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Six palaces of Forbidden City finally illuminated


05-20-2016 00:48 BJT

One of Beijing’s most visited tourist sites is literally getting some spotlight. The risk of fire and heat damage have long precluded the use of artificial light inside the ancient buildings of Beijing’s Forbidden City. This meant visitors had to put up with gloomy conditions, even during the day time. But thanks to advances in lighting technology, they can now enjoy illuminated interiors.


Beijing's Forbidden City

Six major palaces sit on the central axle of the Forbidden City: the Halls of Union, Supreme Harmony, Central Harmony, and Preserving Harmony; and the Palaces of Heavenly Purity and Earthly Tranquility. Now, for the first time in hundreds of years, these lofty structures have been lit to mark the 40th International Museum Day on May 18.

As most of the ancient structures are wooden and highly vulnerable to fire, electric lighting had been forbidden, forcing visitors peering in through the front door largely to imagine the interiors for themselves.

“When it was really gloomy or smoggy, visitors couldn’t see anything inside, and we got a lot of complaints,” said Wang Yamin, Executive Deputy Director of Palace Museum.

Now the six palaces have been gently illuminated with 120 clusters of lights.

“Protection of the ancient buildings is our top priority. This lighting won’t damage the integrity of the ancient structures nor damage the relics inside,” said Wang.

According to the Palace Museum, this enhancement will allow visitors to see in vivid color original furnishings, paintings, and relics for the first time, while not causing damage to the structures or contents themselves.

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