Forbidden City in Beijing Opens at Night
For the first time in almost a century Chinese authorities have decided to open Beijing's Forbidden City for two special night tours. Normally, this part of the city closes at 5 p.m. every day.
The extraordinary event took place during the Lantern Festival which marks the end of China's New Year holiday.
3,000 visitors were able to enter the World Heritage Site on each evening and witness lantern shows, music performances and laser projections of ancient Chinese art. Visitors were also allowed to climb some of the buildings to get a spectacular night view of Beijing. Tickets for the rare opening were sold out in a matter of hours and the official website of the Palace Museum crashed.
The Forbidden City was home to Chinese emperors between the 15th and and beginning of the 20th centuries. It was converted to a museum in 1925.
About 80,000 visitors from all over the world visit the area every day. However, it has been closed to the public during evening hours due to a legend claiming that the Forbidden City is haunted by ghosts. Only VIPs and heads of state have been allowed to visit this part of Beijing after sunset.
Currently, about 80 % of the palace is open to visitors. Museum authorities are set to open even more of Beijing's famous landmark, including a new garden complex, in the near future. A special ceremony is scheduled to take place in 2020 when the palace will celebrate its 600th anniversary.
Shenwumen Gate in Beijing's Forbidden City - Image: kallgan
- ancient = old
- anniversary = here: year in which something important happened in the past
- authorities = official organisation that is in control of places and can make decisions
- celebrate = an important event at which you do something enjoyable
- century = a hundred years
- ceremony = important formal event
- claim = to say that something is true even thought it has not been proven
- convert = change into
- currently = now; at the moment
- due to = because of ...
- emperor = man who is ruler of a big empire or group of countries
- enter = go into
- extraordinary = very special and unusual
- head of state = main representative of a country , like a king, queen or president
- however = but
- in a matter of = here: in a few
- landmark = place that is easy to recognize ; very important sight
- mark = celebrate an important event
- near future = soon
- official = here: run by the city council
- public = normal people
- rare = if something doesn't happen very often
- scheduled = planned
- spectacular = very impressive ; great
- witness = see with your own eyes
- World Heritage Site = special place which has an important cultural value ; these sites are chosen by the United Nations
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