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Forbidden City breaks down another barrier

(Xinhua)

11:50, May 01, 2012

The Palace of Benevolent Peace (Cining Gong) used to be the living area for Empress Dowager Cixi. After 1687, when Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang died, it was used for ceremonies until the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). (Source: China Daily)

BEIJING, Apr. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- The world will soon get to see more of the intriguing Forbidden City, home to generations of Chinese emperors spanning five centuries - at no extra cost.

With the opening of the secluded residence of empresses and imperial concubines, which lies to the west of Longzong Gate, visitors will enter into some of the crucial quarters of the Inner Court - once prohibited and punishable by death.

The decision to open up parts of the Inner Court to tourists is part of efforts by the world's largest palace complex to cater to the interests of the increasing number of visitors, curator Shan Jixiang said on Thursday.

The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. It has been known as the Palace Museum since 1925, soon after Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), was evicted from the Inner Court.

"We received 14 million guests last year and expect to have 1 million more than that figure this year," Shan, former chief of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

"We plan to expand the visiting zones from nearly half to two-thirds (of the Forbidden City) in the near future."

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