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Imperial Prayer Hall in Beijing Re-opens


The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, at the Temple of Heaven, a major landmark in downtown Beijing, re-opened to visitors on Saturday after being closed for renovations for nearly a year. The repair work started last May and was completed with an investment of 47 million yuan (US$5.8 million), according to the Temple of Heaven administration.

The work has restored the Prayer Hall's imperial appearance to that of the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1875-1908) when the ancient structure underwent a major re-construction, said manager Yang Xiaodong. This is the third time the hall has been repaired since the reconstruction. The last occasion was in 1971. The lofty, round structure with triple eaves and a cone-shaped, deep blue tiled roof, crowned with a gilded knob is 38 meters high and 30 meters in diameter. The structure rests on 28 massive wooden pillars without any use of modern materials such as steel, cement or even cross beams. It’s a legendary landmark in the history of Chinese architecture. The Prayer Hall is the main building of the Temple of Heaven, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, which covers an area of 273 hectares.
Built in 1420 during the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) the temple remained a holy place where emperors of the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties worshipped and prayed for good harvests.

(Source:Xinhua News , 2006-04-30)