Tian’anmen Rostrum closed to public during renovation

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) – The iconic Tian’anmen Rostrum in downtown Beijing will undergo a major renovation starting on Friday, according to the administration committee of the Tian’anmen area.

The gate will be closed to public visitors to ensure security until April, a committee notice said, and the entire renovation will be completed by the end of May.

The Tian’anmen Rostrum was where Chairman Mao Zedong declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct 1, 1949, making it a symbol of New China. In 1988, visitors were first allowed to step onto the rostrum.

The renovation plan was approved by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage. A comprehensive survey of the rostrum was done in 2013-14, and it uncovered some potential safety hazards, though in general, it was found to be solid.

Water seepage has led to bulges in the walls and cracks in some frescoes, the survey showed. Some of the facility’s equipment had become outdated.

Such routine maintenance is for continuous protection of the Tian’anmen Rostrum, according to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

In the renovation plan, measures will be taken to better waterproof facilities of the terrace on the top of the rostrum and replace aged pipes and other equipment.

Maintenance and preservation of cultural relics within the rostrum are to be included as well, such as touching up some frescoes as necessary. Instructions call for “minimum intervention” or doing only what is necessary to keep the structure in good condition.

Tian’anmen-the “Gate of Heavenly Peace”-was built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as the front gate of the imperial city. It was originally given the name Chengtianmen, meaning “Gate of Accepting the Heavenly Mandate”, which was changed to the current name in 1651 in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

As a result of lightning strikes and damage from war, it went through two major renovations during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was rebuilt in 1970 to make it more earthquake resistant.

Only small repairs and partial maintenance have been done since then, officials said.

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