Holiday tickets go fast as Forbidden City turns 600
Those hoping to visit the Palace Museum in Beijing during the National Day holiday may find it difficult to get in this year.
Tickets, available 10 days in advance online, were sold out as of Wednesday until Oct 3, including those for weekdays before the holiday begins on Oct 1, according to the museum's official website.
Still, that has not dampened the public's enthusiasm for the museum, also known as the Forbidden City, an architectural gem spreading across 720,000 square meters that contributes a unique element to the city's skyline.
The former imperial compound, where 24 emperors lived, is turning 600 this year.
In this year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the milestone anniversary of the museum is passing without fireworks, ornate galas or huge ceremonies.
But on the social media platform Sina Weibo, the topic of "Meet the Forbidden City on the 600-year anniversary" has attracted netizens to open over 8,600 discussion groups. The total views of these posts have surpassed 50 million.
The pandemic has had an unfortunate side effect of limiting the ability of visitors to experience the museum in person. Since late July, 12,000 visitors a day have been allowed in, compared with 5,000 in May when it was reopened after being closed nearly 100 days. Before the pandemic, the daily cap was set at 80,000.
Still, it takes luck to book a ticket online as people who have been cooped up during the worst of the virus' outbreak yearn to do things outside their homes.
Even though the pandemic has also led to cancellation of some previously scheduled events, three highlighted exhibitions opened this month. The presentations unveil a small number of the 1.86 million cultural relics in the museum's inventory and also present a concise introduction to Chinese aesthetics.
Everlasting Splendor: Six Centuries at the Forbidden City provides an overview of this wonder of ancient construction, showing how it was built and evolved through key historical accounts. Another exhibition on paintings and calligraphic works related to Su Shi, the Song Dynasty (960-1279) cultural icon, provides a picture of the lives, attitudes and philosophies of Chinese literati.
An exhibition that opened on Tuesday put nearly 200 imperial ceramic artifacts on display, including pieces deliberately broken in the workshop because they were considered "imperfect" and therefore not fit to be touched by emperors.
"We hope to integrate people's awareness of the need to cherish and protect our heritage into cultural values of this era," said Wang Xudong, director of the Palace Museum. "Let's pass it down to future generations and keep it dynamic."
Wang said a series of academic symposiums will also be organized at the museum late this year for the anniversary to provide a comprehensive review of the Forbidden City from different facets.