Guests get a tour of the northern wall of the Forbidden City in Beijing on Wednesday, one day before that wall was opened to the public for the first time. [Jiang Dong/China Daily]
The Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City, opened its northern city wall for the first time to the public on Thursday.
The newly opened section, some 200 meters long, includes two wings accessible from the Shenwumen or Gate of Divine Might, which is a large structure that serves as the northern gate of the Forbidden City. The two northern turrets still remain closed.
Wooden planks have been placed along the top of the wall to protect the ancient bricks and fences have been installed on either side for visitors' safety.
"Visitors can get a panoramic view of the Forbidden City from above," said Ren Wanping, deputy director of the Palace Museum. "They can also get a nice view of Jingshan and Beihai parks."
The Forbidden City was China's imperial palace from 1420 to 1911, and its 3,400-meter-long city wall dates back almost six centuries to its earliest years.
In October 2015, sections of the southern and eastern walls, including the southeastern turret, were opened to the public, the first time the museum allowed such access to its walls.
A comprehensive renovation of the museum's city walls was launched in November.
"That enabled more sections to be gradually opened," Ren said.
The opening of the northern wall section comes one day after the start of a major exhibition, Princess Sissi and Hungary: Aristocratic Life in the 17th-19th Century, on Wednesday.
The exhibition includes 149 cultural relics on loan from the Hungarian National Museum. They reflect the life of Queen Elisabeth of Hungary (1837-1898), who was commonly known as Princess Sissi, and the lifestyle of Hungarian aristocrats.
For the exhibition, the second floor of Shenwumen was also used as an art gallery for the first time, allowing visitors to have a close view of works originally painted on ceilings. The first floor has been opened to the public for temporary exhibitions starting in 2015.
Seven major exhibitions will be open for next week's National Day holiday.
The weeklong holiday is the annual peak time of visitors at the Palace Museum. On Oct 2, 2014, more than 170,000 people poured into the institution, generating safety concerns.
The 80,000 daily limit for visitors, set in 2015, will continue during the upcoming holiday. Online ticket reservations are recommended by the museum at www.dpm.org.cn (click on the middle tab on the top right side for English).
The Palace Museum has worked for years to provide more exhibition space within its ancient architecture to relieve overcrowding in its most popular areas.