The Imperial Ancestral Temple also known as the Cultural Palace of Working People.It is located to the east of Tian’anmen. This place used to be the Ancestral Temple in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and served as a repository for the memorial tablets of the emperors’ ancestors. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, on occasions such as an emperor’s ascending the throne, a triumphant return from battle or the presentation of prisoners of war, the emperor would first come here to offer sacrifices to his ancestors. At other times, the huge temple stood empty except for the few bailiffs who guarded the doors and a great flock of grey cranes. The temple remained in this state for the better part of more than five hundred years until International Labour Day in 1951, when it became the Cultural Palace of Working People in Beijing. Now it has become a place where working people in Beijing come to enjoy cultural performances.
The Chinese Harmonious Chimes (Zhonghua He Zhong) were installed at the Cultural Palace of Working People on December 27, 1999. The chimes built and installed in three arrays, 3.8 meters high, 21 meters wide and weighing 17 tons, are the world’s largest and feature 108 chimes of various sizes. The upper 34 Niu bells represent the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and munici-155 palities on the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan; the middle array is made up of 56 Yong bells standing for the 56 nationalities; the lower layer are 18 Bo bells, with the middle 16 pieces for the 16 historical periods of China and the two on each side for peace and development. They were also used during the gala celebrating the year 2000.
The renovation project on the temple in 2001 and was finished on December 29, 2004. involving repairs on the Jade Belt Bridge and a complex where sacrifices were prepared for the worship of ancestors in ancient times. The Jade Belt is made up by seven single-curvature are bridges standing side by side. The bridge is made of white marble. Exposed to the elements for hundreds of years, the marble was severely eroded before repairs. Relics protection experts used organic silicon to paste on the marbles. The coating can protect the marble from erosion by rains and pollutants for five to 10 years. Built in 1420, the Imperial Ancestral Temple is laid out parallel to north-south axis that runs through the Forbidden City. The compound is the only existing imperial ancestral temple in China. The revamp cost 2 million yuan(US$240,000), only covered a small part of the temple, and renovation will continue on the rest of the buildings.
In 2005 the temple was armed with modern equipment to guard against fire, floods and lightning. The project has rooted out 21 safety hazards at the ancient wooden compound, such as outdated fire alarms and aging electrical wiring The 3-million-yuan(US$370,000) project armed the temple——the only existing imperial ancestral temple in china——with advanced fire alarm system, fire hydrants and hoses, and lightning conductors. Nine other ancient buildings in the city received similar safety renovations in 2005–including the Jietai (Ordination Terrace) Temple, the Bell and Drum towers, and the Altar of the God of agriculture——all of which are jewels in Beijing’s crown of 3, 500 heritage sites. In the next five years, the local government will plunge at least 15 million yuan (US$2 million) annually into equipping other heritage sites with similar protection in the Chinese capital.