Great Hall of The People


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On the western side of the square, this monumental building, completed in 1959, houses the National People’s Congress. It may usually be visited on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, however, visits cannot be made when party or state meetings (which naturally take precedence) are scheduled. The 16th Communist Party Congress was convened here in November 2003 and National People’s Congresses are held every March.
The Great Hall of the People is built round a square, very much in the solid ‘revolutionary-heroic’ mould. It is worth going inside where, even if the decor is not to everyone’s taste, the sheer scale of the rooms is breathtaking. From the huge reception room, the Wanren Dalitang (Ten-thousand People Assembly Hall) leads off to the west, the banquet wing to the north, and the offices of the standing committees of the national congress to the south. The Assembly Hall is over 3,000square meters (3,600 square yards), containing more than 9,700 scars on three tiers, all installed with simultaneous interpretation equipment. Overhead, the vaulted ceiling is illuminated by 500 recessed lights radiating outwards from a gleaming red star. Some 500 guests can sit down to dinner in the banquet room, which is half the size of a football field. Gilded columns and brilliant lighting combine to produce a sumptuous if overwhelming effect. In addition to the formal public rooms, the Great Hall has 32 separate reception rooms, named after each province, provincial-level city and autonomous region of China (including one for Taiwan).

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