Forbidden City Opens Accessible Tourist Paths20.05.2008
Tourists with a disability from all over the world will now have better access to Beijing's famous Forbidden City and Great Wall following extensive renovations. New facilities were opened on 18 May, to mark the National Help-the-Disabled Day in China.
"This is an excellent example of how Beijing and China intends to advance accessibility for all people in the years to come," said Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) who visited the sights and checked the accessibility himself. "When you consider that the Great Wall was built to be intentionally inaccessible, it's amazing," he added.
The Forbidden City has numerous stone steps and thresholds, which are distinguishing features of traditional Chinese architecture, but had restricted access for persons with a disability. The famous landmark now has three barrier-free tourist routes covering the main scenic spots. About 1,000 m long, the main route runs from Wumen (Meridian Gate) in the south to Shenwumen (Gate of Spiritual Valor) in the north.
With the help of the newly installed elevators, people using a wheelchair can ascend Wumen Tower avoiding nearly 100 steps. At Taihedian, Zhonghedian and Baohedian, wheelchair stair lifts are available to help people with a disability to go on top.
"The barrier-free facilities and the ancient architecture in the Forbidden City complement each other, which embodies the concept of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games - Transcendence, Equality and Integration," said Li Ji, Vice-Director of the Forbidden City.