freecrashbandicootgames|Across China: Centuries-old bridge restored to historic grandeur

This photo taken on June 13freecrashbandicootgames, 2024 shows the Yongtong Bridge on the Beijing section of the Grand Canalfreecrashbandicootgames, in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Luo Xin)

BEIJING, June 14 (Xinhua) -- An iconic bridge on the Beijing section of the Grand Canal has reopened after a lengthy restoration work, becoming a popular photo spot for local residents.

On June 6, a ceremony was held at the nearly 600-year-old Yongtong Bridge in the eastern part of Beijing to mark the completion of its renovation and the 10th anniversary of the Grand Canal successfully being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With a history of more than 2,500 years, the Grand Canal, connecting Beijing and Hangzhou in east China's Zhejiang Province, served as a significant transportation artery in ancient China.

freecrashbandicootgames|Across China: Centuries-old bridge restored to historic grandeur

"Yongtong Bridge looked very shabby for a while, and the surrounding environment wasn't in good condition. I never thought it could be restored to its former glory," said a 74-year-old resident surnamed Li, after visiting the bridge.

Constructed in 1446, the stone bridge stands as an important cultural relic along the Beijing section of the Grand Canal. It stretches approximately 66 meters in length and 16 meters in width.

To facilitate traffic, the bridge was paved with asphalt decades ago. "Due to the heavy load on the bridge, structural issues like stone dislocation and cracks had emerged, posing a serious threat to safety," said Shen Zihao, head of the restoration project.

Over the years, China has dedicated considerable efforts to the protection of cultural relics, leading to significant advancements in approach. Yongtong Bridge stands as a beneficiary of these transformative changes.

To minimize the impact of traffic on the bridge, a modern concrete bridge was constructed just 152 meters away as an alternative route in 2018. This has allowed the historic bridge to be closed to motor vehicles.

After thorough research by experts and the approval of authorities, the restoration work of the bridge started in 2021.

The workers encountered their first challenge after removing the thick asphalt on the bridge, as many of the stone slates used for building the bridge were either missing or dislocated.

In their efforts to restore the bridge to its original state, Shen and his colleagues left no stone unturned. They extensively referred to ancient books, sought expert guidance, meticulously compared findings, and procured stones of identical material to fill the gaps.

"We have not only repaired Yongtong Bridge but also enhanced the surrounding environment," said Shen, adding that a stele has been erected to the south of the bridge chronicling its history.

A digital record, accessible by scanning QR codes on the bridge, has been generated to document the restoration process, providing insight into the encountered issues, repair methodologies and showcasing before and after photo comparisons, Shen explained.

"The historical context of the bridge remains intact and its landscape is preserved. We should make it beautiful and vibrant," said Shan Jixiang, director of the expert commission of the China Cultural Relics Academy.

A tourist takes photos of the Yongtong Bridge on the Beijing section of the Grand Canal, in Beijing, capital of China, June 13, 2024. (Xinhua/Luo Xin)

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