Located on Beijing Chang’an Avenue, the Cultural Palace for Ethnic Communities is well-known both at home and abroad and is one of the ten big buildings constructed to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. It has many honorable tittles because of its unique national characteristics. In 1994, it was chosen by Beijing residents as the first place of “fifty my most favorable national-style of structures” and was selected in world history of structures published by U.K. as the first palace in New China.
On the northern side of Fuxingmen Street directly to the east of the Ethnic Community (Minzu) Hotel stands the Cultural Palace of Ethnic Communities. The palace is designed after the Chinese character for mountain, with a central section towering above two wings. The pagoda-like tower of 13 stories is exactly the same height as the famous White Dagoda in Beihai Park. The symmetrical, three-story east and west wings extend to the south along the sides of the large square in front of the main gate.
Pine trees encircle the square and a decorative fountain stands in its center. Three colors predominate in the building itself: the earthen-gold of the granite foundation, the white of the unglazed wall-tiles, and the peacock blue of the roof tiles on the pagoda-like tower.
The palace has a total floor space of 30,700 square meters and consists of six sections-a museum, a library, an auditorium, a dance hall, a restaurant and a guesthouse. The glazed roof tiles and double eaves of the tower, the two decorative pagodas on the wings, and the pair of large palace lanterns hanging before the main gate give the structure a pronounced Chinese flavor.
One enters it by climbing a granite staircase to the white marble portico, with its two large bronze doors decorated with the Chinese words tuanjie (solidarity) and jinbu (progress). Inside is the four-story central hall with its floor and walls of green and white marble. From the octagonal ceiling hangs a large bronze chandelier, and on the four walls are relief carvings in white marble, each depicting the peoples of various national minorities of China. The relief carving on the southwest wall is a representation of springtime, showing the Tibetan, Miao, Yi and Puyi ethnic communities. The southeastern relief depicts coconut trees on the seashore as well as the people of Zhuang, Li and Yao ethnic groups celebrating a rice harvest. The relief on the northwestern side of the hall shows a flock of sheep, and members of the Hui and Uygur ethnic groups harvesting wheat, cotton and grapes. The northeastern relief demonstrates a group of people gathered around a number of industrial products tied with colorful ribbons. The museum is in the north section of the building and consists of five main exhibition halls and 35 small exhibition rooms on the first and second floors and other sections of the tower. The library is located in the basement below the exhibition hall to the north of the central hall. It can accommodate 600,000 volumes and serves as a source center for research related to Chinese 55 ethnic groups. The library has two large reading rooms for newspapers and magazines and 10 smaller rooms for use by researchers.
The east wing of the cultural palace contains the well-equipped 1,500 seat auditorium, each seat provided with earphones capable of transmitting eight separated channels. There are also facilities for radio and television broadcasting and sound recording studio.
The west wing of the palace contains some amusement rooms, an indoor dance hall, a restaurant and a rooftop dance floor. The range of facilities includes: billiards, table tennis, chess and bowing, a small gymnasium, a small theater, a Chinese music room, a sitting room and a shop.
On the second floor, the dance hall and coffee shop are separated by a large elaborate screen decorated with a scene entitled “One Hundred Birds Admiring the Phoenix.” The third floor contains a Muslim restaurant serving the typical dishes of the Hui and uygur ethnic communities. Above the restaurant is the rooftop dance floor, which is enclosed by a white marble balustrade.
The large staircase in the main hall leads up to residence facilities used by the peoples of national minorities of China. There are 40 rooms altogether complete with private meeting rooms, dining rooms and kitchens.
On the 13th floor of the tower is an observation room completely enclosed in glass. From here or from the surrounding balcony one may obtain an unobstructed bird’s-eye view of the city.