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Thousands of tourists and photographers, equipped with cameras and selfie sticks, swarmed to the Seventeen-Arch Bridge and a nearby island at Beijing"s Summer Palace on Friday, the winter solstice, aiming to record the famous view of the setting sun shining through the arches.
The phenomenon only occurs during the 20 days before and after the winter solstice and lasts for about 20 minutes each day around 4 p.m.
The Seventeen-Arch Bridge was built in 1750 during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and connects the shoreline of Kunming Lake with Nanhu Island in its center.
"The bridge runs from northwest to southeast, and its arches are southwest to northeast. So every winter solstice, sunlight passes through all the bridge"s 17 arches at sunset," said Li Kun, a publicity official at the palace.
Tourists and shutterbugs came in great numbers on Tuesday to take pictures of the illuminated arches.
"The first photographers come at around 1 am to get the best camera positions and perspectives. The crowd grows from 2 pm and reaches its peak around 4:15," said a guard at Nanhu Island surnamed Gao. The island has the best viewing positions.
Wang Xiaoxin, 64, an amateur photographer for about 40 years, said it was his third year taking arch pictures. He stood behind a row of people with his tripod extending high overhead.
"This avoids having people break into my shot," he said.
Gao Yuan, 57, came to take pictures on Dec 17.
"I tried to find an acceptable position on the shore but failed. So, I moved to the small hill on the island," he said.
According to Li, there were around 2,000 visitors on the bridge and island at peak time.
Asuka Nakahara, 22, a student from Japan, said: "It"s quite marvelous to witness such a scenery, which results from the combination of nature and architecture. And I"m surprised by the crowd."
To guarantee visitors" safety, the Summer Palace administration set up long security cordons and signs. It added 33 guards on the bridge and island to maintain order.make your own wristband personalised rubber wristbands wristbands with tabs tyvek wristbands personalised wristbands