Main space in a medieval manor house, monastery, or college, in which meals were eaten. In large manor houses it also served other purposes: Justice was administered there, entertainment enjoyed, and often at night its stone floor was strewn with rushes so that servants could sleep there.
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The Great Hall of the People was built in September 1959. It was one of the "Ten Great Constructions" completed for the 10th Anniversary of the People's Republic. It was built in 10 months by volunteers. One of the volunteers was Li Ruihuan, who later became the chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
The Great Hall of the People consists of three sections. The central section principally includes the Great Auditorium, the Main Auditorium, the Congress Hall(Standing Committee of SCPCC meets in conference), the Central Hall, the Golden Hall and other main halls. The northern section consists of the State Banquet Hall, the Salute State Guest Hall, the North Hall, the East Hall, the West Hall and other magnificent halls. The southern part is the office building of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of China. Each province, special administrative region, autonomous region of China has own its hall in the Great Hall, such as Beijing Hall, Hong Kong Hall and Taiwan Hall. Each hall has the unique characteristics of the province and is furnished according to the local style.
The Great Auditorium, with volume of 90,000 cubic meters, seats 3,693 in the lower auditorium, 3,515 in the balcony, 2,518 in the gallery and 300 to 500 on the dais. Government leaders make their speeches; and the representatives do much of their business. It can simultaneously seat 10,000 representatives. The ceiling is decorated with a galaxy of lights, with a large red star is at the centre of the ceiling, and a pattern of a water waves nearby represents the people. Its facilities equipped with audio-visual and other systems adaptable to a variety of meeting types and sizes. A simultaneous interpretation system is also provided with a language booth. The State Banquet Hall with an area of 7,000 square meters can entertain 7,000 guests, and up to 5,000 people can dine at one time (as was done on the occasion of Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972). Smaller gatherings can be held in the Main Auditorium, with larger groups having the use of one or more of the conference halls, such as Golden Hall and North Hall, and the smallest assemblies accommodated in one or more of the over 30 conference halls that are named after provinces and regions in China.
The Great Hall of the People is the political hub of Beijing and home of the National People's Congress. Every year, in March, the Great Hall of the People plays host to the liang hui (literally means "two meetings") event, where both the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (SCPCC) and the National People's Congress (NPS) meet in sessions lasting for two to three weeks at the Great Auditorium. The Communist Party of China (CPC) also holds its National Congress every five years in the Great Hall of the People. This enormous building is open to the public when national conference is not in session, and visitors are shown in a selection of routes. In recent years, some non-political conventions and concerts have also been held in the Great Hall.