china edition


Tian'anmen Square

With a total area of 440,000 square m, Tian'anmen Square is the largest square in the center of Beijing. For over a hundred years, many ceremonies and demonstrations have been held here. It has great cultural significance as a symbol because it was the site of several key events in Chinese history. Outside of China, the square is best known for the Tian'anmen Square Protests of 1989.

The grandeur of Tiananmen Gate (Heavenly Peace Gate) is a national symbol, with the Great Hall of the People on the western side and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the Museum of Chinese History to its east and west. The Monument to the People's Heroes - the 36 m obelisk, made of Qingdao granite, dominates the center of the square. The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Qianmen gate, sit in the south.

Tiananmen Square

Tian'anmen Gate

Tian'anmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) was built in the 15th Century and restored in the 17th Century. From imperial days, the yellow glaze-tiled double-eaves tower functioned as a rostrum for proclamations to the assembled masses. October 1, 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the new China. The tower has 5 doors and in front of it are 7 bridges spanning a stream. Only the emperor could use the central door and bridge. On the top of the central door is a gigantic portrait of Chairman Mao with slogans on each side stating "Long Live the People's Republic of China" and "Long Live the Unity of the Peoples of the World". Walking through the gate, you can enter the imperial city - Forbidden City with free charge while a panoramic view from the tower costs 15RMB for Foreigners.


Right beside a pair of marble lions in front of the Tian'anmen Gate stand obelisk of marble engraved with entwisting dragons and clouds - an ornamental architecture called Huabiao. Its history can be traced back to the Yao and Shun, legendary kings in remote antiquity. To solicit public criticism, it is said that wooden crosses were erected at marketplaces for people to write down complaints. Later during the Han wooden posts were replaced by stone pillars, which gradually became the sumptuous columns to palace gates. Huabiao can be usually found in imperial gardens and mausoleums.

On the top is a plate-shape flat called Chenglupan (dew-collecting) on which squats an animal called kong (a legendary animal for watch-keeping) facing to the south. They were called "Wangjungui" or "looking forward to the emperor's return", who watched over the emperor's excursions and called him back. The couple inside the gate facing north, called Wangjunchu or "looking forward to the emperor's progress", were considered to supervise the emperor's behavior in the court when he neglect court affairs.

Great Hall of the People

This is the venue of the legislature, the National People's Congress. Summit meetings are often held in the 10,000-seat auditorium with the familiar red star embedded in a galaxy of lights in the ceiling. Also you can visit the 5,000 seat banquet room where US president Richard Nixon dined in 1972.

Monument to the People's Heroes

Built in 1958 on the southern side of Tian'anmen Square, this 36-m obelisk bears brass-relief carvings of key revolutionary events such as the Chinese destroying opium in the 19th century.

Mao Zedong Memorial Hall

Behind the Monument to the People's Heroes is the hall where the embalmed body of Chairman Mao is kept and many Chinese show deep respect when confronted with the physical presence of Mao.

Tiananmen Square has been the site of a number of political events such as the proclamation of the People's Republic of China by Mao Zedong in October 1, 1949 and for mass rallies during the Cultural Revolution. It has also been the site of a number of protest movements, most notably the May Fourth Movement of 1919 for science and democracy, protests in 1976 after the death of Zhou Enlai, and the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

The protests of 1989 resulted in the killing of Chinese protestors in the streets to the west of the square and adjacent areas. Some sources (Graham Earnshaw and Columbia Journal Review) claim that none died on the square itself. However, Chinese expatriates who left the country after the killings said that the numbers of deaths ended up being in the thousands. This was a combination of the hundreds killed on the spot and the "miniature" purge that followed.