I still remember the images of years ago when demonstrators and tanks were in confrontation at the Tiananmen Square (1989)…I did not think then that I would visit the same Square years later, wearing a red shirt in a sunny April morning…
Tiananmen, translated in Chinese, as the Gate of Heavenly Peace is ironically the site of the brutal repression of massive demonstration for democratic reform on June 3-4, 1989. It did serve as a suburban residence for emperors, a place in the countryside yet near the capital.
This is considered the largest public square in the world and is located at the center of Beijing. Tiananmen Square is composed of Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People's Heroes, Great Hall of the People and Mao Zedong Memorial Hall.
When I visited, there was some sort of Chinese Holiday and it was nice seeing the throngs of citizens enjoying this humongous complex. I was also wearing RED to go with walls and the Chinese flag, and also for good luck
On the Northern side of the big Tiananmen Square you can not miss the big red Tiananmen gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace).
Maybe it is one of the most famous views in Beijing.
In front of this gate there is a kind of moat. Like this there are several beautiful bridges across it.
Lucky for us, people who like to make (beautiful) pictures, some are closed, and like this it was possible to make a picture without people on it. This is not so evident when you are visiting Beijing.
On both sides of Mao’s picture there are two big slogans.
Tiananmen Square is part of China's and Beijing's past and present. It has been a silent witness to protests, a massacre and the birth of today's People's Republic of China and in present day, it's the silent witness to China's national day on October 1, kite flying and the occasional jumper =)
The Square as we know it today was renovated in the late 90's, but the site itself was designed and built in the 17th century (although Tiananmen Gate was built in the 15th century).
We visited the Square in late October and there was a big flat screen showing images of China's 60th anniversary.
So when you finally have crossed the big Tiananmen Square (Square of Heavenly peace - What's in the name . . . ), you can see the big Tiananmen Gate at the Northern side of the square.
This is the way to go if you want to visit the Forbidden City.
The road that separates the Square with the gate is very, very busy. Lucky for us tourist you can reach the other side via a walking tunnel.
Tian'an men Square is located at the heart of the city of Beijing. It is a vast open area that is surrounded by Communist style buildings. Tian'an men is where Mao proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. A huge portrait of him remains on the Ming dynasty gate where he made the famed proclomation. Mao's mausoleum, Monument to the People's Heroes, and China's National Museum are best known and can be seen in this square. The national flag is raised at dawn and lowered at dusk on a daily basis. There is some sort of procession that takes place during those times.
Oh yes, the Tiananmen Square was very crowded.
It looks as this big Square is not only a highlight for us, Westerner tourists.
This Tiananmen Square was very full with . . . Chinese tourists. Herds of young tourists passed by all dressed with the same shirts and base-ball caps, in order to recognise them and to keep the group together. And of course accompanied by a guide with the typical guide-flag.
Follow the guide please . . . .
Now I go back to placing my tips in chronological order.
Tiananmen Square was our first stop on the first day of our 4 days of organised tours. So I wasn't here by a matter of choice (apart of course from booking the package tour. lol!). However, I would suggest that you begin your tour of Beijing from this spot for a number of reasons.
Firstly & most obviously are the historical reasons. For me, I'll work backwards from the most recent memorable event (unfortunately for the wrong reasons) & that of course is that unforgettable image of the lone protestor against that tank in 1989. I don't think I will ever have that image erased from my consciousness. But as you've already seen in my Beijing intro I'm so pleased that I've seen it the way I did with the ordinary humanity & hence the reason for the above title. We could go back further to 1919 when it was also a scene of protest for thousands of university students who were apparently protesting against the corruption & other issues of China's Republican Government of that time.
Another important reason for beginning your Beijing siteseeing here is that there isso much else around it & straight across the road. Mao's mausoleum (which I unfortunately did not get to visit - hopefully next time) is an integral part of the square which was once the Imperial Way there's an excellent example of the transition of China from Imperial to Republican to Communist government. And standing there I wondered what type of Government China will have in another 10 - 20 years as Capitalism seems to be taking such a firm grip of the economy.
Where else to ponder these things, but Tiananmen Square. Quite frankly there really isn't a lot to do in the square itself apart from people watch & watch the kite flying while perhaps also buying one as I did for my girls.
On the other side of the Tiananmen Square, the Eastern side you can visit two museums.
The one is the Chinese Revolution museum (Zhongguo Geming Bowuguan), where you can learn more on the revolutionary commitment and the role of the Communist party.
And the other one is the museum of Chinese History (Zhongguo Lishi Bowuguan), were you can learn everything on the Chinese history, like about the Beijing man, the terracotta statues from Xi’an . . .
During cultural revolution Mao Zedong observed in Tiananmen Square parades in which even one million people took part. In 1976 the Chinese paid him here their last homage. But the Leader hasn't left the place for good. We can still feel his presence on the Square as he looks at it from an enormous portrait on Tiananmen Gate. Although the Square was the witness of tragic events in 1989 crowds of people seem not to remember. They come here to fly kites, to take pictures or even have a picnic. The inhabitants of Beijing are used to 'white people' but we were the attraction to some tourists from smaller places so we willingly posed for a couple of photographs. Every day the ceremony of raising and lowereing the flag is attended by such crowds that it is hardly possible to see anything, so I wouldn't recommend it.
It was from here that Mao proclaimed establishing of Chinese People's Republic in 1949. The gate consists of five doors. In the past only the emperor could use the central door, other people would have been beheaded if they did it. Today it's enough to pay for a ticket and you may without any fear use the main door. Remember that the ticket for Tiananmen Gate does not entitle you to enter Forbidden City, but only to climb the upper parts of the gate (which in my opinion is not worth the money).
38 meter Monument to national heroes - square monument with sayings Mao and Jou, decorated by reliefs on themes of the Chinese revolution is established in the center of the square. The Mausoleum of Mao is located directly opposite to ancient palace ensemble of "Forbidden city". From the western side - the House of National assemblies, with east - the Museum of history and the revolution, reminding monumental constructions of a Stalin epoch.
Every morning soldiers of military sentry lift a red banner of the Peoples Republic of China, and every evening with approach of darkness lower a national flag. During an epoch of empire simple citizens were not supposed to the square, and mass demonstrations here began to be spent in days of Mao.
According to history, this very large square was created after the Boxer Rebellion.
Today it is a major landmark of Beijing. It is named after Tiananmen "Heavenly Peace Gate" which is the main south gate of the Imperial Palace of the Forbidden City.
Around the Square are important administrative buildings and museums.
Also located at the Square is the Maosoleum of Chairman Mao. We stood in line, no bags or cameras allowed and saw the preserved body of the man who led the Communist Party to victory in 1949 to rule mainland China.
Any visit to Beijing will not be complete without dropping by the Square which is heavily guarded by the PLA, People's Liberation Army.
Behind the Qianmen (Front Gate), there is another big building; it is the Mao Zedong Mausoleum (Mao Zhuxi Jiniantang).
Inside this building you can see the balsamed body of Mao in a Crystal tomb, wrapped in the Chinese flag.
However some sources tell that it is not the real body which is in there but a wax copy . . .
A must see if visiting Beijing.
At the north end of the Square is Tiananmen Tower. Initially built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty, the Square was the front door of the Forbidden City.
At the south side of the Square is the Mao Zedong mausoleum. Mao's body lies in a crystal coffin inside, against his stated wishes.
In the center of the square is a granite monument, dedicated to the People's Heroes. Built in 1952, it is the largest monument in China's history.
To the west lies the Great Hall of the People. This building, built in 1959, is the site of the China National People's Congress meetings and other political activities.
On the eastern side of the square is the China National Museum. It was built recently, in 2003, and houses both the Chinese history museum and Chinese revolutionary museum.
The scene of many political demonstrations in recent memory, the square is packed full of parked and undercover police to quell any sort of disturbance before it can escallate.
If you are carrying a bag, expect it to be searched upon entrance to the square.
We were lucky enough to be around Tiananmen Square around 5pm when sunset was about to occur so stumbled upon this ceremony. It is quite an occasion with the guards presenting arms, the flag ceremoniously lowered and presented to the guards.
You will have to fight the hordes of Chinese filled with pride who go to watch the ceremony. Try and get there earlier so you get a front row place. We were even luckier when we happened to be in the Forbidden City on the other side of the gate around sunset and so we got to see the soldiers bringing the flag in – a very sombre, moving and striking group –all at a uniform 6’4” tall. Very impressive!
The route taken by the guards is from the area just near the Forbidden City Entrance, through the gate, over the bridge into the square.