Tiananmen Square is located in the heart of Beijing, directly opposite the Forbidden City. It is called "the heart of China" or "the heart of Beijing." This is one of the main tourist places of the capital of China, but to Russians it is more known for the events of 1989. In this article, we will talk about the Tiananmen Square precisely as a landmark.
The very word Tiananmen is translated from Chinese as "Gate of heavenly tranquility." The square is named after the first gates of the Forbidden City, which are located here. This is one of the symbols of China - a large red building in traditional Chinese style with a portrait of Mao Zedong on the facade. From the gate we will begin our story.
"Gate of heavenly tranquility" has been standing here since the construction of the Forbidden City in 1420. Since then, they have completely burnt twice and rebuilt. The latest version was built by the emperors of the Qing dynasty in 1651. It was then that they received their current name, and before that they were called "Gate of power received from Heaven."
Now these gates are 32 meters high, 37 meters in depth and 66 meters in height. Looking at them, you will not even think that they are tall with a 10-storey house.
Many tourists ask about the inscriptions on the right and left of the portrait of Mao Zedong? We answer. The left poster reads: "Long life to the People's Republic of China." On the right poster it says: "A long life to the unity of the peoples of the whole world."
The most interesting is rubbing. It is the contrast of the building in the ancient style and the portrait of the founder of modern China that made this gate recognizable all over the world. An interesting fact is that originally there were two portraits - Mao Zedong and General Zhu De. General Zhu De was the hero of the war with Japan. Two portraits were posted on July 7, 1949, but on October 1 of the same year the portrait of Zhu De was taken off. Since then, each year on October 1, a portrait of Mao Zedong is changed to a new one.
And here's another amazing interesting fact! Can you imagine the portrait of Joseph Stalin on this place? And he hung here one day on March 9, 1953. So in the PRC they expressed their sorrow over Stalin's death.
Usually tourists make a photo, when a lion, a portrait of Mao and the tourist himself get into the frame. An example of such a photo is below, but we did it without the presence of anyone. Just imagine yourself in the foreground in front of the fence.
In front of the gate is a pair of lions and columns. In this article we will not dwell on them, as they already talked about them in detail in the article " How to get to the Forbidden City and what to look around ".
Tiananmen Square itself is on the other side of the street. You can use the underground passage, which is also the entrance to Tian'anmen West Metro Station (Tiananmen West).
Once you exit the underground passage, you will immediately notice a huge video wall (in the photo below). This screen shows the cutting of patriotic videos. The review will not take you much time, the length of the film is about 3 minutes.
Tiananmen Square is 500 meters wide and 800 meters long, and is considered the largest urban area in the world. Military parades are held here, but this phenomenon is rare. The last time the troops marched in Tiananmen Square on September 3, 2015 in honor of the 70th anniversary of the victory over Japan in the Second World War. The previous military parade was held here on October 1, 2009 in honor of the 60th anniversary of the proclamation of the PRC.
Every morning on the main square of China, a solemn ceremony of raising the flag of the country is held. With the flag raised, the day begins in the People's Republic of China. This ceremony can be visited by any tourist, and we talked about this in detail in the article " The ceremony of raising the flag of China ." In the evening there is a solemn ceremony of descent of the flag.
Just behind the video screens is the main monument in Tiananmen Square - the Monument to the People's Heroes.
The monument has a height of 38 meters and looks quite impressive (in the photo on the left). Many believe that it is installed in the memory of the heroes of the communist revolution, but this is not entirely true.
The obelisk is dedicated to all who fought for the freedom of modern China, from "opium wars" to the formation of the new Republic of China in 1949. The proclamation of the PRC took place here - in Tiananmen Square.
The central inscription on the column is written in the handwriting of Mao Zedong and says "Eternal memory to the people's heroes."
At the bottom you can see bas-reliefs depicting eight events in the struggle of the Chinese people for freedom, from the burning of opium in 1840 to the victory of the People's Liberation Army of China under the leadership of Mao Zedong over the troops of Chiang Kai-shek.
Immediately behind the monument is a mausoleum with the body of Mao Zedong. The entrance is free, but it only works from 8-00 to 12-00 on all days except Monday.
Inside the mausoleum is a small museum with personal belongings of the leader of the Chinese revolution and Mao Zedong's body itself in a separate room. The mausoleum is arranged in the same way as Lenin's mausoleum in Moscow. The body is most of the time in the lower room, where low temperature is maintained. And only in the morning it is raised for everyone to see.
The leader's body is under a glass lid and covered with the red flag of the PRC. Details can be found in our article " The Mausoleum of Mao Zedong ".
Before the mausoleum you can see two sculptural compositions. The first is called "Great Contribution" (pictured right). It shows the happy life of the Chinese people and all the achievements of the people of China under the leadership of the Communist Party.
This style is called "socialist realism." In Russia, the most famous work of art in this style is the statue of "Worker and Collective Farm Woman" in Moscow at VDNH.
Both sculptural compositions harmoniously fit into the architectural ensemble of the square. Chinese social realism did not suffer from the mania of gigantism that was characteristic of socialist realism in the USSR. In the Soviet Union, they were more likely to seek a larger size to the detriment of harmony.
The second composition embodies the armed struggle of the Chinese people for a bright future and the desire to continue the proletarian revolution.
The first one is to the right of the main entrance to the mausoleum, the second to the left of it.
Behind the building of the mausoleum, the square ends with the gates of Tsianmen, which translates as "outer gates". This impressive structure is 42 meters high. Once they were part of a common wall along the perimeter of the city, but now only this gate remained from this defensive structure. Inside there is a museum of old Beijing and an exhibition of fine arts.
It is worth paying attention to the two buildings on the left and right of the mausoleum. The first of them is on the right and is called the "Great Hall of the People", although it is often called the "House of People's Assemblies". Every year, there are meetings of the People's Congress and congresses of the Communist Party of China.
The rest of the time it is open to tourists. You can visit the main meeting room, which seats 10,000 delegates. Another 34 rooms in the building are dedicated to the provinces of China. Interestingly, the hall of Taiwan is also there. ( note: Taiwan is completely independent of the PRC state)
In detail, you can almost say in our article "The House of the People's Assembly of China ."
The second building is to the left of the mausoleum - this is the National Museum (pictured below). This is one of the largest museums in China, where a large number of historical exhibits are collected. By the size of the collection, it is second only to the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City. Details can be found in our article "The National Museum of China ."
Important advice - do not come here on Monday. The mausoleum of Mao Zedong, the National Museum and the Hall of the People's Congresses are closed on Monday.
If you want to see the square itself and the mausoleum, then you will have two hours to inspect, and you can keep within one hour. In case you want to see the Hall of the People's Assemblies from the inside and visit the National Museum, then it's worthwhile to visit the Tiananmen all day.
Tiananmen Square is a place of concentration of Beijing's sights , and it is visited by all tourists, almost without exception. The most popular route is visiting Tiananmen Square in the morning and visiting the Forbidden City after lunch.
If you are here in the evening, then do not rush to get on the Beijing subway or taxi and go to the hotel. A kilometer from here to the east is the famous Wangfujing food market , where you can try almost any Chinese food. A half kilometers to the west is the shopping area of Sidan with dozens of shopping centers.
We wish you pleasant walks in Beijing, and read our interesting and useful articles about China ( links below ).