Where: In the very centre of Beijing
What: The cultural, political and historical centre of both Beijing and China
History: The site of some of China’s most important and defining moments in history
Go there for: A dramatic sense of history and an opportunity to see the dead body of China’s most famous leader
Where It’s At
It’s been called the ‘Eye of China’ and the focus of the nation: Tiananmen Square is one of the largest public squares in the world is one of Beijing’s most visited attractions.
Tiananmen Square covers a total area of 120 acres and was modelled after Red Square in Moscow. For over one hundred years, the square was used as the venue for many prominent ceremonies and demonstrations in China.
What’s the History There?
This ground has witnessed Chairman Mao‘s famous proclamation on the founding of the People’s Republic from Tiananmen Gate on 1 October 1949, the rallies launching the Cultural Revolution in 1966 and the day when millions of mourners packed the square to morn the deaths of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in 1976.
Tiananmen Square captured the world’s attention in June 1989, when a massive student demonstration for democratic reform was put to a brutal stop by the Chinese government. On 3 and 4 June army troops and tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square to put a stop to the mounting protests by students, intellectuals, civil servants and workers. Until today, it is not known the exact number of those who were killed and conflicting reports cite numbers from the hundreds to the thousands. The Tiananmen Square uprising remains one of the most memorable but yet least understood tragedies of our time.
Visiting Tiananmen Today
Tiananmen Square is named after its magnificent Gate of Heavenly Peace, which was the first gate of the Imperial City. Surrounding the square are attractions such as the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, the Museum of Chinese History and the Mao Zedong Mausoleum.
The main attraction for most Chinese visitors to the Mao Zedong Mausoleum is to view the embalmed Chairman Mao. In its first 20 years, the mausoleum saw 110 million visitors and it remains as one of the most popular tourist destinations in China. Travellers should also note that there are strict rules that disallow bags and cameras inside the mausoleum.
On each fifth anniversary, the government hosts huge military parades in the square to highlight their military might. The largest parade in the country’s history was held on 1 October 1999 when China celebrated 50 years of communist rule.
Visitors to the square at sunrise are treated to a grand ceremony when the national flag is raised daily. A similar ceremony is repeated at sunset when the flag is lowered.
Tiananmen Square Tour
Tour the square and visit the various attractions around it.
CNN’s special feature on the June 1989 Tian’anmen Square tragedy with interesting links and video footage.
By Melvyn Goh
Want more information on the fascinating city of Beijing? Watch the trailer below for GlobeTrekker’s Beijing City Guide – available to stream online or buy on DVD!
main image: Image courtesy of ChinaOffSeason, Flickr creative commons