Tiananmen Square has witnessed many events in the course of Chinese history and is now featured in almost every representative image of Beijing. The Square has been the place of change and protest and remains a symbol of a modern China.
A brief history
Located in the centre of the city, Tiananmen Square is the heart of Beijing. The name is derived from the name of one of the gates of the Imperial Palace and is literally translated as ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’. The gate was first constructed in 1415, but was heavily damaged by the Qing dynasty forces. Previously, the Square had another gate in its centre, but it was demolished in 1954 in favour of enlarging the space. The place that was formerly occupied by the gate is now used as the site of Mao’s Mausoleum, following the Chairman’s death in 1976. Prior to the death of the founder of the new China, the Square witnessed the May Fourth Movement protests in 1919 and was the place of proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The Square was enlarged over time to be able to accommodate large gatherings. Currently, the Square can bring together up to 600,000 people, and every morning there is a flag-raising ceremony that brings patriotic and curious crowds to the Square before sunrise. On special occasions it is used for military displays and parades.
Tiananmen Square is without doubt a must-see destination. The Square represents the modern history of the People’s Republic of China and is also the perfect starting point to discovering Beijing. The Square is surrounded by buildings and crucial landmarks that both represent the ancient history of the country and the leap it took into the modern-day present.
In the area
The Square is surrounded by various places of interest. From the northern side of the city stretches out the Forbidden City. The National Museum of China, housing artefacts and art from ancient times to the modern age is located on the eastern side. If you walk towards the south, you will reach Qianmen, an old business street with a wide range of restaurants and shops. The western side is the location of the Great Hall of the People, which serves as the legislative and ceremonial body of the People’s Republic of China.
When you go
Take the subway line 1 to Tiananmen East station and walk out of exit A. Be prepared for a security check as you walk onto Tiananmen Square. There is a compulsory security check at the entrance and sometimes an ID check for both locals and foreigners.
Entrance Fee: free