Tiananmen SquareA ~ Z

Introducing the Tiananmen Square

Tian'anmen Square is the large plaza of the centre of Beijing, China, named after the Tiananmen (literally, Gate of Heavenly Peace) which sits to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several key events in Chinese history. The Square is 880 meters from south to north and 500 meters from west to east, covering an area of 44 hectares. Used as a massive meeting place since its creation, its flatness is broken only by the 38 metre high Monument to the People's Heroes completed in 1958, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong completed in 1977. The square lies between two ancient, massive gates: the Tiananmen Gate to the north and the Zhengyangmen (Front Gate) to the south. Along the west side of the Square is the Great Hall of the People. Along the east side is the National Museum of China. Chang'an Avenue, which is used for parades, lies between the Tian'anmen and the Square.

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Zhengyangmen is also popular known as Qianmen (literally Front Gate) in Beijing. It stands at the south end of the Tiananmen Square, and was formerly the front gate of the Inner City, a part of the ancient city of Beijing. It was one of the nine city gates in the old city of Beijing and first built in 1420 during the early Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), but rebuilt and renovated several times. In the old days, Zhengyangmen was a passage of entry and exit reserved for the Emperor. Because of its grandeur and unique design, Zhengyangmen was long seen as the one of the symbols of old Beijing. With a height of 43.65 meters, it used to be the highest building in Beijing in the past. The tower in front of Zhengyangmen is the Arrow Tower (Jianlou). Originally, the gate and the tower were connected by two walls on both sides which looked like a jar shape, so it was also called Jar City. The double-gate system was constructed at the main city gates for better protection of the old Beijing city. Actually the Arrow Tower served as the first block in defending the city during the war time. For instance, if the enemy broke through the tower, the defending soldiers could retreat to the inner city with the gate shut from inside while the enemy was still outside the city, so the Arrow Tower was a defensive project in the old days.

Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum

The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, commonly known as the Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum is the final resting place of Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China from 1943 and the chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China from 1945 until his death. He was born on Dec. 26th, 1893 and passed away on Sep. 9th, 1976 at the age of 83. Although Chairman Mao had wished to be cremated, his body was embalmed, and construction of a mausoleum began shortly after his death was finished in six months only. This highly popular attraction is located in the middle of Tiananmen Square. On this site had previously stood the Gate of China, the southern (main) gate of the Imperial City during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum covers an area of 57,000 square meters, 280 meters from south to north and 220 meters from east to west. Outside the Mausoleum, there are four sculptures surrounding it, two at the northern entrance and the other two in front of the southern gate. The sculpture at the northern entrance to the east signifies the great achievements the Chinese people made under the leadership of Chairman Mao and the Chinese Communist Party in the new democratic revolution. The one on the west represents the great victory in the socialist revolution and construction. The sculptures in front of the southern gate are figures of workers, farmers, soldiers, intellectuals, technicians and children who are determined to carry the proletarian revolutionary cause to the very end. There are three main halls in the mausoleum: North Hall: There is a white marble statue of Chairman Mao in the center of the hall, 3.45 meters in sitting posture and placed on a platform. On the wall behind the statue is a 7 by 24 meters fine needlepoint woolen tapestry with beautiful landscapes of China. Central Hall: As the main hall of the mausoleum, this hall is the place for paying homage to the remains of Chairman Mao. In the center of the hall, there is a crystal coffin in which Chairman Mao’s body lies stately with the red flag of the Chinese Communist Party covering over it. There are 17 gilded Chinese characters in official script on the white marble of the front wall, which read: “Eternal glory to the great leader and teacher Chairman Mao Zedong”. South Hall: On the wall of the south hall, there is an inscribed poem in gold inlay by Chairman Mao entitled “Manjianghong”, expressing his full great expectation of the country. There are some other memorial rooms on the second floor where people can view a documentary about the life of those great revolutionaries, such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Zhude, Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping and Chen Yun, etc.

Monument to the People’s Heroes

The Monument to the People’s Heroes locates to the north of Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum. It is a ten-story obelisk that was erected as a national monument of the People’s Republic of China. The Monument was built in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the revolutionary cause of the Chinese people during the 19th and 20th centuries. The monument was designed by architect Liang Sicheng, with some elements designed by his wife, Lin Huiyin. The Monument to the People’s Heroes is 38 meters high with 17,000 pieces of granite and white marble on the base. The foundation of the monument covers an area of 3,000 square meters. The obelisk itself was brought from Qingdao, Shandong Province. It is 14.7 meters high consisting of 413 pieces of granite, with a weight of 60 tons. On the pedestal of the monument there are eight huge bas-relieves carved out of white marble covering the revolutionary episodes, which are depictions of Chinese struggle from the First Opium War in 1840 to the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The relieves can be read in chronological order in a clockwise direction from the east: Burning opium during the Opium War in 1840; The Jintian Village Uprising in Taiping Revolution in 1851; Wuchang Uprising (1911 Revolution); May 4th Movement in 1919; May 30th Movement in 1925; Nanchang Uprising in 1927; War of Resistance Against Japanese Invaders from 1937 to 1945; Successful Crossing of the Yangtze River by the People’s Liberation Army in 1949. On the front of the monument there is an inscription in Chairman Mao’s handwriting, which reads “Eternal glory to the people’s heroes!” On the back of the monument, there is an article which was drafted by Chairman Mao but written by Premier Zhou Enlai: “Eternal glory to the people’s heroes who laid down their lives during the war of liberation and revolution in the past three years! Eternal glory to the people’s heroes who laid down their lives during the war of liberation and revolution in the past thirty years! Eternal glory to the people’s heroes who laid down their lives in the many struggles against domestic and foreign enemies and for national independence and the freedom and well-being of the people from 1840 onward!” There are also two smaller ones flanked on both sides of this relief: “Supplying the Front” and “Greeting the People’s Liberation Army”.

National Flag

To the north of Monument to the People’s Heroes is the National Flagpole which is made of 4 seamless steel tubes, 32.6 meters high and 7 tons in weight. Fluttering on the top of the flagpole is the bright and red National Flag of China with five yellow stars. The big yellow star in the center represents the Communist Party of China, while the four smaller ones symbolize the masses of the Chinese people surrounding the Communist Party. The National Flag was first raised by Chairman Mao on Oct. 1st, 1949, at the moment he proclaimed to the whole world founding of the People’s Republic of China. Starting from May 1st, 1991, there is a flag-raising ceremony every morning at the moment of sunrise, and a flag-lowering ceremony at the moment of sunset. During the ceremony, 36 guards of honor would hold the ceremony accompanied by the National Anthem played on tape. Only on the first day each month, there would be 36 guards of honor with 60 military band guards behind, making up 96 guards which represent the territory of China (9.6 million square km). They would march 138 steps along the south-north central axis to the flagpole with National Anthem played by the military band. There are also 56 poles in the balustrade around the base of the National Flag, which represent the 56 ethnic groups in China.


There is a pair of marble columns sculptured with dragon designs in front of the Tiananmen Gate. They are called “Huabiao” in Chinese. There is also another pair of Huabiao behind the Tiananmen Gate. Each of them is 10 meters high and 20 tons in weight. The marble column is named differently in different places. For example, at the tomb area it is called “Mubiao”; on the main street is called “Lubiao”; while the best carved ones in front of important architectures are called “Huabiao”. The story of Huabiao could be traced back to more than 4,000 years ago around the end of 22nd century BC during the reign of Yao, one of the sage kings in ancient China. At that time, the pillar was made of wood with a crossbar at the top known as “Slander Pillar”. Common people at that time were allowed to leave their comments, advice and criticism or to expose the evildoers. Later, the “Slander Pillar” evolved into a street beacon column to serve as a street sign. Eventually, it became a pure architectural decoration or ornament made of marble. The stone animal squatting on the top of Huabiao is called Hou. It is a legendary animal said to be one of the nine sons of the dragon. Since it has a habit of watching over, it was always made to sit on the top of Huabiao to watch the emperor’s behavior. The two squatting in front of the Tiananmen Gate are also called Wangjungui (expecting the Emperor’s coming back), they are there to remind the emperor do not stay outside too long a time and come back the Forbidden City to work. The two behind the Tiananmen Gate are called Wangjunchu (expecting the Emperor’s going out), they are there to remind the emperor do not stay too long with his concubines and come out the Forbidden City to know the sufferings and complaints of the common people.

Tiananmen Gate

Tiananmen Gate or the Gate of Heavenly Peace is the symbol of new China. It is located in the center of Beijing and stands on the northern end of the Tiananmen Square. It was first built in 1420 and was originally called the Gate of Heavenly Succession, which served as the main entrance to the former Imperial City. At the end of the Ming Dynasty in 1644, it was seriously damaged in the war. When it was rebuilt in 1651 in the Qing Dynasty, the name was changed to Tiananmen Gate. The gate has five passage ways. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the passage way in the middle was used exclusively by the emperor. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Tiananmen Gate was the place where the important state ceremonies for issuing the imperial edict took place, such as the emperor’s enthronement, conferring the honorable title on the Empress or the crown prince, dispatching generals on an expedition to the battles. Tiananmen Gate consists of two parts, the body of the gate and the tower on the top. It used to be 33.7 meters high and was changed to 34.7 meters after the renovated in 1970. It was on this gate tower that Chairman Mao proclaimed to the whole world the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1st 1949. Since then, Tiananmen Gate has been the symbol of new China. There are two slogans on each side, the one on the east means “Long live the great unity of the people in the world”, and the one on the west means “Long live the People’s Republic of China”. The tower was opened to the public on Jan. 1st 1988 for the first time in the Year of the Dragon. To the west side of the Tiananmen Gate is the Zhongshan Park, formerly called the Altar of Land and Grain. It was built in 1420 for offering sacrificial items to the God of Land. The name was changed to Zhongshan Park in 1928 in memory of Dr. Sun Yatsen, the great pioneer of the Chinese Democratic Revolution. To the east side is the Working People’s Cultural Palace that used to be the Supreme Ancestral Temple, where the tablets of the deceased emperors were kept. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, there used to be some rooms in front of the Tiananmen Gate serving as offices of the imperial administration. While the two rows of rooms behind the gate were antechambers for the civil and military officials waiting for the imperial audience given by the emperor.

Great Hall of the People

The Great Hall of the People is located at the western edge of Tiananmen Square which is used for legislative and ceremonial activities by the People’s Republic of China and the Communist Party of China. It functions as the People’s Republic of China’s parliament. The Great Hall of the People was built in September 1959 as one of the “Ten Great Constructions” completed for the 10th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. It was built in 10 months only by volunteers. The building covers 171,800 square meters of floor space, 356 meters in length and 206 meters in width which is the largest congressional building in the world. The highest point of the building is 46.5 meters which makes it the highest building around Tiananmen Square and no building is allowed to be higher than it. At the eaves of the main gate hangs the national emblem of People’s Republic of China. The Great Hall of the People is the political hub of Beijing and home of the National People’s Congress. Every year, in March, the Great Hall of the People plays host to the Liang Hui (literally means “two meetings”) event, where both the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (SCPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC) meet in sessions lasting for two weeks in the Grand Auditorium. The Communist Party of China (CPC) also holds its National Congress every five years in the Great Hall of the People. This enormous building is open to the public when national conference is not in session, and visitors are shown in a selection of routes. Some non-political conventions and concerts have also been held in the Great Hall of the People. The Great Hall of the People mainly consists of three parts: The 10,000-seat Grand Auditorium: The Grand Auditorium in the center has a floor space of 4,500 square meters. It is 60 meters long, 76 meters wide and 32 meters in height. There are 3,693 seats in the lower auditorium, 3,515 seats in the balcony, 2,518 seats in the gallery and 300 to 500 seats on the dais. Government leaders make their speeches and the representatives do much of their business in the auditorium. The Grand Auditorium can simultaneously seat 10,000 representatives. The ceiling is decorated with a galaxy of lights, with a large red star in the centre of the ceiling, and a pattern of a water waves nearby representing the Chinese people uniting closely around the Chinese Communist Party. The Banquet Hall with a Seating Capacity of 5,000: The Banquet Hall with a Seating Capacity of 5,000 is located in the northern part of the Great Hall of the People facing Chang’an Avenue, the longest city center road in the world which is 48 km long. It is an important place for the state leaders to hold banquets for entertaining distinguished guests, such as Richard Nixon in 1972. The Banquet Hall is 102 meters long, 76 meters wide and 15 meters in height, with a floor space of 7,000 square meters. It is big enough to hold a banquet of 5,000 people or a cocktail party for over 10,000 people. The Office for the National People’s Congress: In the southern part of the Great Hall of the People, there are offices for the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and 34 reception halls, which are named after different provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the control of the Central Government, as well as the special administrative regions, like Hong Kong and Macao. The decorations and furnishings in these halls are very different from each other for emphasizing their respective local features and styles.

National Museum of China

The National Museum of China is located at the east side of Tiananmen Square which was formerly called the Museum of Chinese History and Museum of Chinese Revolution. It is 313 meters long, 149 meters wide and 40 meters high, covering an area of 69,000 square meters. The building was one of the “Ten Great Constructions” completed for the 10th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 1959. After four years’ renovation and expansion, the new National Museum reopened on Apr. 1st, 2011 which is the largest museum in the world. There are altogether 48 exhibition rooms in the new National Museum, ranging from 700 - 2000 square meters. The rooms of Ancient China and Road to Rejuvenation are the main basic exhibitions. There are nearly 3,000 historic relics from Yuanmou Man (1,700,000 years ago) to the abdication of the Qing Emperor in 1912 on display in ten exhibition halls. The modern and contemporary revolutionary relics since the First Opium War in 1840 to the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 are also displayed in nine exhibitions halls. There are also a variety of thematic exhibitions in the National Museum, such as the Arts of bronze, porcelain, jade, Chinese calligraphy and paintings, Buddhist statues, Ming and Qing furniture and coins etc.

Additional Information

Kuai Xiang

Kuaixiang was a Chinese architect well-known for designing the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Gate. At the early time of Ming dynasty, he was born in a carpenter’s family in Suzhou city, Jiangsu province. His father was a famous craftsman at that time. Under the influence of his father, he started to learn the engineering of construction from his father since his childhood. In his 30s, Kuaixiang became a famous craftsman in China. When Emperor Zhudi decided to move the capital of China from Nanjing to Beijing in 1407, Kuaixiang was ordered to design and construct the Forbidden City. He used the Imperial Palace in Nanjing as a model and combined features of palaces built in the Tang and Song dynasties into his design. After the completion of the Forbidden City, he was widely praised by the public and even nicknamed “Kuai Luban” (Lu Ban was the greatest master and the forefather of Chinese craftsman). On a picture about the layout of the palaces of Ming and Qing dynasties, his portrait was also pictured in order to show his contribution.

Opening Hours

05:00 - 22:00


Entrance Fee: Free


No.4 Jingshan Qianjie, Dongcheng District, Beijing



City Centre

Getting There


Line 1 Tiananmen West Exit C

Line 1 Tiananmen East Exit D

Line 2 Qianmen Station Exit A or B



(Please take me to the south gate of the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen Square)

Travel Tips

Watch your belongings and avoid talking to strangers (scams)

Passport needed

Last Updated

2018-05-04 13:49:16

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