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     Tian'anmen Square and Its Surrounding

With a total area of 440,000 square meters, the Tian'anmen Square, located in the center of Beijing, is the largest of its kind. Over a hundred years, many ceremonies and demonstrations have been held here.

The grand Tian'anmen Gate (Heavenly Peace Gate) is a national symbol with the Great Hall of the People on the western side and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the Museum of Chinese History to its east and west.

The Monument to the People's Heroes -- the 36 meters high obelisk made of Qingdao granite, dominates the center of the square. The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Qianmen gate, sit in the south. 

                        Tian'anmen Gate        

Tian'anmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) was built in the 15th century and restored in the 17th century. From imperial days, the yellow glaze-tiled double-eave tower functioned as a rostrum for proclaiming pronouncements to the assembled masses. On October 1, 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the new China here. The tower has five doors and in front of it are seven bridges spanning a stream. Only the emperor could use the central door and bridge. On the top of the central door is a gigantic portrait of Chairman Mao with slogans on each side saying 'Long Live the People's Republic of China' and 'Long Live the Unity of the Peoples of the World'. The gate leads to the imperial city -- the Forbidden City.    Tian'anmen Gate   
 
Right beside a pair of marble lions in front of the Tian'anmen Gate stand obelisk marble columns engraved with entwining dragons and clouds -- an ornamental architecture called Hua Biao. Its history can be traced back to the Yao and Shun, legendary kings in remote antiquity. It is said that, to improve the quality of governance, wooden crosses were erected at marketplaces for people to write down complaints. During the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), wooden posts were replaced by stone pillars, which gradually developed into the sumptuous columns that lead to palace gates. Hua Biao can usually be found in imperial gardens and mausoleums.

On top of the Hua Biao is a plate-like disc called Chenglupan (dew-collecting) on which squats an animal called Kong (a legendary animal for keeping guard) facing the south. They were called "Wangjungui" or "looking forward to the emperor's return", which watched over the emperor's excursions and called him back. The couple inside the gate facing north, called Wangjunchu or "looking forward to the emperor's progress", was considered to supervise the emperor's behavior in the court when he neglect court affairs.     Tian'anmen Gate   

The Great Hall of the People

The Great Hall of the People flanks the western side of Tian'anmen Square (If you stand with your back to Tian'anmen Gate it is on the right-hand side of the square.). Constructed in 1959, it's over 40 meters high, with a floor space of 171800 square meters, when it is in session. The Great Hall has numerous conference rooms, banquet halls, and reception areas, many of vast size: the major conference hall accommodates 10000 people and the huge banquet hall can seat 5000. Great Hall of the People

Monument to the People's Heroes

The granite Monument to the People's Heroes,or Renmin Yinxiong Jinian Bei,is just at the center of the Tiananmen Square.The late Chairman Mao Zedong laid the cornerstone (foundation stone) himself on September 30, 1949. Built in 1952, it is the largest monument in China's history. Completed in 1958, more than 10,000 tons of stone were used for the 40 meter high obelisk.The gilded inscription on the north face is in Chairman Mao's calligraphy and reads:" The People's Heroes Are Immortal." The base of the obelisk is decorated with bar-relief carvings depicting major events of the revolution. Monument to People's Heroes

Mao Zedong Memorial Hall

Located at the southern end of Tian'anmen Square just behind the Monument to the Heroes of the People is the hall where the remains of Chairman Mao are kept. Many Chinese show deep respect when confronted with the physical presence of Mao.

It is a relatively new structure. Construction began in 1976 after the death of our leader Mao Zedong and completed only a year later in 1977. Chairman Mao was born on December 26, 1893, in Hunan Province. He passed away in Beijing on September 9, 1976, at the age of 83.   Chairman Mao Memorial Hall 

The hall is 260 meters long from north to south, 220 meters wide from east to west and 33.6 meters high. Like the Monument to the Heroes of the People, it is also located on the central axis of old Beijing. It has five parts, namely, the Courtyard, the Memorial Hall, the North Hall, the Viewing Hall and the South Hall.   Chairman Mao Memorial Hall 

In the Viewing Hall, the remains of Chairman Mao are displayed in a crystal casket. The casket is mechanically raised from a freezer for viewing during the day and then lowered again at night. It can be viewed on most mornings.

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Though the square itself is not particularly good-looking, it is immense (covering 44 hectares, it is the largest square in the world) and filled with tourists from all parts of China every day. In the middle of the square is the Monument to the People's Heroes. Directly north is Chang'an Avenue, Beijing's main drag. Acorss the street is Tian'anmen Gate, which is recognizable instantly by the huge portrait of Mao Zedong hanging on it. Tian'anmen Gate is the gate which leads to the Forbidden City. To the west is the Great Hall of the People, which houses the National People's Congress, but when Congress is not in session the Hall is the venue for concerts and cultural events.

The Great Hall is occasionally rented out for other purposes as well. Off to the east is the National History Museum, on which is displayed a large digital countdown clock, ticking off the days and seconds until the return of Macao to Chinese sovereignty on December 20, 1999. Before July 1, 1997, the same clock was used to count down the days until the return of Hong Kong. Back to the south is the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, where you can wait in line and be quickly ushered (sans camera) past the crystal coffin where "Mao"now lies. Incidentally, the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall is the only attraction in Beijing that has free admission. The other interesting thing to do in the square is to watch the flag-raising ceremony at sunrise. This is the perfect activity for travelers who have not yet recovered battalion of PLA troops marches out each morning and raises the flag exactly at sunrise. Then, at sunset the flag is taken down again.

Tourists gather in the square to watch this solemn ceremony. Exact times for sunrise and sunset are posted next to the flagpole in red, digital numbers. On holidays and special occasions the square is filled with flower arrangements and fountains. There are people all over the square hawking kites, as it is a popular site for locals to go and fly their kites, which range from simple one-piece jobs, to elaborate meters long dragons.

The Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of Chinese Revolution

The Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of Chinese Revolution share a single building complex, which runs more than 300 meters north and south along the eastern side of Tian'anmen Square. The four-story main building with its two symmetrical wings was built in 1959 as part of the project to build 10 monumental buildings in Beijing. National Museum of China

Rising 40 meters at its highest point, the creamy yellow structure is decorated with a band of alternating green and yellow glazed tiles surrounding its eaves. On each side of the entrance stands a pylon in the form of a burning torch, symbolizing Mao Zedong's famous prophecy "A single spark can start a prairie fire."

Climbing up the granite steps the visitor will find himself inside a vestibule. To the east is the Central Hall, to the north the Museum of Chinese History, and to the south the Museum of the Chinese Revolution.

The Central Hall is dedicated to the memory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, and sculptured representations of their heads appear on the wall, lit by a skylight framed with ornamental white flowers.

The two museums are arranged symmetrically, each with an introductory hall and 17 exhibition halls. The exhibits housed in the museums are arranged over the course of hallways two kilometers long. The solemnity of the Central Hall contrasts with the airy simplicity of the exhibition halls.

The original Museum of Chinese History opened to the public in 1926, when it was known simply as the Museum of History. Despite 14 years of preparatory work, its collection was meager, including Han Dynasty pottery and bricks excavated from three tombs at Xinyang, Henan Province; Song Dynasty furniture and pottery found in the Song city of Julu in Hebei Province; and several jade seals from the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-1864). National Museum of China

After 1949, however, the collection expanded rapidly to include over 30,000 pieces. Some of these came from official sources, such as the North China Administration of Cultural Relics, while more than 16,900 pieces came from private collections. Among these are a number of precious items such as a blue glazed lamp of the Six Dynasties period (222-589), Tang stone figurines, and a Ming embroidered silk portrait of the Heavenly Kings (Devarajas).

Exhibitions held in the Museum of Chinese History can be divided into those of a permanent nature, such as the present exhibition of the Comprehensive History of China, which begins with the period of primitive tribes and ends with the May 4th Movement in 1919; and those of a temporary nature, which include local history exhibitions and traveling exhibits from foreign museums     

The present Tiananmen Square has an area of 440,000 square meters and has become a relaxing place for the common people to fly kites and walk. On a holiday, the whole square is covered with fresh flowers.

Admission Fee: Free for square visiting; CNY 15 for tower ascending
Opening Hours: Flag-Raising Time - Flag-Lowering Time (Please refer to 2010 Timetable for Flag-Raising Ceremony for the schedule)
Recommended Time for a Visit: Half an hour
Subway: Subway Line 1: get off at Tiananmen East or Tiananmen West Station.
Subway Line 2: get off at Qianmen Station and walk north.
Bus Route: Take bus 1, 5, 10, 22, 37, 52, 205, 728 or 802 and get off at Tiananmen West.
Take bus 1, 2, 10, 20, 37, 52, 59, 82, 120, 126, 203, 205, 210, 728 or 802 and get off at Tiananmen East.
Take bus 2, 5, 8, 20, 22, 120, 126, 203, or 210 and get off at Tiananmen Square East.
Take bus 2, 5, 20, 120, 126 or 210 and get off at Tiananmen Square West.

               Gate of Heavenly Peace
                Monument to People's Heroes
                Great Hall of the People
               National Museum of China
              Chairman Mao Memorial Hall 

                Tiananmen Underground Passage &  Sculptures and Arrow Gate

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