Home>>>City Guide>>>>Attraction>>>>Beijing

Gate of Heavenly Peace

Tian'anmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) Rostrum was opened to the public for the first time in its history in 1988. From the rostrum of Tian'anmen, the late Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1,1949, and since then it has been the symbol of New China.

Tian'anmen Gate was the principal entry to the Imperial Palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

It is one of the finest monumental gates in the world, extraordinary for its imposing size. Ornamental Columns (huabiao), stone lions and white marble bridges decorate the front.

Early in the Ming Dynasty, a wooden memorial gate covered in yellow-glazed tiles was built on the present site. Known as the Gate of Receiving Grace from Heaven (Chengtianmen), it burned down, and was later rebuilt in 1465 during the reign of the Ming Emperor Xianzong.

At the end of the dynasty, when the peasant leader Li Zicheng, who had defeated Ming forces, was driven out by Qing troops, many buildings were destroyed. The Gate of receiving Grace from Heaven burned again, leaving only the foundation of its walls.

In 1651, under the Qing Emperor Shunzhi, the gate tower was rebuilt in the original style and renamed Tian'anmen -- the Gate of Heavenly Peace. Today it retains the basic character of the early Qing gate.

The base of Tian'anmen, pierced with five arched gateways and set on a foundation of white marble, stands 10 meters high. It is built of huge bricks, each weighing approximately 24 kilograms. On top of this massive structure stands a palace-like gate tower with its roof top 33.7 meters above the ground. A low wall surrounding the gate tower encircles a white marble balustrade which frame the gate tower on four sides. The roof is covered with the same imperial yellow-glazed tiles found on every building in the Imperial Palace.

On the roof ridges is a menagerie of animals purported to protect the palace and its inhabitants from danger. Prominent among these are 10 carved dragon heads at the ends of the main roof and at each corner of the double roof. (Picture Click to enlarge)

   

Just before the southern entrance to Tian'anmen, seven arched bridges, shaped like curving jade belts, cross the Golden River (Jinshuihe). The central bridge is slightly wider than the rest and forms part of the Imperial Way -- the path over which only the emperor could pass.

One of the more unusual features of Tian'anmen is a pair of 10-meter-high white marble columns (huabiao) topped by a "dish for collecting dew." A carved stone animal known as a "heaven-gazing hou"(a small, lion-like legendary creature) squats inside each dish. These dishes were used to catch the "jade dew" imbibed by the emperor to ensure long life. According to the legend. The "heaven-gazing hou" watched over the emperor's activities when he was away from the palace, hoping he would not overindulge in his pleasures. If the emperor did not return in good time, the creatures would warn him, "Your Majesty, you mustn't spend so much time enjoying yourself. Hurry back and attend to state affairs! We've nearly worn our eyes out waiting for your return!" The "heaven-gazing hou " are also called "Watching for the Monarch's Return," and the stone columns, the "Watching Columns."

Below is a pair of carved stone lions, one with his paw on an embroidered ball, the other playing with a cub. That the king of beasts should be reduced to an obedient watchdog in the presence of the emperor is a clear sign of the Son of Heaven's supreme authority.

In modern Chinese history, several large mass demonstrations have taken place here. The most famous was on May 4, 1919, when more than 3,000 students from Beijing schools and universities came to the square to demonstrate against imperialism and the rule of the mili-tary leaders. The event was a landmark in modern Chinese history.
 

The building is 66 meters long, 37 meters wide and 32 meters high. It is made up of a platform and a tower. The tower sits on the platform with five arch gateways. As the largest of the five, the center archway is used as the specific passage for Ming and Qing emperors while the side ones are smaller and employed as the passages for ministers and officials. Above the archway hangs a large portrait of Maozedong, on the east and west sides of which are two giant placards, the left one reading: "Long Live the People's Republic of China" while the right one reading: "Long Live the Great Unity of the World's Peoples." .On the west side of Tiananmen stands Zhongshan Park, formerly called Altar of Land and Grain ( Shejitan).  It was built in 1420 for offering sacrificial items to the Land God. The name was changed to Zhongshan Park in 1928 in memory of Dr. Sun-yat-sen, the great pioneer of the Chinese Democratic Revolution. On the east side is the Working People’s Cultural Palace that used to be the Supreme Ancestral Temple ( Taimiao) ,  where the tablets of the deceased dynastic rulers were kept. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the rooms in front of the Gate of Tian’anmen were offices of the imperial administration while the two rows of rooms on both sides behind the Gate of Tian’anmen were antechambers for the civil and military officials waiting for the imperial audience given by the emperor.  Today, they are temporary exhibition rooms, souvenir shops and offices for the guards of honor for the National Flag.

Since November 1987, Gate of Heavenly Peace began to be open to the public and common people can step on Tiananmen and overlook Tiananmen Square just as the state leaders once did. It has always been a lure for tons of tourists from all over the world.

Fees for visiting the tower CNY 15 for adult; CNY 5 for students and those who are up to 70 years old; free for active army
Opening Hours: 08:30 to 17:00
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 no.1, 5, 10, 22, 37, 52, 205, 728 or 802 and get off at Tiananmen West.
Take bus no.1, 2, 10, 20, 37, 52, 59, 82, 120, 126, 203, 205, 210, 728 or 802 and get off at Tiananmen East.
Take bus no.2, 5, 8, 20, 22, 120, 126, 203, or 210 and get off at Tiananmen Square East.
Take bus no.2, 5, 20, 120, 126 or 210 and get off at Tiananmen Square West.


        Beijing Attractions 

        Tian'anmen Square and Its Surrounding

                   Chairman Mao Memorial Hall 
                Monument to People's Heroes
                Great Hall of the People
               National Museum of China
                Tiananmen Underground Passage &  Sculptures and Arrow Gate