Tian An Men Square

Tour Day Three: Monday, April 23, 2001

Click this image for the next page.
Tian An Men Square with Mao's Mausoleum in the background

After the construction of the Forbidden City in the fifteenth century, there was no open plaza in front of the city's imposing Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tian An Men), the entryway to the seat of imperial power. A jumble of court buildings occupied most of this muddy plot, which separated the residence of the Divine Beings from the singsong girls of the Qianmen District to the south.

In 1919, after the flight of the last emperor, a student protest against the corrupt Japanese-influenced government erupted into what came to be known as the May 4 Incident. This brief assertion of pride betokened the start of china's modern struggle for nationhood — and of Tian An Men Square's role as a locus of history-changing events.

Along with the 1949 victory of the Communist Revolution and its promise to remake China came the wholesale clearing and reconstruction of the square. As a counterbalance to the 250 acres of privilege represented by the Forbidden City, renamed the Palace Museum by the Communists, Tian An Men Square was expanded until it occupied 100 acres.

Click this image for the next page.
Monument To The People's Heros

Tian An Men Square is a large, multipurpose area, paved in stone at the center of Beijing. It is the largest of its kind in the world. It is large enough to accommodate half a million people at the same time! It is primarily used for cerimonial purposes. Although China has opened itself to the rest of the world, Mao is still highly reviered, and is considered the "father of the country." For the Chinese, a visit to Tian An Men Square is like a visit to Washington D. C. for Americans.

Click this image for the next page.

Mother takes a picture of her husband and daughter with Mao's Mausoleum in the background.

Built in 1976, Mao's mausoleum destroyed the squares' auspicious feng shui by blocking the ancient sight lines and the "meridians of energy" that for 500 years had led straight from the palace's yellow throne through a series of gates to the Temple Of Heaven and all of China beyond.

Click this image for the next page.

All the people in this picture are waiting in line to visit Mao's Tomb.
This is a small part of the crowd that was waiting.

Click any image for more Tian An Men Square pictures.

Page last updated May 28, 2001.