Welcome To China – Tiananmen Square
China is a vast country with Beijing as it’s capital. Tiananmen Square lies at the heart of Beijing and the city radiates out from the Square in expanding concentric rings. Tiananmen can serve as a good frame of reference for the traveler. And it is also a great place to start your journey through China.
The full name of the square – Tiananmen Guangchange – means The Square of the Gate of Heavenly Peace.The square itself is a broad open concrete expanse. It’s open to the public but you may be asked to go through scanners as you enter. The square is popular, crowded, and generally full of activity. If you want to experience it in a more quiet manner – get there early in the morning or stay until dusk. At the center of the square is single memorial column – the Monument to the People’s Heroes. The best approach to the square is from the south, passing by or through the Arrow Tower and Zhengyang Men Tower – a double gate formation known as the Quian Men dating from the Ming dynasty.
North of the Zhengyang Men tower you come to the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao. If you are into that sort of thing, you can view his embalmed body which is raised from it’s refrigerated chambers for viewings in morning and afternoon. Be aware – lines can be long and you must check all coats, bags and cameras before entering.
North of Mao’s Mausoleum you cross open space and come to the Monument of the People’s Heros in the center of the square. To the West of the square you can see the Great Hall of the People – seat of the Chinese Legislature. To the East of the square is the China National Museum.
At the North end of the square is the National Flag of China. With formal military ceremony, the flag is raised at dawn and lowered at dusk each day
Immediately north of the National Flag (and across a very busy street – fortunately their are understreet walkways surrounding the square ) is the Main North Entrance to The Forbidden City.
Tiananmen Square is typically full of people and activities. It’s a great place to get an initial sense of China today. Local folks mingle with tourists from all over the world. There is some sense of a military presence. You will encounter security as you enter the square. And vigilant police and military personnel are on patrol. They seem to be always very serious. But beyond this it’s a very friendly and festive place. Yet it does have it’s recent history and it’s hard to visit without thinking back on events of 1989. Growing numbers of Chinese had been been pressing for governmental reforms. Protests spread to the center of Beijing – and focused in Tiananmen Square. On June 4th, 1989 the Chinese government sent in the army to end the protests. Sometimes referred to as the Tiananmen Massacre, estimates of protesters killed range from hundreds to thousands. Afterwards the Chinese government essentially banned the topic of the Tiananmen Square event in China, with any mention of it in media, publication, or art being subject to censorship. As far as I am aware, this continues to be the case. (Guess this post won’t be seen in China)
Take Pleasure and Reflect ……… Enjoy the Adventure!
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