Tian'anmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace)
The symbol of New China, this gate was built in 1417 and renovated in 1981. It was originally called the Gate of Heavenly Succession. The late Chairman Mao proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China on the rostrum on October 1st, 1949. The gate has five passages, which were closed and used onlyon ceremonial occasions in the old days. The emperor alone was entitled to pass through the central passage. Before leaving on a journey he would make a sacrifice in front of the gate. At other times imperial edicts were sent down, in a gilded box shaped like a phoenix, to officials kneeling below. Hence the expression:' the Imperial Orders Given by the Gilded Phoenix.' The edict was then taken to the Ministry of Rites where copies were made for dispatch to the whole country.
Tian'anmen Square occupies an area of 49 hectares (122 acres), big enough to hold half a million people. The square has witnessed the Chinese people's struggle against foreign aggression and reactionary rule at home.
In 1919, the May 4th Movement broke out in Beijing. Students and residents staged a patriotic demonstration in the square. In 1935, students in Beijing launched the December 9th Movement against the Japanese aggression and Chiang Kai-shek's policy of non-resistance, They held a demonstration in the square.
On April 5, 1976, lots of people gathered here to commemorate Zhou Enlai and oppose the 'Gang of Four'.
Many tourists to Tian'anmen Square would like to have their pictures taken in front of the white marble Jinshuiqiao (Gold Water Bridges).
The bridges were named after the Gold Water River they span, Seven bridges, each supported by three arches, cross the Outer Gold Water River in front of Tian'anmen, Zhongshan Park, and the Beijing Working People's Palace of Culture. Five one-arched bridges cross the Inner Gold Water River inside the Forbidden City between Wumen (Meridian Gate) and Taihemen (Gate of Supreme Harmony).
The outer bridges, together with two graceful Huabiao (ornamental columns) and two stone lions nearby, set off Tian'anmen, making it look more imposing. The inner bridges make the spacious square look harmonious.
During the Ming and Qing (1368 - 1911) dynasties, the middle one of the seven outer bridges, which is larger than the others was called Yuluqiao (Bridge of the Imperial Way) and was used exclusively by the emperor. The two bridges on each side were called Wanggongqiao (Royal Bridges) and were used by the royal family. The two bridges farther out were the Pinjiqiao (Ranking Bridges) and were used by civil and military officials above the third rank. Those of the fourth rank and below could use only the outer two bridges, which were called Gongshengqiao (Public Bridges).
Tian'anmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) Rostrum
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.
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 military leaders. The event was a landmark in modern Chinese history.
The structure was first named Chengtianmen (Gate of Power Endowed from Heaven or Gate of Heavenly Succession) when it was built in 1417 as the main gate of the former Imperial Palace. In 1456 the wooden structure burned down after it was struck by lightning. It was rebuilt in 1651, and renamed Tian'anmen. In 1644, when Li Zicheng, the leader of a peasant uprising, was defeated by the Manchus, he set fire to the building before running away from the city. The building was enlarged when it was rebuilt for the second time in 1651, and this is The structure Which still stands today. The nine-room-wide and five-room-long wooden gate tower was built to reflect the highly-exalted status of the Emperor.
Located to the north of Tian'anmen Square, the building has red stone walls, a wooden roof and five entrances-the largest, in the middle, leads to the Forbidden City, The building is surrounded by a moat, Jinshui (Golden Water), which was designed to guard the Imperial Palace. Five marble bridges, the Golden Water bridges, lead to the five passages of the gate. Two ornamental columns stand in front of the whole complex.
The gate and the square were out of bounds to the public in imperial time. The Emperor alone was entitled to pass through the central passage. Before leaving on a journey he would make a sacrifice in front of the gate. At other times imperial edicts were sent down, in a gilded box shaped like a phoenix, to officials kneeling below. Hence the expression:' the Imperial Orders Given by the Gilded Phoenix.' The edict was then taken to the Ministry of Rites where copies were made for dispatch to the whole country. It was also the place for the Emperor to review royal armies and receive prisoners of war.
Tian'anmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) Rostrum
Tian'anmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) is not only the site of the most important gatherings since the founding of the People's Republic of China, but also one of the most valuable historical sites in China. Parades take place here on important days, such as the rallies on May 1, International Labour Day. Before each parade the building is repainted and generally tidied up. The whole tower roof was replaced as part of a large-scale restoration in 1984, following the original line and shape. The balcony is 34.7 metres high, 62.77 metres long and 27.25 metres wide. It can hold 20,000 guests. The tourist can get a good view of the 40 hectare square across the five marble bridges. To the north is the Forbidden City.There are 67 steps leading to the top of the Rostrum of Tian'anmen Gate.
Great Hall of the People
The Great Hall of the People, completed in 1959, has a total floor space of 171,800 square metres.
It is divided into three parts: offices for the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and reception halls, a 10,000-seat Auditorium and the Banquet Hall accommodating 5,000 people.
East of the square lie the Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution. These two museums were built in 1959. The History Museum houses a permanent exhibition showing Chinese history from 2.5 million years ago to the year of 1919. The Museum of the Chinese Revolution covers the period from 1919 to 1949.
Chairman Mao Memorial Hall
South of the Monument to the People's Heroes is Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. The foyer houses a seated figure of Chairman Mao in white marble. Behind it is a 7-by-24 metre needlepoint woollen tapestry 'Such a beauty is our motherland'. In the second room, Chairman Mao's remains recline in a crystal coffin, with the red flag of the Communist Party of China draped over his body. The building was completed in 1977.
Currently, the remains of late Chairman Mao are mechanically raised from a freezer for viewing, then lowered again at night.
The sculpture groups are 6 to 8 metres high and 7 to 15 metres long. The two on the north side are designed on the theme 'Great Contributions', representing what the Chinese people achieved in the last half century under the leadership of Chairman Mao. Those on the south side have as their theme 'Carry Out Chairman Mao's Behests', expressing the Chinese people's determination to act on his behests and carry the cause of our proletarian revolution through to the end.
Monument to the People's Heroes
The Monument to the People's Heroes was built in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the revolutionary struggle of the Chinese people in the past century. It was built in accordance with the resolution of the First Plenary Session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference adopted on November 3O, 1949. Chairman Mao and other delegates laid the corner stone for the monument on that afternoon.
The 38-metre-high monument was open on July 1, 1958. It covers an area of 3,000 square metres. The stone tablet is from Qingdao, Shandong Province. On the front is an inscription in Chairman Mao's handwriting:' Eternal glory to the people's heroes!' On the back is the late Premier Zhou Enlai's message:' Eternal glory to the people's heroes who laid down their lives in the War of Liberation in the past three years and the people's revolution in the past three decades! Eternal glory to the people's heroes who laid down their lives in the struggles against foreign and domestic enemies, for national independence and for the people's freedom and happiness from 1840 onward !'
At the base of the tablet are eight huge bas-relieves carved out of white marble covering the revolutionary episodes.
1) Burning Opium in the Opium War in 1840
A revolutionary movement broke out to resist the smuggling of large quantities of opium into China by the British imperialists. In June, 1839, altogether 1,150,000 kilogrammes of opium was destroyed. It showed the Chinese people's determination to struggle against imperialism and marked the beginning of their resistance.
2) The Jintian Village Uprising in Taiping Revolution
The Taiping Revolution was the biggest and longest revolutionary peasant uprising in the Chinese history. Led by Hong Xiuquan, this great anti-imperialist, anti-feudal peasant movement first broke out in Jintian Village in Guangxi in 1851. The revolutionary flames soon spread to six provinces and the revolutionaries established their capital in Nanjing.
3) Wuchang Uprising (1911 Revolution)
1911 was the year in which the decisive battle against the Manchu Government was fought. Late on the evening of October 10, the revolutionary forces wrecked the cannon in front of the office building of the governor of both Hunan and Hubei provinces, pulled down the royal flag and broke through the gate of the governor's mansion. The first success of the revolution was at Wuhan, The last feudal dynasty collapsed under the fierce attack of the revolutionary torrent on October 10, 1911.
4) May 4th Movement
An anti-imperialist patriotic movement broke out on May 4,1919 in Beijing. It was the turning point of the Chinese democratic revolution. On that day, several thousand Beijing students held a rally in front of Tian'anmen. A parade followed in which participants held aloft banners inscribed 'No signature to the 'peace treaty'!' and distributed the leaflets 'Uphold our sovereignty! Punish the traitors!'
5) May 30th Movement
A demonstration by Shanghai workers and students on May 30, 1925 ushered in a vigorous anti-imperialist movement. Demonstrators' banners thundered 'Down with the imperialists!' and 'Revenge Gu Zhenghong, a splendid representative of China's workers shot down by the imperialists!'
6) Nanchang Uprising
Chiang Kai-shek launched a coup on April 12, 1927 and began slaughtering Communists. To save the revolution and continue struggle, the Chinese Communist Party fired the first shot at the Kuomintang reactionaries in the Nanchang Uprising on August 1, 1927. This was the day the Chinese Communist Party began to lead the revolutionary armed forces independently against the counter-revolutionary armed forces. Hence August 1 is the birthday of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
7) War of Resistance Against Japan
Army men and civilians in the revolutionary base areas carried out Chairman Mao's thinking on protracted war. The Chinese Communist Party called on the people's army to go to the enemy's rear to launch guerrilla warfare, mine warfare, etc. War educated the people and the people won the war.
8) Successful Crossing of the Yangtze River
This was the prelude to the liberation of the whole country. An army one million strong made a forced crossing of the Yangtze River on April 21, 1949 to overthrow the Chiang Kai-shek regime.
On the right are the masses helping the PLA men to make the crossing. On the left are the liberated Nanjing people welcoming the entrance of the PLA men. The liberation of the Kuomintang capital heralded the liberation of the whole country.
At the southern end of the square stands the Front Gate. It is one of the few remaining gates of the city wall. It was built in 1420 in the early Ming Dynasty and renovated in 1977. In the old days the wall was guarded by watchtowers placed at regular intervals around the perimeter. The double gate system played an important role in repulsing enemy attacks. If the first gate was breached, the enemy would still find themselves outside the city wall and would be fired upon from the tower over the inner gate.