Located in the heart of Beijing, Tiananmen Square is one of the country’s most significant destinations and is often seen as the essence of Beijing. At any one time, the square is packed with people looking to either visit the Forbidden City, pay their respects at the Chairman Mao Mausoleum, or see any one of the many other attractions located nearby. Here’s what you can expect when you arrive.
Interesting Facts About Tiananmen Square
-Tiananmen Square is one of the biggest squares in the world, coming in at 440,000 square meters.
-Within just a half an hour’s walk, you have access to a huge number of Beijing’s main sightseeing quarters.
-Tiananmen Square was once practically the center of Beijing.
-The Square was first built in 1415 but quadrupled in size in the 1950s.
-Tiananmen actually means ‘heavenly gate’.
History Of Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square is one of China’s most interesting and important public squares. Having been first built in 1415 during the Ming dynasty, the square acted as a division between the people and the royalty.
At that time, the square was only one quarter the size it is now, but it was still large enough to be an impressive construction feat.
Just outside the entrance to the forbidden city, what is now a tourist attraction was once a place which only allowed royalty and their servants.
This changed in the last century, and the square is now open to the general public. Tiananmen Square became a monument to the China which came before, and a trophy of the new government. In 1950, the square’s size was increased, making it the huge open space it is today.
In the first decade after the PRC took over, there would be an annual military parade which mirrored those the Russians would conduct in the Soviet era. These marches aimed to draw up support from the people and show the strength of the government. They continued for 10 years until the government decreased their size. Now, much smaller events are held on China’s National Day (October 1) instead.
In 1976, after Chairman Mao died, a mausoleum was built in the square for people to visit his body. To this day, the square and mausoleum are still frequented by many people from around the world.
Culture Of Tiananmen Square
As the center of China’s capital city, Tiananmen square is without a doubt one of the most significant and important sights in China. During Beijing’s holiday seasons, over 8.2 million people visit this place. Standing amongst those people, you’ll be able to feel a sense of wonder which you can’t really find anywhere else.
Flag Raising Ceremony
If you’re looking for what to do in Tiananmen Square, then the Flag Raising Ceremony should be at the top of your list. Taking place every day at sunrise (there is also a lowering ceremony at sundown), the guards will sing the Chinese national anthem as they salute to the flag and either welcome in a new day, or say goodbye to the one just gone.
Great Hall Of People
If you’re really interested in catching the culture behind the square, make sure to visit the Great Hall of the People. The hall was first built in 1959 and is the location where most of China’s large political meetings take place.
There are three main parts to the Great Hall of the People; the Central Hall, the Great Auditorium, and a Banquet Hall. Make sure to come on a day where a meeting is taking place and you might just see some Chinese officials enter or exit.
Memorial Hall Of Chairman Mao
The Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao is very possibly the Square’s most visited attraction. Inside, the preserved body of Chairman Mao still remains on show for visitors to see. As one of the most important singular figures in modern Chinese history, the air in the memorial hall is one of respect and reverence. Make sure to follow suit.
National Museum Of China
Located just off to the side of Tiananmen Square, the National Museum of China is impressive. Having only been around since 2003, the museum has collected an impressive array of artifacts. These stem from China’s ancient history, to more recent relics from the Cultural Revolution and onwards.
Altogether, the museum is home to the history of China from over 1 million years ago (yes, that long) to the date on which the last emperor abdicated his throne (1921).
Tips For Visiting Tiananmen Square
-Tiananmen Square is free to enter, although if you want to travel into the Forbidden city, then it will cost you an entrance fee.
-The main way to get into Tiananmen square is via the metro. You will arrive at Tiananmen East or West stations on Subway Line 1.
-Once you’ve explored the square, it might be a good idea to head over to either Zhongshan Park or Changpu River Park. Both are nearby and worth the visit.
-Keep in mind that Tiananmen Square is heavily guarded and security is tight. You will have to pass through a minimum of 3 security checkpoints to enter, and may be searched if they think you are suspicious. There’s nothing to worry about. This is normal and everyone must go through this. As long as you don’t bring anything dangerous with you, you will be fine.
-Also bear in mind that the square can get very busy and that the sun can be very hot here. Make sure to pack sunscreen and bring bottled water. Water and refreshments can be bought in the square, but the markup price is incredible. It is much better to prepare before you arrive.
How To See Tiananmen Square
-If you’re interested in seeing the whole of China, why not check out the Epic 14 Day Cultural Heritage Tour, where you’ll visit more than just Beijing.
-You can also try the 4 day Private Tour of Beijing With a Travel Guide, including a look some of Beijing’s hidden histories and attractions.