The world's largest public square, Tiananmen Square is
a vast desert of paving stones at the heart of Beijing. It may be a
grandiose, Maoist tourist trap, but the view is breathtaking on a clear
day and at nightfall. Kites flit through the sky, children stamp around
and Chinese out-of-towners huddle together for the obligatory photo
Mao conceived the square to project the enormity of the
Communist Party, so it's all a bit Kim Il Sung-ish. During the Cultural
Revolution the chairman reviewed parades of up to a million people here.
In 1976 another million people jammed the square to pay their last
respects to Mao. In 1989 army tanks and soldiers forced pro-democracy
demonstrators out of the square.
Surrounding the square is a mishmash of monuments, past
and present: the Gate of Heavenly Peace; the Museum of Chinese History and
Museum of the Chinese Revolution; the Great Hall of the People; the Front
Gate; the Chairman Mao Mausoleum, where you can purchase Mao memorabilia
and catch a glimpse of the man himself (when his mortuary make-up isn't
being refreshed); and the Monument to the People's Heroes.
Chinese Name: 天安门广场
Tel: 010-6524 3322 (Chinese language only)