visitor to Beijing gravitates to this square which has become the pulse
of this exciting city of contrasts. It has been said that it can accommodate
over one million people in the 122 acres, and is the largest square in
This area has attracted Beijing citizens and visitors since the mid 17th
Century, but only in the late 1950's was it formally laid out. Since then
many changes have been made to the original concept. In late 1998 and
for nearly half of 1999, the square was closed for a complete refurbishing
in anticipation of the October 1, 1999 50th Anniversary Celebration of
the founding of the People's Republic of China.
The square has been the site of many momentous events such as the declaration
of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the rallies launching the Cultural
Revolution in 1966, the deaths of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in 1976 when
millions of mourners packed the square, and 1989 when student protestors
occupied the square for nearly two months while the world watched the
events unfold on TV's in their living rooms. In June, 1989 government
troops and tanks brought the event to a violent conclusion. On each 5th
year anniversary the government hosts huge military parades highlighting
their military might and capabilities. The largest of these events occurred
on October 1, 1999 when the 50th anniversary was celebrated.
Surrounding the square are the Great Hall of the People, Museum of Chinese
History and the Museum of Chinese Revolution, Mao Zedong Mausoleum, and
the Qianmen Gate. On the north end is the Gate of Heavenly Peace which
is the entrance to the Forbidden City, or Palace Museum as it is sometime
called. The Gate Tower has a large portrait of Chairman Mao displayed
over the entrance. At the center of the square stands the Monument to
the People's Heroes.
Visitors may want to visit the square at sunrise when the national flag
is raised each day in a grand ceremony. A similar ceremony is repeated
at sunset when the flag is lowered.
Bicycles and kite flyers are usually in evidence in the square as well
as hundreds if not thousands of visitors. They are all but specks in this