China; Beijing and Tiananmen Square

The largest public square in the world is located in Beijing, China. It is no less than 500 x 800 meters in size and can accommodate 1,000,000 people. The square once hosted the parades of the Red Army. It was also in the world news in 1989 when the army violently suppressed the student demonstration.

General

The square was constructed in the 17th century and quickly became the heart of the city. After the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed by Mao Zedong, it was often the scene of Red Army parades.

Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Square)

Another name for this square is Tiananmen Guangchan and is located on Changan Jie, south of the Imperial Palace. The square was built in 1651 and forms the heart of the city and was world news on June 4, 1989 when the student demonstration for more freedom and democracy was violently suppressed by the army.
According to some, this square is the largest public square in the world. This is where the classical heritage and revolutionary symbolism come together. Various historical events have taken place on the square over the years, namely:

  • 1919, demonstration to demand government reforms
  • 1949, in October, Mao Zedong’s speech took place, with hundreds of thousands of civilians and soldiers gathered in the square. The People’s Republic was proclaimed here.
  • In the late 1950s, the square became 4 times as large (500 m. wide and 800 m. long), so that there was room for 1,000,000 people.
  • In April 1976, the end of the cultural revolution was heralded here by the people of Beijing. This was done by filling the square with flowers and texts in memory of Zhou Enlai.
  • In October 1999, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China took place. To this end, the square was renovated for a year.

Today, the square is used by the Chinese as a kind of park, where kites are flown and social contacts are maintained.

Monument to the People’s Heroes

In the middle of the square is the Monument to the People’s Heroes, a granite obelisk (37 meters high and 60 tons heavy) from May 1, 1958 dedicated to the soldiers who died during the Revolution. The Chinese call the statue the renmin yingziong jinian bei. The lower part of the base is decorated with bas reliefs, depicting the history of the Chinese Revolution from the 1st Opium War to the founding of the People’s Republic. On one side of the obelisk is an inscription in Mao’s handwriting: Eternal Glory to the People’s Heroes. On the other side a text by Zhou Enlai (former Prime Minister of China).

Mao’s Mausoleum

The Chinese name for this monument is Mao zhuxi jiniantang. The mausoleum is 30 m high, built in honor of Mao Zedong, and is located in front of the Zhengyangmen Gate. The mausoleum was built (opened on September 9, 1977) after Mao’s death in 1976 as a lasting monument to the founder of the People’s Republic of China. It is a two-storey square building, the roof of which is supported by 44 granite pillars. Mao’s body was embalmed and laid out in full regalia (his typical blue suit and covered with the Communist Party flag) in a crystal coffin, facing the imperial north-south axis, in the Central Hall of the mausoleum. Various rumors circulate about the authenticity of his embalmed body. This monument also contains rooms in memory of other heads of state and party leaders and there is a white marble statue of a sitting Mao. The background of the room where the statue is located was painted by Huang Yongyu.

Gate of Heavenly Peace

This gate bears the Chinese name Tiananmen Gate. In fact, the entire square owes its name to this gate. Today the gate is the entrance to the Imperial Palace, as it is part of the wall surrounding the Forbidden City. When China was still the Republic of China, there was a portrait of Sun Yatsen on the gate. Now that it is the People’s Republic of China, Mao’s portrait adorns the gate. This is the only public building where Mao still hangs.
The gate is high and made of red stone, with a double roof, the tiles of which have a golden yellow color. The gate dates from 1417, when it was called Guomen (Gate of the Empire) and was originally built of wood. After fire damage in 1465, the gate was rebuilt, but now made of stone. A second destruction took place in 1651.

Great Hall of the People

The Renmindahuitang is on the west side of the square. The building is 50,000 m² (310 meters wide) and houses the Chinese parliament and departments. There is a banquet hall that can accommodate more than 5,000 people, and can accommodate up to 10,000 during a meeting. The building was built in 1959.

Museum of Chinese History and Revolution

The zhongguo lishi bowuguan/zhongguo geming bowuguan is located on the east side of the square. The museum dates from 1959. The right side of the building contains the history of China from the Beijing people to 1919, when the May Revolution took place. Many of the pieces on display come from private collections from China and around the world. Chinese discoveries are also exhibited here, such as printing, gunpowder, compass and paper making.
The left side of the building contains a collection of photographs of all Chinese revolutions and uprisings that have taken place since 1919. Of course also the history of the Communist Party in China.