One of the largest public squares in the world, originally designed and built in Beijing in 1651 and enlarged in 1958. It is named for the massive stone “Gate of Heavenly Peace” (Tiananmen) at its northern end. It contains and is surrounded by halls, museums, and monuments, including the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, where Mao's body rests in state. Tiananmen Square is the site of numerous parades and other celebrations. It has also been the rallying point for political demonstrations, including events during the May Fourth Movement in 1919 and during May–June 1989.
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The Tian'anmen literally the "Gate of Heavenly Peace", is a famous monument in Beijing, the capital of People's Republic of China. It is a widely used national symbol. First built during the Ming Dynasty in 1420, Tian'anmen is often referred to as the front entrance to the Forbidden City. However, the Meridian Gate (午门) is the first entrance to the Forbidden City proper, while Tiananmen was the entrance to the Imperial City, within which the Forbidden City was located. Tian'anmen is located along the northern edge of Tiananmen Square.
The building is 66 meters long, 37 meters wide and 32 meters high. Like other official buildings of the empire, the gate has unique imperial roof decorations.
In front of the gate are two lions standing in front of the gate and two more guarding the bridges. In Chinese culture, lions are believed to protect humans from evil spirits.
Two stone columns, called huabiăo (华表) - each with an animal (hou) on top of it - also stand in front of the gate. Originally, these installations were designed for commoners to address their grievances by writing or sticking up petitions on the columns. However, the examples in front of the Imperial City were purely decorative and instead connoted the majesty of the imperial government.
Because of the gate's position at the front of the Imperial City, and historical events that have taken place on Tian'anmen Square, the gate has great political significance. In the 20th Century this means the gate has frequently been decorated with portraits of objects of veneration. In the early years of the People's Republic, on special occasions the gate was hung with portraits of Sun Yat-sen, Mao Zedong, Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin, with pride of place reserved for Sun Yat-sen.
Since the death of Mao in 1976, the central gate has had a portrait of Mao Zedong towering over it, while the western and eastern walls have had giant placards; the left one reads "Long Live the People's Republic of China" (中华人民共和国万岁), while the right one reads "Long live the Great Unity of the World's Peoples" (世界人民大团结万岁). The right placard used to read "Long Live the Central People's Government" (中央人民政府万岁), and both placards are written in simplified Chinese instead of traditional Chinese characters. The phrasing has significant symbolic meaning, as the phrase used for long live, like the palace itself, was traditionally reserved for Emperors of China, but is now available to the common people.
In front of the stands is the palace moat, still filled with water but now containing decorative illuminated fountains.
In ancient times, the Tian'anmen is the third gate encountered when entering Beijing. After the Qianmen, the Gate of China, stands the Tian'anmen. Proceeding further inward, the next gate is the 'Upright Gate' identical in design to the Tian'anmen; behind it is the southern entrance of the Forbidden City itself, known as the Meridian Gate.
The Tian'anmen is featured on the emblem of the People's Republic of China.