Being the site of several significant historical and political events throughout modern Chinese history, the subdued air about this famous square is palpable. The square is probably best known for being at the heart of the student protests of 1989 which resulted in the death of hundreds of protestors.
The square is named after the Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) to the north of the square bordering the Forbidden City. Originally built in 1651, the square grew four times its original size in the 50’s. After Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, it was further enlarged to its present size.
Shortly after Mao’s death, the Mao Zedong Mausoleum was constructed. Commonly known as the ‘Maosoleum’, it is an enormous building constructed solely to pay homage to the dictator’s body. The sarcophagus which is on public display holds Mao’s body which you can catch a glimpse off if you have the patience to wait in line. Thousands of Chinese tourists come to the square and the mausoleum to pay respect to the former dictator who has gained post-mortem god-like status among his countrymen.
The Tiananmen Gate has become a national symbol as this was where Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949. Just follow the crowds and you’ll inevitably see tourists flocking to the gate and waiting in line to have their photo taken next to the enormous portrait of Mao.