Results 1-10of 14 Reviews
Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
June 2, 2010
From journal January in Beijing
October 17, 2009
From journal A Beijing Winter with Scorpions and Crickets on my Breath
Los Angeles, California
August 22, 2008
From journal My Cultural Revolution
Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
February 29, 2008
From journal Big Capital, Small Pleasures
November 16, 2007
From journal Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square: The Bleeding Heart of China
New Delhi, India
September 8, 2007
Despite a resolve to not go to Tiananmen, we ended up visiting this vast central square – simply because it’s the heart of Beijing. In a city swamped by symbols of private enterprise, the forbidding expanse of Tiananmen Square, hemmed in by blocky Maoist monuments, is a very visible emblem of Communist rule. But private enterprise, from kite sellers and hawkers to McDonald’s, is alive and kicking all along the fringes of the square. Tourist buses bound for Badaling begin from the corner of Tiananmen, and crowds visiting the Forbidden City approach through the Tiananmen Gate. So we went to Tiananmen too, and walked from one end to the other.
The facts about it are pretty basic. One of the world’s largest city squares, Tiananmen spreads across 440,000 square metres and was laid out in 1417, during the Ming period. It was renovated in 1699, when it acquired its present form.
We began at the south end of Tiananmen. This end’s dominated by two gates of grey stone, decorated with glazed tile eaves and paintwork. The Qianmen Gate and the Zhengyanmen Gate are imposing, and even in the blazing afternoon sun, two soldiers stood ramrod straight and unblinking in the middle of the broad stretch that separates Zhengyanmen from the Mao Memorial. The only time I saw them relax was when a peon with a squat aluminium kettle brought them some tea.
The Mao Memorial, the leader’s mausoleum, occupies a large portion of Tiananmen. After Mao’s death in 1976, his body was embalmed and placed in a subzero vault at the mausoleum. The body’s mechanically raised for public viewing every morning. When we visited, the Memorial was closed for renovations, so we spent some time looking at the group statues outside – depicting the Long March – and then moved on.
North of the Memorial stands a square-sided stone pillar, the Monument to the People’s Heroes. Chinese characters in dull brass march down one side, and lotuses bloom in flowerpots round the base. In the backdrop, stretching from north to south down either side of Tiananmen Square, are staunchly Communist buildings: the Great Hall of the People on the left, and on the right, the National Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution. Both museums were closed for renovation, so, somewhat disappointed, we walked on to the northern end of Tiananmen Square. The red gate here – a familiar sight in photographs of Beijing and the Forbidden City – is the Tiananmen Gate. Large Chinese characters are emblazoned across the facade, and the centre holds a picture of Mao. A long way beyond lies the Forbidden City.
Final analysis? Not beautiful; somewhat unsettling; but worth a visit, if only for its history.
From journal Beijing: The Usual Suspects
New York, New York
March 11, 2006
From journal Three Days in China
January 26, 2005
From journal Beijing Bowling Classic
July 28, 2004
Five doors and seven gates lead to the square which can accommodate a million people and is the largest public square in the world at 99 acres. It is surrounded by many of China’s finer monuments such as the Monument to the Heroes as well as government buildings where guards stand at attention moving only their heads from side to side to watch around. It is located just across the street from the entrance to the Forbidden City.
Sights to see include Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum. Apparently whether the was model or the real corpse is on display isn’t known. Not being familiar with the preservation process, the corpse was initially overfilled with formaldehyde and then drained to put the corpse into an acceptable condition. Fortunately prior to preserving the corpse a wax model had been created. Hence, what is actually on display isn’t a given. Although admission is not charged to the museum, all bags must be checked at a cost Y1 per bag. The line for this is incredibly long, but goes relatively fast. There are many locals that pay tribute to Mao this way.
Also popular at the square is the flag-raising ceremony with the PLA soldiers marching at exactly 108 paces per minute. The nighttime scene of this event is even more spectacular if you can find a viewing spot.
More than anything I could not get over the massive open area here and realizing that at one time all these people flying kites and meandering around were replaced by tanks mowing down protesters.
From journal Beijing Now! Before The Olympics
April 3, 2004
From journal Night Train to Beijing