Tiananmen Square lies at the cross-section between the central axis of Beijing. It’s the largest square in the world, encompassing an area of 14 hectares, and measuring 865 meters north to south, and 500 and 370 meters east to west on the northern and southern ends respectively. Tiananmen was the place for important ceremonies during the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty, when imperial edicts were issued for coronation of emperors or the conferring of the title of empress. Tiananmen has witnessed many important events in China’s modern history.
The Tiananmen Gate was first built in 1417 in the Ming Dynasty. During the demise of the Ming Dynasty, heavy fighting between Li Zicheng and the early Qing emperors damaged (or perhaps destroyed) the gate. The Tian’anmen square was originally designed and built in Beijing in 1651. It was enlarged to its present size (four times its original size) and cemented over in 1958. Now the square, at 880 meters long and 500 meters wide, measuring 440,000 square meters. To its east is the National Museum. It combines two previous museums: the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the Museum of Chinese History, built in the 1950s. Important relics displayed here include ancient artifacts, as well as more contemporary pieces.; to its west, the Great Hall of the People. It was built in 1977, soon after the great leader passed away. Every day thousands of people line up to pay their respect to the embalmed body of Chairman Mao and reflect on the legacy he left behind. In the middle of it stands the Monument to People’s Heroes, to the south of which is Chairman Mao’s Memorial Hall.
The Five-Star Red Flag flutters high above the mid-point of the square’s north side. Everyday, at dawn and dusk, the Guards march in unison to the foot of the flagstaff to hoist or lower the National Flag, saluted with eyes by the on-lookers. During national holidays, it’s usually festooned with banners and floral decorations. Many people visit at dawn or dusk to see elite People’s Liberation Army troops conduct flag raising or lowering ceremonies. Now, in this new age of reform and opening, the age-old Tiananmen, as a witness of the past and present of China’s civilization, with its unrivaled political significance, attracts tourists from all over the world.