Tiananmen Square in Beijing
Rage Jose Fuste/agefotostock
The world’s seventh-largest public square is best known in the West for the 1989 student protests, but this is also where, on October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China. The square was named for Tiananmen (which translates as “Gate of Heavenly Peace”), one of the gates of the former imperial city. It was built in 1651, then expanded in 1958 to four times its original size, and enlarged even further in 1976 with the construction of Mao’s mausoleum. Arrive at sunrise to watch the solemn flag-raising ceremony, performed with pride, precision, and a touch of flair.
The heart of Beijing
I know it is probably a bit touristy and a bit cliche to visit Tiananmen square, but it is also the heart of the heart of China. I was a child of the 80’s and while I don’t remember much about 1989, I remember images from Tiananmen. It is moving and awe inspiring to stand where so much history has been made. It is something I recomend to everyone plus it is close to just about every major attraction in downtown Beijing.
Girl with parasol
Young girl with parasol in Tienanmen Square.
Keeping your distance
When going to the flag raising in Tiananmen Square be prepared for extra zealous security forces. It pays to keep your distance - don’t worry, you’ll still get good photos - and keep your backback on your chest. They’re not a fan of people walking around with things on their back.