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Tiananmen Square 天安门广场

Tian'anmen Square (天安门广场 Tian'an men guang chang) occupies an area of 49 hectares (122 acres), big enough to hold half a million people. It was named after the Tiananmen (literally, Gate of Heavenly Peace) which stands on its north side, separating it from the Forbidden City. As the site of several key events in Chinese history, it has iconic significance as a cultural symbol.

Used as a mass gathering place since its inception, the level surface is broken only by the 38-meter high Monument to the People's Heroes completed in 1958, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong completed in 1977. The square lies between two ancient, massive gates: the Tian'anmen to the north and the Zhengyangmen, better known as Qianmen, to the south. Along the west side of the Square is the Great Hall of the People. Along the east side is the National Museum of China (currently under renovation). Chang'an Avenue, which is used for parades, lies between the Tian'anmen and the Square. Trees line its eastern and western borders, but the square itself is open, with neither trees nor benches.

Around the Square are several famous buildings:

1 The Great Hall of the People 人民大会堂

This is one of the largest congressional buildings in the world. Built in 1959, the hall consists of three parts: a 10,000-seat auditorium in the center, a banquet hall in the north wing facing Chang'an Street, with a seating capacity of 5,000, and offices for the Standing Committee of the National Peoples' Congress of China in the south. In addition, thirty-four reception chambers are named after various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly unde the Central Government, plus Hong Kong and Macao. Each is different from the other in decoration and furnishings to stress their local features.

2 The Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution 中国国家博物馆

These two museums were also built in 1959. the museum of Chinese History houses a permanent exhibition in four parts, covering the entire process of Chinese history spanning from 1.7 million years ago to 1919:

1) The Primitive Society( 1.7 million years ago to the 21st century BC);

2) The Slave Society(21st century BC to 476 BC.);

3) The Feudal Society(475 BC. To 1840 AD.);

4) The Semi-Colonial and Semi- Fedual Society(1840 to 1919.)

The Museum of the Chinese Revolution covers the period from 1919 to 1949.

3 The Monument to the People's Heroes 人民英雄纪念碑

The monument was built in memory of thousands of martyrs who died for the revolutionary cause of the Chinese people. Its construction began on August 1, 1952 and was not completed until 1958. in the form of an obelisk, the Monument as made of more than 17,000 pieces of tranite and white marble. The purple piece inlaid in the front of the Monument was brought from Qingdao, Shandong Province. It is 38 meters(124ft 8 in) high, the loftiest of its kind ever seen in the country. Not only is it an historic memorial for immortal heroes, but also it is an artistic work of excellent architectural value.

On the front side of the Monument is an engraved inscription in Chinese characters written by Chairman Mao Zedong, which reads "Eternal Glory to the People's Heroes!". On the back of the Monument is an article written by Chairman Mao, but in Chinese calligraphy by the late Premier Zhou Enlai.

At the top of the Monument are eight gigantic carved wreathes of such flowers as peony, lotus and chrysanthemum, symbolizing nobility, purity, and fortitude. At the base of the monument are eight marble reliefs depicting the Chinese historic events since 1840.

4 Chairman Mao's Mausoleum 毛主席纪念堂

Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Pepublic of China, passed away on Sepember 9, 1976. In commemoration of this great man, a mausoleum began to be constructed in November 1976, and was completes in August the following year. The Mausoleum was officially opened on September 9, 1977.

The mausoleum is surrounded by four groups of sculpture. East of the northern entrance is the sculpture depicting the period of the New Democratic Revolution( 1919-1949), and west of it is the one signifying the great achievements of the Chinese people during the period of slcialist revolution and construction since 1949. The sculptures in front of the southern gate are figures of workers, peasants soldiers, intellectuals, technicians and children.

Inside the Mausoleum are three main sections: A white marble statue of Chairman Mao is mounted on a platform in the front lobby. On the wall behind the statue is a 24-metre-long( 79-foot-long) tapestry, a fine needlepoint work with beautiful landscapes of the country.

In the main hall there is a crystal coffin, in which Chairman Mao's body lies stately with the Communist Party's flag covering over him.

On the wall of the southern lobby, a poem by Chairman Mao and in his own calligraphy is inscribed in gold inlay. It expresses his full great expectations for the country.

Travel info:

Entry Ticket: Free
Transportation: Subway: Line 1- Arrive at Tian'anmen East or Tian'anmen West; Line 2- Arrive at Qianmen
Bus: No. 1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, 17, 20, 22, 44, 59, 110, 120, 特1, 特2, 特3, 特4 May 15, 2008

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