Last updated
Tian'anmen, in a panorama photograph (2009). Tiananmen beijing Panorama.jpg
Tian'anmen, in a panorama photograph (2009).
Tiananmen (Chinese characters).svg
"Tiān'ānmén" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) characters
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese 天安门
Traditional Chinese 天安門
Hanyu Pinyin Tiān'ānmén
Literal meaning"Gate of Heavenly Peace"
Manchu name
Manchu script ᠠᠪᡴᠠᡳ
Möllendorff abkai elhe obure duka
(video) Two shots of the gate followed by a shot of inside Tiananmen Square next to the gate, 2017.

The Tiananmen (also Tian'anmen, Tienanmen, T’ien-an Men) ( [tʰjɛ́n.án.mə̌n] ), or the The Gate of Heavenly Peace, is a monumental gate in the city center of Beijing, China, the front gate of the Imperial City of Beijing, located near the city's Central Business District, and widely used as a national symbol. First built during the Ming dynasty in 1420, Tiananmen was the entrance to the Imperial City, within which the Forbidden City was located. Tiananmen is located to the north of Tiananmen Square, and is separated from the plaza by Chang'an Avenue.



The Chinese name of the gate (天安门/天安門), is made up of the Chinese characters for "heaven", "peace" and "gate" respectively, which is why the name is conventionally translated as "Gate of Heavenly Peace". However, this translation is somewhat misleading, since the Chinese name is derived from the much longer phrase "receiving the mandate from heaven, and pacifying the dynasty". (受命于天,安邦治國). [1] The Manchu translation, Abkai elhe obure duka, lies closer to the original meaning of the gate and can be literally translated as the "Gate of Heavenly Peacemaking". [2] The gate had a counterpart in the northern end of the imperial city called the Di'anmen (地安門, Dì'ānmén; Manchu: Na i elhe obure duka), which may be roughly translated as the "Gate of Earthly Peace".



The gate was originally named "Chengtianmen" (traditional Chinese :承天門; simplified Chinese :承天门; pinyin :Chéngtiānmén), or "Gate of Accepting Heavenly Mandate" in the Ming Dynasty. It has subsequently been destroyed and rebuilt several times. The original building was first constructed in 1420, and was based on an eponymous gate of an imperial building in Nanking. The gate was completely burned down by lightning in July 1457. In 1465, the Chenghua Emperor ordered Zigui (自圭), the Minister of Works, to rebuild the gate. Thus, the design was changed from the original paifang form to the gatehouse that is seen today. It suffered another blow in the war at the end of the Ming dynasty, when in 1644 the gate was burnt down by rebels led by Li Zicheng. Following the establishment of the Qing dynasty and the Manchu conquest of China proper, the gate was once again rebuilt, beginning in 1645, and was given its present name upon completion in 1651. The gate was reconstructed again between 1969 and 1970. The gate as it stood was by then 300 years old, and had badly deteriorated, partly due to heavy usage in the 1950s and 1960s. As the gate was a national symbol, Zhou Enlai ordered that the rebuilding was to be kept secret. The whole gate was covered in scaffolding, and the project was officially called a "renovation". The rebuilding aimed to leave the gate's external appearance unchanged while both making it more resistant to earthquakes and installing modern facilities such as an elevator, water supply, and heating system. [3]


Stone column (huabiao) with depiction of dragons and phoenixes decorates the surroundings of the Tiananmen gate. Tiananmenpic2.jpg
Stone column ( huabiao ) with depiction of dragons and phoenixes decorates the surroundings of the Tiananmen gate.

The building is 66 meters (217 ft) long, 37 meters (121 ft) wide and 32 meters (105 ft) high. Like other official buildings of the empire, the gate itself has unique imperial roof decorations.

Two lions stand in front of the gate, and two more guard the bridges. In Chinese culture, lions are believed to protect humans from evil spirits.

Two stone columns, called huabiao, each with an animal (hou) on top of it, also stand in front of the gate. Originally, these installations were designed for commoners to address their grievances by either writing or sticking petitions on the columns. However, the examples in front of the Imperial City were purely decorative, and instead connoted the majesty of the imperial government.

The western and eastern walls have giant placards; the left one reads "Long Live the People's Republic of China" ( 中华 人民 共和国 万岁 ; Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó wànsuì), while the right one reads "Long Live the Great Unity of the World's Peoples". The right placard used to read "Long Live the Central People's Government" [4] ( 中央 人民 政府 万岁 ; Zhōngyāng Rénmín Zhèngfǔ wànsuì) for the founding ceremony of the PRC, but after the ceremony it was changed to "Long Live the Great Unity of the World's Peoples" ( 世界 人民 团结 万岁 ; Shìjiè rénmín dà tuánjié wànsuì). Both placards were changed to use simplified Chinese instead of traditional Chinese characters in 1964. The phrasing has significant symbolic meaning, as the phrase used for long live, like the Imperial City itself, was traditionally reserved for Emperors of China, but is now available to the common people.

The reviewing stands in the foreground are used on International Workers Day (May Day) and on the National Day (October 1) of the People's Republic of China.

In front of the stands is the Imperial City's moat, still filled with water but now containing decorative illuminated fountains.

In ancient times, the Tiananmen was among the most important gates encountered when entering Beijing's Imperial City along with the Yongdingmen, Qianmen, the Gate of China. Proceeding further inward, the next gate is the 'Upright Gate', identical in design to the Tian'anmen; behind it is the southern entrance of the Forbidden City itself, known as the Meridian Gate.



Portrait of Chiang Kai-shek on Tiananmen in Beijing, Republic of China Chiang KaiShek Portrait Tiananmen Beijing.jpg
Portrait of Chiang Kai-shek on Tiananmen in Beijing, Republic of China
Portrait of Joseph Stalin put up after his death, 1953 Tian An Men Shi Da Lin Xiao Xiang .jpg
Portrait of Joseph Stalin put up after his death, 1953
Portrait of Mao Zedong at the Tiananmen gate made by Ge Xiaoguang Portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong 2018-2019.png
Portrait of Mao Zedong at the Tiananmen gate made by Ge Xiaoguang

Because of the gate's position at the front of the Imperial City, and the historical events that have taken place on Tiananmen Square, the gate has great political significance. In 1925, when China was ruled by the Nationalist government, a large portrait of Sun Yat-sen was hung at the gate after his death. In 1945, to celebrate the victory over Japan, Chiang Kai-shek's portrait was hung. [5]

On July 7, 1949, portraits of Zhu De and Mao Zedong were hung to commemorate the Second Sino-Japanese War. [6] Since the founding date of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949, a singular portrait of Mao has been hung on the gate. The portrait is replaced annually before National Day. On only one occasion, on March 9, 1953, it was temporarily replaced by a portrait of Joseph Stalin to commemorate his death. [6]

In 2011, Alexander Pann Han-tang, chairman of the Asia Pacific Taiwan Federation of Industry and Commerce, and a close friend of Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou, proposed that the picture of Sun Yat-sen be displayed at Tiananmen Square instead for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China. [7] However, this proposal was rejected. [7]


The portrait weighs 1.5 metric tons (2 short tons), and is replaced by a spare whenever it is vandalized. [8] In 1989, three dissidents, including Yu Dongyue, attacked the portrait with eggs during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Yu was sent to prison, and was not released until 17 years later in 2006. On May 12, 2007, the portrait of Mao caught fire. A 35-year-old unemployed man from Urumqi was arrested for the incident. About 15% of the portrait was damaged, and had to be repaired later. [9] On April 5, 2010, a protester threw ink in a plastic bottle and hit a wall near the portrait. He was then arrested.[ citation needed ]

National symbol

Due to its historical significance, Tiananmen is featured on the National Emblem of the People's Republic of China. It has also been featured in the designs of stamps and coins issued by the People's Republic of China.

Public access

Route 1 bus passing Tiananmen 4730682 at Tian'anmen (20200825112812).jpg
Route 1 bus passing Tiananmen

Tiananmen is open to the public each day of the week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. [10]

Line 1 of the Beijing Subway has stops at Tiananmen West and Tiananmen East, on each side of Tiananmen.

City buses 1, 2, 5, 52, 82, 120, 观光1, 观光2, 1, 2, and 17 stop near Tiananmen.

See also

Related Research Articles

Forbidden City Art museum, Imperial Palace, Historic site in Beijing, China

The Forbidden City is a palace complex in Dongcheng District, Beijing, China, at the center of the Imperial City of Beijing. It is surrounded by numerous opulent imperial gardens and temples including the 54-acre Zhongshan Park, the sacrificial Imperial Ancestral Temple, the 171-acre Beihai Park and the 57-acre Jingshan Park.

In various East Asian languages, the phrase "ten thousand years" is used to wish long life, and is typically translated as "Long live" in English. The phrase originated in ancient China as an expression used to wish long life to the emperor. Due to the political and cultural influence of China in the area, and in particular of the Chinese language, cognates with similar meanings and usage patterns have appeared in many East Asian languages. In some countries, this phrase is mundanely used when expressing feeling of triumph, typically shouted by crowds.

Gate of Supreme Harmony

The Gate of Supreme Harmony is the second major gate in the south of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China.

Changan Avenue

Chang'an Avenue, literally "Eternal Peace Street", is a major thoroughfare in Beijing, China.

Zhongzhou Road

Zhongzhou Road, literally meaning Central Axis, refers to a stretch of road in Beijing, China.

I Love Beijing Tiananmen

"I Love Beijing Tiananmen", formerly translated as "I love Peking Tiananmen", is a children's song written during the Cultural Revolution era of China.

Beijing city fortifications

The Beijing city fortifications were constructed from the early 1400s to the year 1553. The inner city's wall was 24 kilometres (15 mi) long and 15 metres (49 ft) high, with a thickness of 20 metres (66 ft) at ground level and 12 metres (39 ft) at the top, and had nine gates. The wall stood for nearly 530 years, but in 1965, it was removed to allow for construction of the 2nd Ring Road and Line 2 of the Beijing Subway. Only one part of the original wall still exists, just south of the Beijing railway station in the southeast portion of the city. The Outer city walls had a perimeter of approximately 28 kilometres (17 mi). The entire enclosure of the Inner and Outer cities formed a "凸" shape with a perimeter of nearly 60 kilometres (37 mi).


Qianmen is the colloquial name for Zhengyangmen, a gate in Beijing's historic city wall. The gate is situated to the south of Tiananmen Square and once guarded the southern entry into the Inner City. Although much of Beijing's city walls were demolished, Zhengyangmen remains an important geographical marker of the city. The city's central north-south axis passes through Zhengyangmen's main gate. It was formerly named Lizhengmen, meaning "beautiful portal".

Gate of China, Beijing

The Gate of China was a historical ceremonial gateway in Beijing, China, located near the center of latter-day Tiananmen Square. It was demolished in 1954. This gate formed the southern gate of the Imperial City during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was situated on the central axis of Beijing, to the north of Zhengyang Gate, and south of Tiananmen. Unlike these two defensive gates, the Gate of China was a purely ceremonial gateway, with no ramparts, but was a brick-stone structure with three gateways.

Imperial City, Beijing

The Imperial City is a section of the city of Beijing in the Ming and Qing dynasties, with the Forbidden City at its center. It refers to the collection of gardens, shrines, and other service areas between the Forbidden City and the Inner City of ancient Beijing. The Imperial City was surrounded by a wall and accessed through seven gates and it includes historical places such as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen, Zhongnanhai, Beihai Park, Zhongshan Park, Jingshan, Imperial Ancestral Temple, and Xiancantan.

Tiananmen Xi (W) station Beijing Subway station

Tian'anmen Xi (W) Station is a station on Line 1 of the Beijing Subway. It is located near Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the National Centre for the Performing Arts.

Tiananmen Dong (E) station Beijing Subway station

Tian'anmen Dong (E) Station is a station on Line 1 of the Beijing Subway. It provides the most direct access to many Beijing tourist sites, including Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the National Museum of China.

Tiananmen Square public square in Beijing, China

Tiananmen Square or Tian'anmen Square is a city square in the city center of Beijing, China, located near the city's Central Business District and named after the eponymous Tiananmen located to its north, which separates it from the Forbidden City. The square contains the Monument to the People's Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China in the square on October 1, 1949; the anniversary of this event is still observed there. Tiananmen Square size is 765 x 282 meters. It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history.


Di'anmen or Bei'anmen was an imperial gate in Beijing, China. The gate was first built in the Yongle period of the Ming dynasty, and served as the main northern gate to the Imperial City. The gate is located north of Jingshan Park and south of the Drum Tower. The gate was demolished in 1954. Efforts to restore it have been under way since 2013.


Guang'anmen or the Gate of Expansive Peace, also known as Guangningmen and Zhangyimen, was a city gate of old Beijing, constructed during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor (1521–1567) of the Ming Dynasty. This gate was part of Beijing's city wall, situated south-west of the city center and facing east. Guang'anmen served as a main entrance to Beijing.

Du Bin

Du Bin is a Chinese journalist, photographer, poet and documentary film-maker. Self-taught in photography, Du has worked as a contract photographer for The New York Times since 2011, and has also been published in the International Herald Tribune, Time, and the Guardian. He is originally from Tancheng, Shandong, China, and is based in Beijing. Du was detained by Beijing authorities in June 2013 after releasing a feature-length documentary about the Masanjia Labor Camp.

Chen Mingyuan is a Chinese scholar who works in various disciplines such as linguistics, mathematics, informatics, computer sciences, and modern poetry. On April 23, 1989, Chen gave a speech at Peking University, expressing his support for the student movements and criticisms of the government. This speech was considered a trigger for the later escalation of the student movement in 1989.

Wang Guodong was a Chinese painter, known for his giant portraits of Mao Zedong hung on the Tiananmen in Beijing, which are among the world's most recognizable images.

Peoples Armed Police Honour Guard Battalion

The People's Armed Police Honour Guard Battalion, also known as the PAP Honor Guard is the main honor guard and police unit of the People's Armed Police of China, the country's Gendarmerie police force.


  1. Lu Bingjie, Tian'anmen (Jinan: Shandong huabao chubanshe, 2004) p. 40.
  2. Cf. Erich Hauer. "Why the Sinologue Should Study Manchu." Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 61 (1930): 156-64.
  3. Xinhua News Agency, Secret reconstruction of Tiananmen 35 years ago, 04/21/05
  4. Meng Zhaorui, 親歷震撼時刻——老記者鏡頭下的紅色中國 , p. 133
  5. NYtimes. "NYtimes.com." Chameleon Mao, the face of Tiananmen square. Retrieved on 2011-04-11.
  6. 1 2 中國評論新聞:20世紀以來 天安門掛過哪些人的畫像?. Chinareviewnews.com. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
  7. 1 2 "Call for reassessment of Sun Yat-sen from 'pioneer' to 'father of the nation'". South China Morning Post. 2011-03-29. Retrieved 2020-05-28.
  8. Foster, Peter. Chinese protestor throws ink at portrait of Chairman Mao. The Daily Telegraph . 8 April 2010.
  9. 2007年05月13日 - 中國‧天安門廣場城樓遭縱火 毛澤東畫像部份燒焦 - 國際 - 星洲日報. Sinchew.com.my. 2007-05-13. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
  10. (Chinese) "参观天安门城楼时刻表及门票价格和乘车路线" Accessed 2012-02-06

Coordinates: 39°54′26.4″N116°23′27.9″E / 39.907333°N 116.391083°E / 39.907333; 116.391083