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Tian'anmen in 2020 20200110 Tiananmen-3.jpg
Tian'anmen in 2020


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" [6] ( 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.



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. [7]

On July 7, 1949, portraits of Zhu De and Mao Zedong were hung to commemorate the Second Sino-Japanese War. [8] 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. [8]

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. [9] However, this proposal was rejected. [9]


The portrait weighs 1.5 metric tons (2 short tons), and is replaced by a spare whenever it is vandalized. [10] In 1989, three dissidents, including Yu Dongyue, attacked the portrait with eggs during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre. Yu was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released on bail 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. [11] 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. [12] Tickets must be booked online through the Weixin (Wechat) Mini Program at least one day before, it is not possible to buy tickets on the day or on-site.

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

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  1. "Tiananmen Square". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on May 18, 2021.
  2. "Tian'anmen, not Tiananmen". Pinyin.info. June 2, 2009. Archived from the original on June 5, 2009.
  3. Lu Bingjie, Tian'anmen (Jinan: Shandong huabao chubanshe, 2004) p. 40.
  4. Cf. Erich Hauer. "Why the Sinologue Should Study Manchu." Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 61 (1930): 156-64.
  5. Xinhua News Agency, Secret reconstruction of Tiananmen 35 years ago, 04/21/05
  6. Meng Zhaorui, 親歷震撼時刻——老記者鏡頭下的紅色中國 , p. 133
  7. NYtimes. "NYtimes.com." Chameleon Mao, the face of Tiananmen square. Retrieved on 2011-04-11.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Foster, Peter. Chinese protestor throws ink at portrait of Chairman Mao. The Daily Telegraph . 8 April 2010.
  11. 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. Archived from the original on 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
  12. (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
Tiananmen (Chinese characters).svg
"Tiān'ānmén" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) characters
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39°54′26.4″N116°23′27.9″E / 39.907333°N 116.391083°E / 39.907333; 116.391083