Tian’anmen Square


Tian’anmen(Heavenly Peace Gate) Square has a history of more than 500 years. The square was located in front of the Imperial City during the Ming and Qing dynasties. South of the square lies a spacious piece of land, highlighting the position of Tian’anmen. In the early Ming Dynasty(1368-1644), a gate was built of stones on the present site of Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. It was named Great Ming Gate; under the Qing it was renamed the Great Qing Gate.
It gain received the China Gate after the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. Also the Left chang’an Gate and the Right Chang’an Gate were built of stones on both sides of the east-west Chang’an Avenue. A red wall was constructed linking these three gates, thus forming a small Tian’anmen Square, with only 11 hectares in area.
Tian’anmen Square used to be a forbidden area in ancient times. Ordi-nary people were not allowed to enter it. Even imperial officials had to stop the gate and went on foot. Due to the imperial prohibition and stipulation, residents of Beijing had to bypass the Great Ming gate in the south and Di’anmen(Gate Earthly Peace)in the north if people wanted to go from the east city to west city or vice versa.


During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the principal organs of the Chinese government set up their offices to the east and west of this area . To the east stood Zongrenfu宗人府(an office in charge of the affairs of royal members负责皇室宗族事务的机构),the Boards of Personnel吏部, Revenue户部, Ceremonies(Rites) 礼部, War兵部, Works工部, Protocol鸿胪寺 Meteo-rology and Astronomy钦天监, and Imperial Hospital太医院etc. On the west, under the Ming, were found the Bureau of Embroidered Robes銮仪卫( Luanyiwei) ,which supervised espionage activities as well as the five main military commissions;while in the Qing Dynasty, the Board of Punishments 刑部,the Censorate都察院, the Taichang太常寺(an office responsible for ceremonies and sacrifices) and Court of Judiciary大理寺(ajudicial organ审判机关)were located here. According to the historical records,“The six boards are laid out on the left and the five military commissions on the right六部五府.” In those days, this area must have had an air of other worldliness about it, with its dense crowds of luxuriantly dressed officials and numerous fine sedan chairs(palanquins). In the imperial times, Tian’anmen Square was used to serve the ruling class.
(In the Ming Dynasty, the Five Government Offices and the Six Boards五府六部( which formed the central government in imperial time;i.e.,in order of importance, Board of Personnel吏部, Board of Revenue户部, Board of Rites礼部, Board of War兵部,Board of Punishment刑部, and Board of Work工部; while under the Qing, Board of punishment刑部, Court of censors都察院,and Court of Judiciary大理寺)
The square has witnessed the Chinese people’s struggle against foreign aggression and reactionary rule at home. In 1919, the May Fourth Movement(it was of historic significance) broke out in Beijing, Students and residents staged a patriotic demonstration in the square. In 1935, students in Beijing launched the December Ninth Movement against me Japanese aggression and Chiang Kai-shek’s policy of non-resistance. They held a demonstration in the square.
The space in front of Tian’anmen gate-tower was formerly small. A narrow footpath walled in on either side led from Qianmen to Tian’anmen .In the square you were suddenly confronted by the overawing gate-tower. The whole layout was designed to impress the people with the might of the emperor. When Tian’anmen Square returned to the people in 1949, plans were made to expand the area to correspond to its popular nature, and the entire area has taken on a completely new look. The square is the geographical and emotional centre of the city. On October 1, 1949 the late Chairman Mao Zedong spoke before a crowd of 300,000, proclaimed the formal establishment of the people’s Republic of China, and with his own hands raised for the first time the Chinese national  flag with its red filed and five stars. From that day on, a large portrait of Mao Zedong has hung over the central archway of Tian’ anmen Gate, with large plaques with raised lettering on each side: to the east, the message reads, “Long Live the people’s Republic of China ”and to the west,“Long Live the Unity of the Peoples of the World. ”High above Mao Zedong’s portrait in the eaves of the gate-tower hangs China’s national emblem.
The square used to be a T-shape square.Since the founding of the new China for more than 50 years,after large-scale reconstruction ,the square has been enlarged.The square is 880 metres from east to west,and 500 metres from north to south,encompassing 44 hectares(including flower beds in front of Tian’anment).It can accommodate half a million people. It is the largest aquare in the world and filled with tourists from all parts of China and the world every day .In the middle of the square is the Monument to the People’s Heroes.Directly north is Chang’an Avenue,Beijing’s main thoroughfare.Across the street is Tian’anmen(Heavenly Peace Gate),which is recognizable instantly by the huge portrait of Chairman MaoZeDong hanging on it.Tian’anmen is the gate leading to the Forbidden City.To the west is the Great Hall of the People,which houses the National People’s Congress,but when Congress is not in session,the hall is the venue for concerts and cultural events. Off to the east is the China National Museum. Back to the south is the Chairman Mao memorial Hall,where visitors can wait in line and be quickly ushered past the crystal coffin where Chairman Mao now lies in it.
On April 5, 1976, thousands of people gathered here to commemorate the late premier Zhou Enlai(1898-1976)and oppose the”Gang of Four”referring to Jiang Qing (1914-91), Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan (died 2005), Wang Hongwen(1934-92). Many tourists to tTan’anmen Square would like to have their pictures taken in front of the white marble Golden Water Bridges.
The bridges were named after the Golden Water Stream they span. Seven bridges, each supported by three arches, cross the Outer Golden Water River in front of Tian’anmen, Zhongshan Park, and the Beijing Working people’s Palace of Culture. The five one-arched bridges cross the Inner Golden Water Stream inside the Forbidden City between the Meridian Gate, the Gate of Correct Demeanour端门 and the Gate of Supreme Harmony.
The outer bridges, together with two graceful huabiao(ornamental columns erected in front of palaces, tombs, etc. as a symbol or decoration) and two stone lions nearby, set off Tian’anmen, making it look more imposing. The inner bridges make the spacious square look harmonious.
During the Ming (1368-1644)and Oing(1644-1911) dynasties, the middle one of the seven outer bridges, which is larger than the others was called the Bridge of the Imperial Way御路桥 and was used exclusively by the emperor.
The two bridges on each side were called the Royal bridges王公桥 and were used by the royal family members. The two bridges farther out were the Ranking Bridges品级桥and were used by civil and military officials above the third rank. Those of the fourth rank and below could use only the outer two bridges, which were called the Public Bridges公生桥. Two stone lions guard each of the bridges and two stone carved pillars with cloud and dragon motifs. These entire structures and sculptures form a single unit, a masterpiece of art symbolizing power and beauty.
The Beijing municipal government launched a ninemonth project to renovate Tian’anmen Square in the heart of the capital. The reconstruction, started in October 1998 and was completed by June 1999, in time for the grand celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the people’s Republic of China on October 1, 1999, improved the wornout pavement, public address system,and lighting around the periphery of the world’s largest square, installing new foundations and repairing underground pipelines. The bricks on the square were replaced with 340,000 pink granite slabs to cover 156,900 square metres (the gradient of the square is 3 per thousand easy for flow of rainwater and each slab is 99.5 centimetres by 49.5 centimetres by 15 centi-metres) and shipped in from nearby Hebei Province(they are said to be wear and tear proof and have a more beautiful finish), the publicaddress system modernized, the lowwattage street lights replaced with more efficient ones,and more decorative lights installed to illuminate the buildings around the square. All these slabs weighed 130,000 tons, with 50,000 cubic metres. Fifty eight spot checks were made during the construction of the whole project. The goal was to create a 21st-century style. square, which reflects China’s modernity, new capital. The first renovation of Tian’anmen Square took place in 1959. The square was constantly jammed with out-of-towners as well as local residents.
The eastern and western tain’anmen Square subway stations were built The tian’anmen section, part of the Fuxingmen(Gate of Rejuvenation) and Bawangfen subway project, was built to help ease excess traffic in the downtown area of the national capital. The western station has two levels, one with three entrances and exits. The-three-floor eastern station has seven entrances and exits.