My dear travelers and fans of unusual trips, welcome to the new series of long-awaited travelogues from China on the Mr.M blog. The month of May will be dedicated to one of the cradles of human civilization and a country with thousands of years of written history – China. At the very beginning of today’s travelogue, I would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism of the People’s Republic of China – Visit China and the leading Turkish airline Turkish Airlines for the kind invitation and hospitality. With their help, the travelogues and fashion stories that you will have the opportunity to read this May were created and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy them.
If by any chance you missed reading the previous travelogues or want to remind yourself of some interesting things, take the opportunity to visit the following links:
- Letters from China: Explore the Peal of the Far East with Turkish Airlines
- Letters from China: The Peninsula Beijing, explore the first luxury hotel in the heart of Beijing
Today we will explore together the landmark that forms the heart of the Chinese capital and where numerous historical events took place that changed the history of this unusual Far East country in the heart of East Asia.
Tiananmen Square or Tian’anmen Square is a city square in the center of the city, named after the eponymous Tiananmen (“Gate of Heavenly Peace”), which is located in the north of this square and separates the square from the Forbidden City. The square houses 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 on the square on October 1, 1949, where the anniversary of this event is traditionally celebrated to this day. Tiananmen Square is the largest square in the world because with its area of over 200,000 square meters, it is bigger than Red Square in Moscow.
Tiananmen (“Gate of Heavenly Peace”) is a gate in the wall of the Imperial City, built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty. In the 17th century, fighting between Li Zicheng’s rebel forces and the Manchu-led forces of the Qing Dynasty caused extensive damage or even destroyed the gate. Tiananmen Square was designed and built in 1651, and was enlarged four times in the mid-20th century. The gate historically known as the “Great Ming Gate”, the southern gate of the Imperial City is located near the center of the square. During the Qing Dynasty, it was renamed the “Great Gate of the Qing”, and during the Republican era, it was renamed the “Gate of China”. Unlike other gates in Beijing, such as Tiananmen and Zhengyang Gate, this was a purely ceremonial gate, with three arches but no ramparts, similar in style to ceremonial gates found in Ming tombs.
This gate had a special status as the “Gate of the Nation”, which is evident from its successive names. It usually remained closed, except when the emperor was passing by. Traffic was diverted to the side gates at the west and east ends of the square. Because of this traffic diversion, a busy market, called “Chess Grid Streets” was developed in the large walled square south of this gate.
Iconic image of Tiananmen Square from the May Fourth Movement 1919 In 1860, during the Second Opium War, when British and French troops occupied Beijing, they set up camp near the gate and briefly considered burning down the gate and the Forbidden City. In the end, they decided to spare the Forbidden City and set fire to the Old Summer Palace instead. The Xianfeng Emperor eventually agreed to let Western powers barrack – and later establish diplomatic missions – in the area, so there was an embassy quarter immediately east of the square. When forces of the Eight-Nation Alliance besieged Beijing during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, they badly damaged office complexes and burned down several ministries. After the Boxer Rebellion ended, the area became a staging area for the Eight Nations Alliance to assemble their military forces.
In 1954, the gate of China was demolished, which made it possible to expand the square. In November 1958, a major expansion of Tiananmen Square began, which was completed after only 11 months, in August 1959. This followed Mao Zedong’s vision to make the square the largest and most spectacular in the world, with the intention of accommodating over 500,000 people. In that process, a large number of residential buildings and other buildings were demolished. A monument to national heroes was erected on its southern edge.
At the same time, as part of the Ten Great Buildings built between 1958 and 1959 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, the Great Hall of the People and the Revolutionary History Museum (now the National Museum of China) were erected on the west and east sides of the square.
During the first decade of the People’s Republic of China, every National Day (October 1) was marked by a large military parade in Tiananmen Square, in conscious imitation of the annual Soviet celebrations of the Bolshevik Revolution. After the disaster of the Great Leap Forward, the CCP decided to cut costs and have only smaller annual National Day celebrations in addition to a big celebration with a military parade every 10 years.
However, the chaos of the Cultural Revolution almost prevented such an event from being held on National Day in 1969, which it did (parades were held in 1966 and 1970). Ten years later, in 1979, the CCP again decided against the grand celebration, which came at a time when Deng Xiaoping was still consolidating power and China had suffered a setback in a border war with Vietnam earlier in the year.
By 1984, when the situation had significantly improved and stabilized, the PRC held a military parade for the first time since 1959. After the Tiananmen Square massacre, any such activities were prevented in October 1989, but military parades were held in 1999 and 2009 to mark the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. On May 8, 2015, a military parade was held to celebrate 70 years since the end of World War II.
Who is Mao Zedong? Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the founder of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which he led as the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from the establishment of the PRC in 1949 until his death in 1976. Ideologically a Marxist-Leninist, his theories, military strategies and political policies are collectively known as Maoism.
On October 1, 1949, Mr. Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China from the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen), and later that week he declared, “The Chinese people have risen up.” Mao went to Moscow for long talks in the winter of 1949-50. Mao initiated talks that focused on China’s political and economic revolution, foreign policy, railroads, naval bases, and Soviet economic and technical assistance.
In the 1970s, more precisely in 1971, large portraits of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong were placed on the square, painted by the artist Ge Xiaoguang, who is also responsible for creating the famous Mao portrait that is located at the Gate of Heavenly Peace. In 1980, with the degradation of political ideology after Mao’s death, the portraits were taken down and have since been published only on Labor Day (May 1) and National Day. Later, in 1988, the CCP leadership decided to display only portraits of Sun and Mao on national holidays. A year after Mao’s death, a mausoleum was built near the site of the former Chinese Gate along the main axis of the north-south square. In connection with this project, the square was further enlarged to become completely rectangular and able to accommodate 600,000 people. The urban context of the square was changed in the 1990s by the construction of the Great National Theater in its vicinity and the expansion of the National Museum.
Tiananmen Square, used as a place for mass gatherings since its inception, its flatness contrasts with the 38-meter-tall “Monument to the People’s Heroes” and the “Mao Zedong Mausoleum.” The square is located in between. two ancient, massive gates: Tiananmen in the north and Zhengyangmen (better known as Qianmen) in the south. Along the western side of the square is the Great House of the People. On the east side is the National Museum of China (dedicated to Chinese history before 1919). Installed in 1989, the Statue of Liberty, a Western icon, holds its torch above the square. Chang’an Avenue, used for parades, is located between Tian’anmen and the square. Trees line the eastern and western edges of the square, but the square itself is open, without trees or benches. The square is illuminated by large lampposts equipped with video cameras. Uniformed and plainclothes policemen can always be found on the square.
When you pass through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, you enter the imperial palace complex, which is called the Forbidden City by one name. It is surrounded by a number of lavish imperial gardens and temples, including Zhongshan Park, the Imperial Ancestral Sacrifice Temple, Beihai Park and Jingshan Park. This complex is officially managed by the Palace Museum. The Forbidden City was built between 1406 and 1420 and was the former Chinese Imperial Palace and the winter residence of the Emperor of China from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty, between 1420 and 1924. The city served as the home of Chinese emperors and their households and was the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government for more than 500 years. Since 1925, the Forbidden City has been under the supervision of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artworks and artifacts was built on the basis of the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Forbidden City was declared a world heritage site in 1987.
The complex consists of 980 buildings, which include 9,999 rooms and cover an area of 720,000 square meters. The palace exemplifies the opulence of Chinese imperial residences and traditional Chinese court architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural development in East Asia and the region. The Forbidden City is included in the UNESCO list as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. Since 2012, the Forbidden City has seen an average of 14 million visitors a year, and according to some official figures, more than 19 million visitors in 2019 before the pandemic.
During 2018, an interesting research was done and the market value of the Forbidden City was determined, where it was estimated at 70 billion US dollars, which makes it both the most valuable palace in the world and the most valuable real estate in the world. The Forbidden City in Beijing is one of the largest and best-preserved wooden buildings in the world. It was listed as the first group of national key cultural relics in 1961.
The Forbidden City is in the shape of a rectangle, with approximate dimensions of 961 meters from north to south and 753 meters from east to west. It consists of 980 preserved buildings with 8,886 rooms. The layout of the Forbidden City activated and protected the Imperial Code of Ethics as a physical installation. The courtyard is built on a massive, luxurious scale, but has the appearance of an ordinary quadrangular courtyard. A common myth states that there are 9999 rooms including the anteroom, based on oral tradition and not supported by research evidence. The Forbidden City was designed to be the center of the ancient walled city of Beijing. It is enclosed in a larger, walled area called the Imperial City. The Imperial City, in turn, is surrounded by the Inner City; south of it lies the Outer City.
In the following travelogues, you will get to know some of the famous sights such as the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall of China… I am sure that this will be one of the most interesting adventures that you have had the opportunity to see so far on the Mr.M blog and will not leave you indifferent. .
My dear adventurers, we have come to the end of this third special travelogue in the series of travelogues about distant China where we had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this unusual country in the heart of East Asia. Today’s travelogue would not be possible without the selfless help of the Ministry of Tourism of the People’s Republic of China – Visit China, the world airline company Turkish Airlines and The Peninsula Beijing Hotel in collaboration with local partners who allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of ancient Chinese culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey to you my impressions about this unusual experience from China with Turkish Airlines.
A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.
I am honored to have the opportunity to cooperate with companies that are the very top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank Turkish Airlines once again for this amazing adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual Far Eastern culture in a completely different way.
How did you like my story about China and the presentation of the Tiananmen Square, which adorns the heart of this unusual capital of this interesting country in East Asia? Have you had a chance to visit China so far?
If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!
In the following stories from China, we will discover some other interesting sights that you should visit if your journey leads you to this capital of this ancient faraway country!
With Love from Beijing,
This post is sponsored by world airline Turkish Airlines, Visit China and The Peninsula Beijing Hotel as well as other local partners. This post is my personal and honest review of the destination experience.