Tiananmen Square

March 13 2014

The Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) to the Forbidden City (last post), on the north side of Tiananmen Square, was built in 1415 under the Ming Dynasty.

Attached to it, to this day, is a large portrait of Mao Zedong, wart and all.

Tiananmen Square was laid out in 1651, under the Qing. At its original southern end (where the Mao Zedong Mausoleum now is) stood the early-fifteenth century Great Ming Gate, renamed Great Qing Gate (“Daqingmen” in the map in yesterday’s post), the old southern ceremonial gate to the Imperial City. Gate of China under the Republic.

A short way south of that and built at the same time was Qianmen Gate (or Front Gate; Ch’ien-men, Wade Giles; also called Cheng-yang-men, Wade Giles, and Zhengyangmen, pinyin) into the Outer City. See last post.

The Square in the early twentieth century viewed from Qianmen Gate; Qing Gate in middle distance; beyond it the Imperial Way leading to Tiananmen Gate in the far distance; flanking the Imperial Way on each side is the “corridor of a thousand steps”:

Peking, Blick vom Chienmen auf die Kaiserstadt

The British and French troops who invaded Beijing in 1860 during the Second Opium War considered burning down the Qing Gate and the Forbidden City. They decided ultimately to spare them and to burn instead the emperor’s Old Summer Palace a few kilometres away.

The Qing emperor was forced to let the foreign powers barrack troops and establish diplomatic missions in the area, resulting in the Legation Quarter to the east of the modern square.

The Legation Quarter was besieged and damaged during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.

In 1954, the Gate of China was demolished, allowing for the enlargement of the square. The Qianmen Gate survives.

Modern square, map at chinatouristmaps.com (please visit):

tiananmen-square-map

Mausoleum of Mao Zedong

Monument to the People’s Heroes

Great Hall of the People

National Museum of China

The square in 1900 (old post).

One Response to “Tiananmen Square”


  1. […] On the history of Peking, its walls, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, see posts here and here. […]


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