天*门 Square is the large plaza near the center of Beijing, China, named after the 天*门 (literally, Gate of Heavenly Peace) which sits to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. It has great cultural significance as a symbol because it was the site of several key events in Chinese history (See below: Events). Outside of China, the square is best known for the 天*门 Square **.
The square is 880 metres south to north and 500 metres east to west, a total area of 440,000 square meters, which makes it the largest open-urban square in the world.
The 天*门 was built in 1417 in the Ming Dynasty. In 1699 (early Qing Dynasty), the 天*门 was renovated and renamed to its present form. During the Ming and Qing eras, there was no public square at 天*门, and instead the area was filled with offices for imperial ministries. These were badly damaged during the Boxer Rebellion and the area was cleared to produce the beginning of 天*门 Square.
Near the centre of today's square, close to the site of the Mao Zedong Mausoleum, once stood one of the most important gates of Beijing. This gate was known as the "Great Ming Gate" (???) during the Ming Dynasty, "Great Qing Gate" (???) during the Qing Dynasty, and "Gate of China" (???) during the Republic of China era. Unlike the other gates in Beijing, such as the 天*门 and the Qianmen, this was a purely ceremonial gateway, with three arches but no ramparts, similar in style to the ceremonial gateways found in the Ming Dynasty Tombs. This gate had a special status as the "Gate of the Nation", as can be seen from its successive names. It normally remained closed, except when the Emperor passed through. Commoner traffic were diverted to two side gates at the western and eastern ends of today's square, respectively. Because of this diversion in traffic, a busy marketplace, called Chessgrid Streets (???) developed in the small, fenced square to the south of this gate.
In the early 1950s, China Gate (as it was then known) was demolished along with the Chessgrid Streets to the south, completing the expansion of 天*门 Square to (approximately) its current size.
The Tian'anmen Square in BeijingEnlarged in 1949 to the current size, its flatness is broken only by the 38 metre high Monument to the People's Heroes and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. The square lies between two ancient, massive gates: the Tian'anmen to the north and the Zhengyangmen, better known as Qianmen (Simplified Chinese: ??; Traditional Chinese: ??; pinyin: Qiánmén; literally "Front Gate") to the south. Along the west side of the Square is the Great Hall of the People. Along the east side is the National Museum of China. Chang'an Avenue, which is used for parades, lies between the Tian'anmen and the Square. Trees line the east and west edges of the Square, but the square itself is open, with neither trees nor benches.
The Square is lit with huge lampposts which also sport video cameras. It is heavily monitored by uniformed and plain clothes policemen.
天*门 Square has been the site of a number of political events such as the proclamation of the People's Republic of China by Mao Zedong in October 1, 1949 and for mass rallies during the Cultural Revolution. It has also been the site of a number of 抗议 movements, most notably the May Fourth Movement of 1919 for science and democracy, 抗议s in 1976 after the death of Zhou Enlai, and the 天*门 Square 抗议s of 1989.
The 抗议s of 1989 resulted in the killing of Chinese 抗议ors in the streets to the west of the square and adjacent areas. Some Western reporters who were on the square during the unfolding events reported that they saw no one actually die on the square itself, though did see bloodied people but could not confirm whether they were either dead or injured (Graham Earnshaw and Columbia Journal Review). However, Chinese expatriates who left the country after the killings said that the total numbers of deaths ended up being in the thousands....
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