Almost every city has some sort of public square which serves as an important commercial meeting place. Filled with history and surrounded by shops, museums and city halls, visiting famed city squares should be something all travelers do. You can’t visit Beijing without seeing Tiananmen Square and taking in a little piece of Chinese history. Here are five things you need to know before visiting Tiananmen Square.
- Where is Tiananmen Square, when was it built and what does it stand for?
Tiananmen Square is located in the center of Beijing, China and was first designed and built in 1651. Tiananmen stands for ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’ and was named after the main gate to the Forbidden City which is located at the northern end. In 1958 it was enlarged to four times its original size and now currently covers an area close to 100 acres and can hold at least 1 million people.
- How can I get to Tiananmen Square and when is the best time to visit?
Beijing Airport is located approximately 30 km away and is the closest airport. Many buses run from the airport directly to Tiananmen Square daily. In addition, it is located on subway line 1 and can also be reached by taxi. The best time to visit is during September, October, March and May when the weather is better. Try to avoid visiting on national holidays as there are generally extremely long lines and large crowds.
- Are there are any rules that travelers need to abide by when visiting the Square?
Yes. As is with most historic monuments in China, there are strict rules when visiting the square. All visitors, both locals and international are subjected to security screenings before entering the vicinity of Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden Palace. The Rules are more stringent when visiting the Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao. Wear neat clothes when entering the Memorial Hall. Vests and slippers are not allowed. Hats should be taken off when paying your respects. Backpacks, handbags and any food items are strictly forbidden. No cameras, video cameras and extreme noise.
- What happened in 1989?
Tiananmen Square is often remembered for the many protests that have taken place here. One of the most remembered ones is the pro-democracy protests in 1989 which resulted in thousands of deaths. In 1989, after several weeks of demonstrations, Chinese troops entered Tiananmen Square on June 4 and fired on civilians.
- What can I see in this area?
If you’re an early riser, you can also view the flag-raising ceremony early in the morning. Arrive at the square before sunrise to see the guard of honor raise the flag. Surrounding Tiananmen Square are a range of monuments for you to explore: Tiananmen Gate, the Museum of Chinese History and Chinese Revolution and the Mao Mausoleum. The National Stadium and Temple of Heaven are also nearby.
Have you visited Tiananmen Square? I’d love to hear about your experience!