Tiananmen Square is the largest city square in the world, at 440,000 square meters, and can hold about one million people for public celebration or gatherings. In the square tourists can climb the Tiananmen Rostrum, attend the national flag raising ceremony every morning at sunrise, visit the National Museum of China, and go to the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, in which one will see the body of the great Chinese leader.
Tiananmen Square holds the Monument of the National Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. To the north is the Forbidden City and to the south the Temple of Heaven.
The Tiananmen Rostrum, standing to the north of the Tiananmen Square, on the south–north central axis of Beijing, was the main gate of the royal palace of both the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It was initially called Chengtianmen (Carrying Heaven Gate), which means to bear the edict and divine power of Heaven itself, as the Emperor, who used this gate, was believed to. In the eighth year of emperor Shunzhi's administration (1652), the gate was refurbished and called Tiananmen (the Gate of Heavenly Peace). From then on nearly all important imperial celebrations and events, such as: the enthronement of an emperor, imperial weddings, the rite of the emperor going to battle, the famous "Imperial Edict Issued by the Golden Phoenix", the worship of Heaven and Earth and the worship of the five grains, have involved passing through this gate.
The magnificent gate has five openings. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the passage in the middle leading to the Forbidden City was reserved for the emperor himself. The emperor went through the central passage on the way to the altars for rituals and other religious activities. High-ranking government officials and the empresses, concubines, princess and princesses could only enter the Forbidden City through the side passages, while ordinary subjects were absolutely forbidden to go inside the Forbidden City, hence its name. The 34.7 meter-high Tiananmen Rostrum seems even more magnificent in the sunshine, with glittering yellow glazed tiles on the roof and deep red walls and pillars.
Before Tiananmen are the Golden Water Bridge and the white Huabiao, a pair of ornamental columns made of white marble sculptured with dragon designs. They are also called "slander pillars", as in ancient times they carried the ordinary people's slander and suggestions for the emperor. There is also a pair of big stone lions on Tian'anmen Square.
Tips: A ceremony for the raising and lowering of the Chinese national flag is held at sunrise and sunset everyday.
A drink in the Former 1920's US Embassy, in the Legation Quarter
A Short walk south-east of Tiananmen Square is an elegant courtyard of two-story buildings housing the U.S. Embassy in 1903 to 1949. It has now been lovingly restored by a French New Yorker and celebrity chef, Daniel Boulud. World class dinning at China prices.
Enter the largest building Maison Boulud in the main building and your find a French New Yorker who not only can cook some of the best food but serves an amazing cocktails with an interesting Chinese twist.
Time magazine's travel article recommended the Lychee Martini as probably the best in the world.
If on a budget and wanting a deal, go at lunchtime and have his four-course brunch at under 300 RMB, that’s about $45.
Address: Maison Boulud, 23 Qianmen Dong Dajie 前门东大街23号
Tel: +86 6559 920
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I updated this article on April 15, 2014
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