Tiananmen Square

Nowadays the Tiananmen Square represents the heart of China’s capital Beijing. It spans an area of 50 hectares and is the biggest square worldwide. Tiananmen Square was much smaller during the reign of China’s emperors and had the size of a T whose broader end was marked by the Gate of Heavenly Peace, as it can still be seen today. The ministry of war was sitting eastwards of Tiananmen Square and the civil ministry had its premises located westwards. Both of these adminstrative buildings had a column built in front of them facing each other.

In the old days, Qianmen, the southern gate of Tiananmen Square which is located at the same meridian line as the Gate of Heavenly Peace, represented the connection between the imperial city and the residential area of Beijing’s common people, who were not allowed to enter Tiananmen Square. After China’s last emperor was defeated by the Kuomintang and the Qing-Dynasty ended in 1911, Tiananmen Square was opened up to the public and henceforth turned into a place where China’s people would demonstrate and utter their complaints to or about the Chinese government.

Most of the time Tiananmen Square is being associated with several happenings which had quite an enormous impact on China’s history. For example the demonstration on the 4th of  May in 1919 when China lost its right over the German colonies in Shandong to the Japanese after the Second World War. Students and other intellectuals demonstrated against the result of the treaty of Versaille and demanded the democratization and wersternization of China.

The demonstration on the Tiananmen Square in 1919 set the beginning of China’s movement of nationalism and cultural reorientation. In 1949 China’s most famous leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to an audience of 500,000 in Tiananmen Square. After 1949 the huge city walls were pulled down, blocks of buildings were reduced to rubble to widen the boulevards and Tiananmen Square.

The enlargement was finished in 1959 and in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing was decorated with ten overwhelming edifices on the basis of stalinesque architecture. Tiananmen Square was covered with two of them, on its eastern side with the museum of history and revolution and on its western side the Great Hall of the people, one of Beijing’s most fascinating buildings with its green and yellow glazed-tile roof, portico and colonnades.

Nowadays Tiananmen Square presents a 40 meter high square stele in its very center. This monument displays inscriptions of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai and reliefs telling the story of China’s revolutional history. Mao Zedong is also being commemorated by a mausoleum located south of the stele on the imperial North-South axis.

In 1989 Tiananmen Square was again the center point of attention and this time the whole world was watching. Hundreds and thousands of Chinese students and intellectuals stayed on Tiananmen Square for several days to demonstrate against the unbearable living conditions in China and the incompetence und corruption of China’s leaders. Democratization and a change of leadership were being demanded.

The demonstration culminated when the Chinese government sent army troops in full battle gear and tanks to free Tiananmen Square from the demonstrators and thousands of people were massacred. Since then demonstrations on Tiananmen Square have been strictly forbidden.


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