Tiananmen Square: Wikis


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Tiananmen Square as seen from the Tian'an Gate

Tian'anmen Square (simplified Chinese: 天安门广场traditional Chinese: 天安門廣場pinyin: Tiān'ānmén Guǎngchǎng) is the large plaza near the centre of Beijing, China, named after the Tiananmen (literally, Gate of Heavenly Peace) which sits to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several key events in Chinese history.

The Tiananmen Square is the largest city square in the world. It has been the site of many events, among which a gathering of pro-democracy protesters in 1989. The protest ended when hundreds of these protesters were killed by government troops in the streets leading from the square.



Gate of China, viewed from the south. Area shown in photo is approximately the site of the present Mao Zedong Mausoleum on Tiananmen Square.

The Tiananmen Gate was first built in 1417 in the Ming Dynasty. During the demise of the Ming Dynasty, heavy fighting between Li Zicheng and the early Qing emperors damaged (or perhaps destroyed) the gate. The Tian'anmen square was originally designed and built in Beijing in 1651.[1] It was enlarged to its present size (four times its original size) and cemented over in 1958.[2]

British and French troops who invaded Beijing in 1860 pitched camp near the gate and briefly considered burning the gate and the entire Forbidden City down. They decided ultimately to spare the palace and to burn instead the emperor's Old Summer Palace. The Qing emperor eventually agreed to let the foreign powers establish headquarters in the area. During the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 the siege badly damaged the office complexes and several ministries were burnt down. In the conflict's denouement, the area became a space for foreign troops to assemble their armies and horses. It was cleared in due course to produce the beginning of what is now known as the Tiananmen 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" (大明门) during the Ming Dynasty, "Great Qing Gate" (大清门) during the Qing Dynasty, and "Gate of China" (中华门) during the Republic of China era. Unlike the other gates in Beijing, such as the Tiananmen 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 was diverted to two side gates at the northern and eastern ends of today's square, respectively. Because of this diversion in traffic, a busy marketplace, called Chessgrid Streets (棋盘街) developed in the big, fenced square to the south of this gate. In the early 1950s, the Gate of China (as it was then known) was demolished along with the Chessgrid Streets to the south, completing the expansion of Tiananmen Square to (approximately) its current size.


The Tian'anmen Square in Beijing

Used as a massive meeting place since its creation, its flatness is broken only by the 38-metre (125 ft) high Monument to the People's Heroes completed in 1958, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong completed in 1977.[2] The square lies between two ancient, massive gates: the Tian'anmen to the north and the Zhengyangmen, better known as Qianmen (simplified Chinese: 前门traditional Chinese: 前門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 (dedicated to Chinese history predating 1919). 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.


Tiananmen Square has been the site of a number of political events and student protests. These include the May Fourth Movement in 1919; the proclamation of the People's Republic of China by Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949; annual mass military displays on all subsequent National Days until October 1st, 1959; the 1984 military parade for the 35th anniversary of the People's Republic of China and the 50th anniversary in 1999; and for mass rallies during the Cultural Revolution.

The protests of 1989 resulted in the massacre of Chinese protesters in the streets to the west of the square and adjacent areas. Eyewitness accounts of the events on the night of June 3 and the early morning of June 4, 1989 continue to emerge from former student leaders and intellectuals, broadening the scope of the original reporting of the massacre by Western media outlets. This was the scene for the iconic image of Tank Man, where a column of PLA tanks was stopped in its tracks by a brave protester. No one knows if the man in the image is still alive.[3] 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 they did see bloodied people but could not confirm whether they were dead or injured.[4][5][6][7][8] Further reports show that the theatre of the massacre spanned across Beijing, and was densely concentrated on Chang'an Avenue, literally the "Forever Peace Street," or the main approach to Tiananmen gate where citizens returned to locate missing protesters driven from the square hours before. Video footage shows the military repeatedly opening fire here on unarmed citizens and medical personnel advancing toward Tiananmen Square to locate the missing and assist the wounded.[9]

Images from near and in the square


  1. ^ "Tiananmen Square". Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 2007. http://encyclopedia2.tfd.com/Tiananmen+Square. Retrieved 2008-08-03.  
  2. ^ a b Safra, J. (Ed.). (2003). Tiananmen Square. In New Encyclopædia Britannica, The (15th ed., Chicago: Vol. 11). Encyclopædia Britannica INC. p. 752. Britannica Online version
  3. ^ http://www.64memo.com/d/Default.aspx?tabid=194&language=en-US
  4. ^ 13 March 2008.
  5. ^ http://www.morningsun.org/stages/tsquare/spence_gate.html
  6. ^ Human Rights in China (Organization). Children of the dragon: the story of Tianamen Square. New York/London: Collier Books; Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1990.
  7. ^ Wu, Hung. "Tiananmen Square: A Political History of Monuments." Representations 35 (Summer 1991): 84-117.
  8. ^ Wu, Hung. Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square and the creation of a political space. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
  9. ^ PBS FRONTLINE: "The Tank Man" http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tankman

External links

Coordinates: 39°54′12″N 116°23′30″E / 39.90333°N 116.39167°E / 39.90333; 116.39167


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Tian'anmen Square


Tian'anmen Square

  1. A large square in Beijing, China.
  2. A protest event held in the square on June 4, 1989.

See also

Simple English

Tiananmen Square is a large plaza near the center of Beijing, China. It is named after the Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) which sits to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. Outside of China, the square is well-known for the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

The square is 880 metres south to north and 500 metres east to west, a total area of 440,000 square meters. It is the largest open-urban square in the world.

Tianamen Square

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