POLITICAL HEART OF BEIJING
Tiananmen Square is said to be the world's largest public plaza. This immense square represents clash of both classic heritage and modern Chinese revolution. It is hard not to think about the 1989 demonstrations when there. The very long line of people waiting to enter Mao's mausoleum puts things in perspective. The square resembles the Red Square in Moscow, which is no wonder as it was quadrupled in size in 1950s under the Soviet supervision. In the process two major gates were destroyed.
Early risers can witness the national flag raising ceremony. This attracts hundreds of spectators daily, especially during national holidays. Mao Mausoleum is located on the south side of the square. The embalmed body of Chairman Mao is on display in a crystal coffin. On the west side of the square, The Great Hall of the People hosted political delegations and meetings for National People's Assembly. Opposite of this Soviet-style government building is the National Museum of China. The museum is divided in two parts, Museum of Chinese Revolution and Museum of Chinese History.
Opposite of Mao Mausoleum is the iconic Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Place), a southernmost (and the only) entrance to the Forbidden City. The Gate is the symbol of Beijing and it's the only public building that displays the portrait of Mao on the outside. The viewing platform above the Mao portrait offers some spectacular views of this gigantic plaza, and there is a small fee to enter the platform.
To get to Tian'anmen use subway Line 1 (Tiananmen East or Tiananmen West stations) or Line 2 (Qianmen station). The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall is only open from 8:00-12:00 Tuesday to Sunday, but the line was too long so we skipped it. You don't need much time here, few photos and you are ready for the Forbidden City.