History of Tiananmen Square and My Visit
Tiananmen Square is the world’s largest public square. Where the square is now located used to be the quarters for the Imperial Guard, and the rice and wood storage for the imperial kitchen. The area became a public square during the Republican Era after fires and demolition destroyed the building in the area. The 1919 May Fourth Movement took place here, beginning the honorable tradition of patriotic dissent. In 1967, hundreds of thousands of Red Guards crowded the square, chanting Mao’s name and waving Mao’s Red Book. In June 1989, the square was the center point of what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Hundreds of students and bystanders were killed by troops sent in to break up the pro-democracy protest.
In the middle of the square stands China’s tallest monument, the Monument to the People’s Heroes (Renmin Yingxiong Jinianbei, in Chinese). The monument is a 125-feet-tall granite obelisk constructed between 1952 and 1958 to remember those who died for the Revolution. It is decorated by quotes from Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou Enlai. The base is lined with eight marble reliefs with scenes of revolution from 1840 to 1949.
We were rushed through the square by our tour guides, like so many places during our trip. We only took a group picture with the Forbidden City in the background. I was here long enough to notice that it is a very crowded place with many local children flying kites. It was also a major place to be bothered by street salespeople. They would follow us trying to sell their many items. They were selling everything from Mao’s Red Book to postcards to hats with the Beijing 2008 Olympic logo. They could be rather annoying, getting in our way and refusing to go away when we said no in English and Chinese.