Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public plaza, has always been a symbol of Mao’s epic Communist project—and resistance to it. Despite its bleak history, the site of the 1989 massacre is today a bustling place, often teeming with tourists and local kids flying kites.
One of the most famous landmarks in all of China, Tiananmen Square and its 125-foot-high (39-meter-high) granite Monument to the People’s Heroes features on just about every Beijing tour. Visitors from around the globe come to have their picture taken in front of the photo of Chairman Mao mounted on the monumental Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen). For those pressed for time, it’s possible to visit the Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square in a single day.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tiananmen Square is a must-see for history buffs, people watchers, and first-time visitors.
- Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk; the square and neighboring Forbidden City are huge.
- Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, as the square provides little shade.
- Visitors are required to pass through a security checkpoint before entering the square.
How to Get There
The easiest way to get to Tiananmen Square is to take the Beijing subway Line 1 to either Tiananmen East or Tiananmen West, or Line 2 to Qianmen. Several public buses also stop at the square.
When to Get There
The national flagpole sits within Tiananmen Square, and the flag-raising ceremony that takes place at sunrise each morning is well worth seeing. Expect big crowds and long lines at the Forbidden City and Mao’s Mausoleum during peak tourist season in summer and on Chinese public holidays.
Attractions in Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square sits at the heart of Beijing, surrounded by some of the city’s top attractions. The Forbidden City, the Museum of Chinese History, the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, the Great Hall of the People, and the Chairman Mao Mausoleum bound the square, so there’s always a lot of activity.