Another of Beijing’s highlight is the Tiananmen Square. It’s a very large plaza at the center of Beijing; a plaza named after the Tiananmen Gate (with Chairman Mao’s portrait, remember?). The Tiananmen Gate sits North to the plaza, and thus connecting/separating the plaza from the Forbidden city.
Some numbers, just to get a good feeling at how big this plaza is! The square is 880 metres from North to South, and 500 metres from East to West, with a total area of 440 000 square meters (44 hectares). Trust me, it’s huge!
The first thing I noticed was the two ornamental columns in front of the Tiananmen/Heavenly Gate. The caption says “Built in 1420, with a height of 9.57 meters and a weight over 20 000 kilo, the columns are carved of white marble”.
And, to complement Tiananmen main structures, there are also 2 pairs of stone lions, 2 meters high (yeah…I know… too many details, but I just love numbers!). Those lions look really cute!
Within the square lies the Chairman Mao’s mausoleum. And no, I didn’t get inside, I think it’s a bit creepy to see a dead man…even though it seems really popular for Chinese visitors. And next to it, is the Communist monument.
There’s also the People’s Heroes monument. The words “The people’s heroes are immortal” are engraved here, in the handwriting of Mao.
There’s of course, a flag! The national flag is raised daily at sunrise and lowered at sunset. I actually had the chance to see the procession lowering the flag…good timing for once!
On the East side stands the National Museum, and on the West side the Great Hall of People.
Unfortunately, this plaza is world-wide famous for sad events. In the Spring of 1989, Chinese students and workers occupied it and began the largest nonviolent political protest in China. The government put an end to it on June 4: a real massacre, witnessed on television by millions of people. Apparently, some of the paving stones in the square are hiding
trapdoor, from which police forces came out during the protests. I am not sure if it’s still the case nowadays. But, the police force is still quite present in the square: police officers in plainclothes & cameras all around.
As I was walking, I kept thinking “I am walking on the grounds where young people died because of their beliefs…” It’s pretty sad!
A bit further South, the area is called Qianmen (means Front Gate), where stand the Zhengyangmen gatehouse (left) and the Archery Tower (right) further south. The 42 meter tall gate Zhengyangmen was once part of the imperial inner city wall. And the Archery Tower, named JianLou, is 38 meter high.
Traveling in a new country, isn’t just about visiting historical sites. It’s also about tasting the country’s food specialties. Eating is the best way to find out a bit more about a country’s culture and habits. And, thanks to my parents, eating new dishes was definitely something that I love to do! Since I was a kid, my parents always brought us, me and my sis, to foreign restaurants: Lebanese, Chinese, Moroccan, Thai, Greek, Indian, Vietnamese, …. – to try out new flavours. It was OK if we didn’t like it, but we had to try it – at least one byte!
But I never was a “picky eater”. I just eat about everything…hmmmm except maybe for insects and tripe. I can’t seem to overcome my feeling of disgust!
And besides being really easy to please 😉 , I am a strong believer in “You can’t
think straight do anything on an empty stomach”. So, I was determined to try out new flavours & textures during this trip around the world.
Here are pics of food & drinks I had…and I can tell you it was really good !! (except maybe for the fruit salad with mayonnaise & tomatoes – Yes, you read well, fruit, mayo & tomatoes!! It was Ionel’s cousin who ordered it… I didn’t try it, it looked really gross! First line, second pic )