Built in 1417 in the center of Beijing, the awe-inspiring Tiananmen Square (“the Gate of Heavenly Peace”) is the symbol of the People’s Republic of China. It was originally Chengtianmen (“the Gate of Heavenly Succession”), but after significant damage following numerous wars, it was renamed in 1651 after repairs were made under the Qing Dynasty.
Today, the Square stretches all of 880m by 500m (875yd by 547yd), covering an area of 44 hectares (109 acres), making it the largest square in the world. It was here that Chairman Mao Zedong declared the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 before 500,000 people (the square’s capacity is now 1 million). His portrait is positioned above the central entrance to the Forbidden City over the slogan “Long Live the Great Unity of the Peoples of the World.” The square has seen many historical events in modern history and is the location for performances for national celebrations, such as Labour Day (May 1st) and National Day (October 1st). It is also a place where Chinese come to respect those who were victims of the revolutionary struggle, viewing the journey to square as a kind of pilgrimage.