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Tiananmen Square


The Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing, is said to be the biggest square in the world. It is 880 meters from north to south, and 500 meters from east to west, with total area of 440,000 square meters and can hold one million people. The Tiananmen Gate Tower sites at the north, the Five-Star Red Flag flies high on the square, the Monument to the People's Heroes dominates the center, the Great Hall of the People and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the Museum of Chinese History to the east and west of it, as well as The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Qianmen gate, sit in the south of the square. Over several hundred years, in front of the Tiananmen, many democracy meetings and demonstrations are held. Tens of thousands of people visit daily. The Square is listed top among Beijing's 16 scenic spots.

The Lions Before Tiananmen-- Facing Out

As the first gate of the Imperial City, the Tiananmen Gate was designed very grand and magnificent as befitted the supremacy of the emperor. Old Beijingers have deep feeling towards Tiananmen and there are quite a lot XIEHOUYU-- a kind of two-part allegorical sayings. THE LIONS BEFORE TIANANMEN-- SET FACING OUT uses the two huge stone lions standing at the end of the Jinshui (Golden Water) Bridge in front of Tiananmen Gate to describe two well-matched forces.


A well-known architectural ornament in China is the huabiao, often seen on the grounds of palaces, imperial gardens and mausoleums. It is also seen at some crossroads to mark the throroughfares.

There is a pair of such ornamental pillars carved out of marble standing in front and behind Tian'anmen, the Gate of Heavenly Peace, at the centre of Beijing. Each pillar, entwined by a divine dragon engraved in relief, carried a plate on top called CHENGLUPAN for collecting dew,on which squats an animal called kong. This creature in Chinese mythology is supposed to be born of the dragon and good at keeping watch. It is generally referred to as the "stone lion." The four kong at Tian'anmen have different names, the two in front facing south and with their backs to the wall are called wangjungui or "looking out for the emperor's return." Their duty, it is said, was to watch over the emperor's excursions and call him back if he was too long absent from the palace. The couple inside the gate facing north are called wangjunchu or "looking out for the emperor's progress," and their job was to supervise how the emperor behaved in the imperial palace. If he should indulge himself and neglect court affairs, the stone lions would remind him of his duties and tell him to go out among the people.

These popular explanations reflected the naive wishes of the people for an emperor who would listen to advice and work really for their good.

The huabiao has a long history behind it and can be traced back to Yao and Shun, lengendary sage kings in remote times. to solicit public criticism, it is said, they erected wooden crosses at marketplaces so that the people might write their complaints and wishes on them. These wooden posts were replaced during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-- 220 A.D.) by stone pillars, which grew more and more decorative and ornately carved until they became the sumptuous columns to palace gates.


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