Day 1 - Afternoon
Named after the Gate of heavenly peace and built in the 1650s as the southern gathering point to the Forbidden City at the north end of the square. It was enlarged to its current size in the 1950s and can accomodate 600,000 in its 109 acres. With Mao Zedong's tomb, the National Meuseum of China (one of the largest meuseums in the world!) Great hall of the people (Comunist Government buildings) and the Forbidden city at the north end this square is impressive - and its right in the middle of Beijing and its 20 million people. Best known in recent history, 1989 for the student uprising that resulted in martial law and that infamous student vs tank incident where he was run over and killed. Dozens of others were killed and dozens more disappeared.
When listening to the history here I was thankful to be in China and have the opportunity to see first hand an incredible part of the world and understand a bit better its history, and yet on the other hand, knowing that this society although the hand of communism is slowly releasing its iron fisted grasp, it still isn't anywhere near a democracy. I am thankful every day for the freedoms I enjoy!!
For almost 500 years it served as the home for Emperors and staff. Built during the Ming dynasty it is a massive space, almost 180 acres! With 980 buildings it is truly an impressive site. This Wold heritage site has been the grounds for several coups and various attacks. Each successive leader or new Emperor putting his trade mark on the city and its buildings. The last emperor of live in the city was evicted in 1912 and since that time it has suffered much during the 20th century wars. But the government has undertaken a 16 year restoration project with the goal of returning it to its pre 1912 glory.
On the day we we there the most impressive thing were the number of building and the shear size of the city. We walked from the south entrance to the northern gate right down the middle of the city. The 500 year old marble walkways, steps are in great shape as are many of the buildings within site from the central walkway. It was a complete surprise to me how far we walked from what I thought was the palace to the next and then the last one was where the emperor stayed. The first were for his help & then his concubines and all their children. Its a lot of walking!!!! With lots of stairs, both up and down and several spots along the way to stop and rest too.