Tian’anmen square

Though the square itself is not particularly good-looking, it is immense(covering 44 hectares, it is the largest square in the world) and filled with tourists from all parts of China every day. In the middle of the square is the Monument to the People’s Heroes. Directly north is Chang’an Avenue, Beijing’s main drag. Acorss the street is Tian’anmen Gate, which is recognizable instantly by the huge portrait of Mao Zedong hanging on it. Tian’anmen Gate is the gate which leads to the Forbidden City. To the west is the Great Hall of the People, which houses the National People’s Congress, but when Congress is not in session the Hall is the venue for concerts and cultural events. The Great Hall is occasionally rented out for other purposes as well. Off to the east is the National History Museum, on which is displayed a large digital countdown clock, ticking off the days and seconds until the return of Macao to Chinese sovereignty on December 20, 1999. Before July 1, 1997, the same clock was used to count down the days untkl the return of Hong Kong. Back to the south is the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, where you can wait in line and be quickly ushered (sans camera) past the crystal coffin where “mao” now lies. Incidentally, the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall is the only attraction in Beijing that has free admission. The other interesting thing to do in the square is to watch the flag-raising ceremony at sunrise. This is the perfect activity for travelers who have not yet recovered battalion of PLA troops marches out each morning and raises the flag exactly at sunrise. Then, at sunset the flag is taken down again. Every tourists gather in the square to watch this solemn ceremony. Exact times for sunrise and sunset are posted next to the flagpole in red, digital numbers. On holidays and special ocasions the square is filled with flower arrangements and fountains. There are people all over the square hawking kites, as it is a popular site for locals to go and fly their kites, which range from simple one-piece jobs, to elaborate meterslong dragons.

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