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You Won't Believe How Big Beijing's Tiananmen Square Really Is


By Greg Rodgers
Asia Travel Expert, about.com
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Tiananmen Square is not only the hectic heart of Beijing, it’s the fourth largest public square in the world. Expanded to portray the enormity of the communist party, Tiananmen is a seemingly endless plain of concrete and monolithic structures. 

Chinese travel vast distances across their country to walk and pose for pictures in Tiananmen Square. With 109 acres (440,000 square meters) of space, the square can hold more than 600,000 people. Even with that much room, Tiananmen feels packed to capacity during big events such as National Day. Strolling around Tiananmen Square is an unforgettable experience for anyone visiting Beijing.

Orientation

[post_ads]Tiananmen Square is oriented north to south, with the Forbidden City occupying the northern -- and busiest -- end of the square. Chairman Mao’s mausoleum and the Monument to the People’s Heroes are located near the center of Tiananmen Square. The Great Hall of the People is in the northwest corner of the square; the Museum of the Chinese Revolution along with the Museum of Chinese History are located in the northeast corner.

Despite the enormity, Tiananmen Square is actually not the largest public square in the world as many claim. Xinghai Square, located in the Chinese city of Dalian, claims the title with over 1.1 million square meters of space.

Tip: For a classic photo, time your visit for the raising or lowering of the flag at dawn and dusk respectively. The daily ceremony takes place at the flagpole on the northern end of Tiananmen Square. With a sharply dressed color guard present and Chairman Mao’s portrait on the entrance of the Forbidden City behind the flag, you’ll get some great shots.

Guidelines for Visiting Tiananmen Square[post_ads_2]

  • With a history as being the center for protests, Tiananmen Square is heavily patrolled by both armed and undercover policemen. Fire extinguisher stations are dotted throughout the square should someone self immolate in protest. Avoid wearing clothing that portrays any type of political message or theme (e.g., ‘Free Tibet shirts’). Read about the massacre that occurred in Tiananmen Square.
  • Any landmark that draws large numbers of visitors tends to also draw large numbers of unscrupulous con artists who prey on those visitors. Remain vigilant but friendly. Students and Chinese visitors may approach you for photos or to shyly ask for an impromptu English lesson. While these are usually harmless encounters, don’t commit to going for food or drinks -- you’ll likely end up stuck with the bill.
  • Plenty of street hawkers surround the Tiananmen area and will pester you to make small purchases. Reply with a firm "bu yao" (don’t want/need it). Some may not take no for an answer, so you’ll need to walk away from them. Learn more about communicating in China.
  • Tiananmen Square is lit at night; walking around the expanse when it is less busy almost gives the feeling of walking across a concrete desert.
  • Bikes must be walked through Tiananmen Square.

Getting to Tiananmen Square[post_ads_2]

Tiananmen Square is located in the center of Beijing. The city’s most famous landmark is so prominent that it is nearly impossible to miss if you’re anywhere near proximity.

If staying outside of walking distance, you can reach the square via taxi or subway. A fleet of public buses service Tiananmen Square, however, navigating them can be challenging for an uninitiated visitor.

Tiananmen Square has four subway stops. Line 1 (red) is Beijing’s busiest. You can access the north end of Tiananmen Square via the Tiananmen East (Xi) and Tiananmen West (Dong) subway stops from Line 1. The Tiananmen East stop is nearest -- only one stop away -- from the tourist area of Wangfujing. Line 2 (blue) has one stop on the south end of Tiananmen Square, Qianmen Station.

Even taxi drivers who speak very limited English will recognize your attempts to pronounce Tiananmen Square, or just ask for the “Forbidden City” in English.

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Travel Magazine: You Won't Believe How Big Beijing's Tiananmen Square Really Is
You Won't Believe How Big Beijing's Tiananmen Square Really Is
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