Gate of Heavenly Peace Rostrum

Gate of Heavenly Peace Rostrum was opened to the public for the first time in its history in 1988. From the rostrum of Tian’anmen, the late Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1,1949, and since then it has been the symbol of New China.

In modern Chinese history, several large mass demonstrations have taken place here. The most famous was on May 4, 1919, when more than 3,000 students from Beijing schools and universities came to the square to demonstrate against imperialism and the rule of the military leaders. The event was a landmark in modern Chinese history.

The structure was first named Chengtianmen (Gate of Power Endowed from Heaven or Gate of Heavenly Succession) when it was built in 1417 as the main gate of the former Imperial Palace. In 1456 the wooden structure burned down after it was struck by lighting. It was rebuilt in l6519 and renamed Tian’anmen. In 1644, when Li Zicheng, the leader of a peasant uprising, was defeated by the Manchus, he set fire to the building before running away from the city. The building was enlarged when it was rebuilt for the second time in 1651, and this is the structure which still stands today. The nine-room-wide and five-room-long wooden gate tower was built to reflect the highly-exalted status of the Emperor.

Located to the north of Tian’anmen Square, the building has red stone walls, a wooden roof and five entrances – the largest, in the middle, leads to the Forbidden City. The building is surrounded by a moat, Jinshui (Golden Water), which was designed to guard the Imperial Palace. Five marble bridges, the Golden Water bridges, lead to the five passages of the gate. Two ornamental columns stand in front of the whole complex.

The gate and the square were out of bounds to the public in imperial time. The Emperor alone was entitled to pass through the central passage. Before leaving on a journey he would make a sacrifice in front of the gate. At other times imperial edicts were sent down, in a gilded box shaped like a phoenix, to officials kneeling below. Hence the expression: “the Imperial Orders Given by the Gilded Phoenix.” The edict was then taken to the Ministry of Rites where copies were made for dispatch to the whole country. It was also the place for the Emperor to review royal armies and receive prisoners of war.

Tian’anmen (Gate of Heavely Peace) is not only the site of the most important gatherings since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, but also one of the most valuable historical sites in China.

Parades take place here on important days, such as the rallies on May1, International Labour Day. Before each parade the building is re-painted and generally tidied up.The whole tower roof was replaced as part of a large-scale restoration in 1984, following the original line and shape.The balcony is 33.7 metres high, 62.77 metres long and 27.25 metres wide. It can hold 20,000 guests.The tourist can get a good view of the 40 hectare square across the five marble bridges. To the north is the Forbidden City.
There are 67 steps leading to the top of the Rostrum of Tian’anmen Gate.

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