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Tiananmen Square

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China's insider take:

Named for the Gate of Heavenly Peace, an entrance to the Forbidden City that stands at the north end of the square, this vast concrete expanse (it covers more than a hundred acres) is dominated by an unsmiling portrait of Chairman Mao. It was here that the former dictator announced the formation of the People's Republic in 1949. In the center stands the towering Monument to the People's Heroes, a ten-story obelisk that honors revolutionaries from 1839 to 1949. Also in the heart of the square is the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, where you can glimpse the embalmed Great Helmsman. No trace remains of the 1989 pro-democracy protest, in which hundreds of students died when columns of military tanks suppressed the uprising. Instead, you'll find digicam-wielding Chinese tourists strolling the perimeter or watching the daily flag ceremonies at dawn and dusk. Just off the southeast corner of the square is the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall, featuring an impressive nearly 3,230-square-foot scale model of Beijing in 2020 and an exhibition detailing the capital's 2008 Olympic planning.

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