On a day off, last week, I finally made it to Tiananmen Square which translates as: “Gate of Heavenly Peace.” The gate is a wall of the Imperial City (pictures below) constructed in the 1400’s during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The square is one of the ten largest in the world and contains the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. It’s so large there are two subway stops.
The feel of walking around is very imposing. There are massive buildings and lots of military personnel keeping guard although no one was carrying automatic weapons. Still, there is an air on tension and you should expect to be stopped at anytime to present your passport which only happened once to me. I was told, not to carry any backpacks which attracts attention and will slow you down going into any building. I also kept my photography to a minimum, quite aware that there are video cameras everywhere.
I did enjoy walking around the Imperial City and I will return at some point to take the tour. On the fringes of the square is the Beijing Bookstore, an immense, multi-level store where I bought a very large wall map of China (for the guestroom) and a coffee-table book of Picasso’s work, who I love. As it turns out, I just discovered there is a new Picasso exhibit that just opened up across town, and I will head there this week on one of my days off.