We started the day at 7:45 and were at Tiananmen Square by 8AM. We had a light drizzle to contend with but we were fortunate that it never got worse, just very gray. Between the drizzle and the cloud cover pictures seem a little dull. Smog was not bad today, they say the rain helps to cleanse the air. The smog on day 1 was pretty bad; we all had a scratchy throat and an odd taste in our mouth at the end of the day.
Tiananmen Square is a city square in the city center of Beijing built in 1415 during the Ming Dynasty. It is the site of many protests over the years, the most famous to westerners is the one in 1989 where thousands of protesters were killed. The most famous picture is:
The square is very large and saying it was crowded is an understatement. Average daily visitors this time of year is 20,000 to 40,000 people daily. Something I failed to mention in an earlier blog is how beautiful the Chinese government maintains gardens and streets. Everywhere you look there are beautiful flowers, trees, hedges, and artwork. They even have flowers growing on highway dividers. Back to the square….
The gardens surrounding the square were just as beautiful as what we saw throughout the city. Being part of a tour group has it’s pluses and minuses. The positive side is that you get to hear about the history and you have an interpreter. The negative is that you don’t have the chance to really walk around a lot at some of the attractions. I would love to have been able to shoot some of the gardens and artwork.
Here are a few shots of the square.
At the far end of the square is the entrance to the Forbidden City, with Mao Zedong above the entrance.
The Forbidden City is massive and is surrounded by a 26 ft high wall with a gate at each of it’s 4 sides. There is an inner court and an outer court.
The outer court is used primarily for ceremonial purposes and the Golden Water River runs through the city. The inner court was used by the emperor as living quarters. It was very crowded and hard to get decent pictures.
There are five bridges that cross the Inner Golden Water River each shaped like an arrow and pointing to heaven. The 5 bridges also represent the 5 virtues preached by Confucius: benevolence, righteousness, propriety, intelligence and fidelity.