21 January 2010

TIAN'AN MEN (天 安 門)

We visited the home of the emperors on the 2nd day, which is the Forbidden City.  Before entering the "Home" we had to cross the national symbol of China which is the well known Tien'An Men square.   It is a very big open space without any shelter and trees, to seek shelter during the wet season and to hide from the hot blazing sun during summer.   It was very windy and cold when we visited, fingers were literally frozen while trying to capture the magnificent scene.

Tian'An Men square is the large plaza in the centre of Beijing City, named after the Tian'An Men which sits to the north, separating it from the Forbidden City.  It is the largest city square in the world which has been the site of many events among which a gathering of pro-democracy protesters in 1989.

人民英雄紀念碑﹣Monument to the People's Heroes is a ten-storey obelisk that was erected as a national monument of the People's Republic of China.  The monument was built in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the revolutionary struggles of the Chinese people during the 19th and 20th centuries.  On the front of the monument there is an inscription in Mao Zedong's handwriting, which reads "Eternal Glory to the People's Heroes".  On the back of the monument there is a message which was drafted by Mao Zedong and written by Zhou Enlai.

Tian'an men literally the "Gate of Heavenly Peace" is a famous monument in Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China. First built during the Ming Dynasty in 1420, Tian'An Men is often referred to as the front entrance of the Forbidden City.  It is located along the northern edge of Tian'An Men square.  To enter the Forbidden City from Tian'An Men square, one has to go under the tunnel as it is impossible to cross the wide heavy traffic road.

The Meridian Gate, Wu Men is the southern entrance of the Forbidden City. Wu Men is the largest and most imposing of the entrances and is the main gate to the Forbidden City.  It has 5 openings and is 35.6 meters high.  The gate is surmounted by five pavilions name Wu Feng Lou, which means "The Tower of the Five Phoenix".   The tower housed drums which were beaten to announce the emperor's departure for the Temple of Heaven, while bells were rung to announce their departure to the Ancestral Temple.

Everyone who entered the Forbidden City had to observe strict rules concerning the use of the Meridian Gate.  The central arch was for the exclusive use of the emperor.  However, an empress was granted the privilege of using this entrance once, and only once, on her wedding day.

As a special honour, the three finalists who achieved the highest awards in the national examinations presided over by the emperor, would be permitted to march through this archway, following their interview with the emperor.  The smaller arch to the east was used by ministers while that to the west was used by the royal family.  The remaining arches were used by petty officials.  Ordinary people were forbidden to enter the city.

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