Tiananmen Square 1989

Monument to the People's Heroes

In the middle of Tiananmen Square sits the Renmin Yinxiong Jinian Bei, or Monument to the People's Heroes, which can be seen in the foreground. Dedicated to the men and women who died in the struggles to make China an independent nation in the century before the Communists came to power, it has acted as a lightning rod for dissent. After the start of the Falungong demonstrations, it was cordoned off from the public.

The cornerstone was laid by Mao Zedong and Zhu De on September 30, 1949, a day before the official establishment of the People's Republic of China. The location chosen represented a clear break with the feudal dynastic past by being positioned in the middle of the old imperial pathway.

Completed in 1958, more than 10,000 tons of stone were used for the 40 meter high obelisk. At the base of the monument are eight two meter tall bas-relief panels depicting seminal events in the Communist interpretation of Chinese history between 1839 and 1949.

Mausoleum

The Mao Zedong Memorial Hall seen behind the monument is the only visible reminder of China's transitional leader Hua Guofeng who served between Mao's death in 1976 and the rise to power of Deng Xiaoping in 1978. The mausoleum was completed in 1977.

The mausoleum is usually open Tuesday-Sunday 8:30-11:30am and 2-4pm; admission is free. Before viewing Mao's remains contained within a crystal sarcophagus, visitors are required to check in any baggage or camera gear on the east side of the Memorial Hall. Visitors queuing up normally see the North, Homage, and South Halls. According to Li Zhisui, Mao's personal physician, the Chairman's internal organs preserved in formaldehyde and wax replica of his corpse were stored in the basement of the building. It is unknown if they are still there today.

Text on this page by Ed Lanfranco.

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