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When you go shopping in the Qian Men commercial area, two majestic towers greet your eyes. They are the Gate of True Sun and Arrow Tower, dubbed as Qian Men (front gate), which stand on the south side of Tiananmen Square. Originally built in 1419, the gate was the south entrance of the Beijing inner city during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). It is the largest well-preserved city gate in Beijing. The gate has become a museum of local customs, and visitors can see Beijing's old city wall, streets, markets and houses through historical photos and relics.
Da Zha Lan (pronounced Da Sha Lanr by Beijing Locals) is one of the few remnants of the city's original system of hutongs, narrow alleys and lanes of either residential or commercial purpose. This narrow Qing Dynasty(1644-1911) street, which resembles a Western city's China town, plays host to a clutch of Beijing's most famous shops and traditional industries: Tong Ren Tang Traditional Chinese Medicine Shop, Zhang Yi Yuan Tea Shop, and the Rui Fu Xiang Silk Shop. There are also trinket shops, back-street cinemas, leather and fur stores and a branch of Tianjin's famous Gou Bu Li fast food restaurant.
This massive mausoleum and memorial hall was built at Tiananmen Square, the center of Beijing (and metaphorically of the whole of China), shortly after Mao Zedong's death in 1976. For nearly 30 years Mao Zedong was the center of the Chinese universe, and he is certainly still revered today by many. The lines that file into the building and pass his glass sarcophagus are long but fast-moving, and visitors often get the feeling that they are being whisked away before they can get a good look at the Great Helmsman, fueling rumors that what is on display is a wax impersonation.
The Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall is an intriguing attraction. The exhibits housed within the hall offer an insight into the past, present and future of urban development in Beijing. The centerpiece of the exhibition hall is a scale model of the entire Beijing Metropolitan Area, offering visitors a chance to see the entire city in a single go, albeit a miniature version of it. The model takes up an entire floor and can be viewed from above. Other exhibits include scale models of existing and planned structures, multimedia displays, 3-D movies and old photographs.
Located in the heart of Beijing, Legation Quarter is housed in a former American embassy. This historic quadrangle now, has two buildings which house fine dining restaurants like Maison Boulud and Ristorante Sadler, the Beijing Center for the Arts, a theater, a nightclub and several luxury retail stores. Legation Quarter adds a modern touch to the historic context of the place which is attached to the Qing Dynasty. This premier lifestyle complex is sure to give you a unique upscale experience.
Located at the Western edge of Tiananmen Square, The Great Hall of the People functions as China's parliament building and has halls representing each province of China, all decorated according to the local style. It was built in 1959 as part of the Ten Great Constructions honoring the 10th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. The main hall, called The Great Auditorium, can seat 10,000 representatives. Tours of the various halls are given when meetings are not in session but guided tours are only in Chinese. Public tours are only possible when meetings are not in session.
Tiananmen Square is one of the largest public squares in the world. The square is surrounded by a cluster of massive buildings including Tiananmen Gate, The Forbidden City, the Great Hall of the People, The Monument of the People's Heroes and the Mao Ze Dong Mausoleum. The original square was built in 1651, though it has undergone extensive expansion since then. The square has figured in many historical events; Mao Zedong announced the founding of the People's Republic there in 1949, and in 1989 the area was the site of the famous Tiananmen Square Protests, a pro-democracy movement that ended in the deaths of many civilians. Today, visitors can walk through the square and learn more about its turbulent history. Â
Standing like some huge lost monolith at the southern end of Tian An Men Square, Qian Men, which literally translates as “Front Gate”, actually consists of two separate gates about 50 meters apart, each the size of a small castle. They used to mark the boundary between the inner and outer cities, but now one stands isolated on a traffic island, facing its counterpart across six lanes of impenetrable Beijing traffic. They look a little lost without the city wall, but remain impressive nonetheless. When open, you can ascend for a view over the square below.