On the site of the vanished Gate of China sits the resting place of the Chinese Communist Party’s nominal founder, Mao Zedong. The squat Stalinistic mausoleum was erected in urgency after Mao’s passing in September of 1976 in the center of Tian’anmen Square, and is interestingly placed on Beijing’s north-south axis of symmetry. It is divided into three halls, and the corpse of Mao is viewable in a crystal coffin.
Reverence of Mao Zedong is alive and well throughout the Chinese nation; the abundance of flowers and tears that surround his mummified remains lend a striking reminder of his place within much of the national psyche. It is not just Tian’anmen Tower or the Mao Memorial Hall that displays such arresting respect, living rooms and bell towers across the great expanse of Communist China continue to pay homage in the form of portraits and effigies.
In light of the intense approbation that you will find in the Mao Memorial Hall, take care to hold a dignified presence, and remove your hat upon entry. The statue of the “Great Helmsman” is venerated with flowers, and if you want to hand over the dough, you too can lay one for ¥3. In the following room lies the embalmed corpse of the late party leader, folded in an antiquated hammer and sickle red flag. Stern guards earnestly move the crowds through to the final room where the reverent spectacle is abruptly cheapened with an ocean of campy Mao memorabilia.
Passports are a must here – you cannot get in without them, and bags need to be stowed at the building that lies to the east of the mausoleum. Cross the road from Tian’anmen Square to find the bag storage.