Tian’anmen Tower, also known as the Gate of Heavenly Peace, faces the square from the northern side of the main road (Chang’an Jie) and has a spectacular view of the square and the Soviet-style “wedding cake buildings” that surround it. It was from this iconic vantage point that Mao historically proclaimed the People’s Republic of China on 1 October, 1949. Jumping further back in history, the majestic gatehouse was used to promulgate the coronation of a new emperor during its dynastic days. Only imperial family members or aristocrats were allowed to enter the tower until 1912, when the Qing Dynasty came to an abrupt end in the face of revolutionary zeal. Massive military parades are still viewed from this tower by China’s modern political elite.
The beautifully imposing tower hangs a 1.5-ton portrait of Mao just below his historical standing-point of the October 1st declaration, which is sandwiched by two giant placards. The left one reads “Long Live the People’s Republic of China” (Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó Wànsuì 中华人民共和国万岁), while the right one reads “Long Live the Great Unity of the World’s Peoples” (Shìjiè Rénmín Dàtuánjié Wànsuì 世界人民大团结万岁). Head up the tower to view the 60 giant wooden beams, the intricate paintwork and a photographic history inside.
Free to pass under in transit to the Forbidden City, the tower will set you back ¥15 to climb up for a view. Tickets can be purchased on the north side of the tower.