The Tiananmen, Tian'anmen or Gate of Heavenly Peace is a famous monument in Beijing
, the capital of the People's Republic of China
. It is widely used as a national symbol. First built during the Ming Dynasty in 1420, Tiananmen is often referred to as the front entrance to the Forbidden City
. However, the Meridian Gate
is the first entrance to the Forbidden City proper, while Tiananmen was the entrance to the Imperial City, within which the Forbidden City was located. Tiananmen is located to the north of Tiananmen Square
, across the street from the plaza from Chang'an Avenue
The building is 66 m long, 37 m wide and 32 m high. Like other official buildings of the empire, the gate has unique imperial roof decorations.In front of the gate are two lions standing in front of the gate and two more guarding the bridges. In Chinese culture, lions are believed to protect humans from evil spirits.Two stone columns, called huabiao , each with an animal on top of it, also stand in front of the gate. Originally, these installations were designed for commoners to address their grievances by writing or sticking up petitions on the columns. However, the examples in front of the Imperial City were purely decorative and instead connoted the majesty of the imperial government.
The western and eastern walls have giant placards; the left one reads "Long Live the People's Republic of China" while the right one reads "Long Live the Great Unity of the World
's Peoples". The right placard used to read "Long Live the Central People's Government" on the founding ceremony of the PRC, but after the ceremony it was changed to "Long Live the Great Unity of the World's Peoples". Both placards are written in simplified Chinese instead of traditional Chinese characters in 1964. The phrasing has significant symbolic meaning, as the phrase used for long live, like the palace itself, was traditionally reserved for Emperors of China, but is now available to the common people.