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  • Writer's pictureDia KL

Tiananmen Gate and the Imperial Ancestral Temple - Beijing, China (2011)

Updated: Feb 23, 2023 was a beautiful garden with almost no people so I decided to sit down for a bit and enjoy...

Touched down in Beijing airport, immigration this time was extremely fast and straight forward, no questions at all, just a photo and an entry stamp. Customs even better, nobody there to ask anything, just go through the "nothing to declare gate". The bus to the city costed just 16 (€1,72 based to the exchange rate back then).

Later on, in the metro, 2 (€0.21) ticket, there was an x-ray check and the girl was concerned about my shaving foam. No sprays allowed and my foam looked like a spray, I thought it was about my stuff or tripod being mistaken as a weapon... I take it out of the bag and she takes it to examine. Smiling, I take it back and put some foam on my hand making gestures that this is for shaving. She understood and nodded that it was alright. Beijing metro is clean, efficient and really nice. All in English as well, pretty crowded but without any problems. Going out of the metro (Huixinxijienankou station), the street in front of me had 6 lanes for each direction a total of 12 lanes (?!?!). Amazing!!! Lots of bicycles go around and many people with some kind of mini weird moto-bike which I had never seen again. After a moment I asked a guy if he knew where to find a place to buy a sim card, but he insisted on calling Tian (my host in Beijing) from his mobile, so nice of him!! Being settled, I set off for a walk.

The whole area around Tiananmen square is very interesting, I started from Tiananmen gate (天安门) which translates into "Gate of Heavenly Peace". First built during the Ming Dynasty in 1420, Tiananmen is often mistakenly referred to as the front entrance to the Forbidden City but it is actually the entrance to the Imperial City, within which the Forbidden City was located. 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. A huge portrait of Mao (which weighs 1.5 tonnes) is on the gate.

There were endless people going around and many of them posed for a photograph with the portrait of Mao. A young con-artist approached me with his offers to go together to art exhibitions but I shoved him off politely with a white lie that I've been living in China and I know his tricks (learned that from India hehe).

A father with his child having a good time

Two girls posing for a photo with the portrait of Mao.

I walked a bit eastwards, went through a door with a 2 entrance and found myself in the Working People's Cultural Palace. With a beautiful park (where I decided to chill for a while, the photo on top), temples, structures and... no people?!?! Amazing! Guess everybody was busy visiting the Forbidden city so they overlooked this place just next to it. A few old folks around and then out of the blue I see women with traditional costumes, wedding dresses and photographers... seems that the place is popular for wedding photography.

The Halberd gate, a traditional Chinese building with its low bridges.

A music track came to my mind, "Nine million bicycles" (in Beijing) by Katie Melua.

The Imperial Ancestral Temple, or Taimiao (), where during both the Ming and Qing Dynasties, sacrificial ceremonies were held on the most important festival occasions in honor of the imperial family's ancestors.

The temple, which resembles the Forbidden City's ground plan, is a cluster of buildings in three large courtyards separated by walls. The main hall inside the temple is the Hall for Worship of Ancestors, which is one of only four buildings in Beijing to stand on a three-tiered platform, a hint that it was the most sacred site in imperial Beijing. It contains seats and beds for the tablets of emperors and empresses, as well as incense burners and offerings. On the occasion of large-scale ceremonies for worship of ancestors, the emperors would come here to participate.

Beautiful details on the temples' rooftop edge.

Ladies getting ready for the photo shooting.

The guy in the suit was not bored at all, no no... :D

After going all around stairs and different angles I managed to get her face through the opening.

Oups, I've been spotted by the bride! But she smiled :)

Was a pleasure to go around the empty places, I was the only one around!

By the 1920s, the Imperial Ancestral Temple and its surrounding spaces had become a public park, then the public park expanded from its original size and all together came to be known as the Working People's Cultural Palace.

Lastly, I close this post with this guy who was sitting next to me in the Aeroflot flight to Beijing. Had a nice seat but a Chinese girl asked me if its possible to change seat so she could sit with her boyfriend, I agreed. Then besides me there were two Russian guys, one 30 years old with 2 kids who had a a bottle of whisky, mixing it with cola and drinking non stop. After a bit he was totally drunk and was asking me all kinds of hilarious stuff, didn't speak that good English, comments on my smiles exchange with a stewardess and after he collapsed into sleep, I hardly tried to keep him off me. The stewardess happened to be very nice, we talked about Russia, traveling, her job, she was Natalya from a small village near the Urals. She apologized I had to experience sitting side by side with a Russian guy like that... later on the guy was so wasted that he leaned on my seat and me, so I stood up a bit, took a photo (below) and had a chat with Natalya again. Going back to my seat I was shocked to see the drunk guy trying to stretch by putting his legs through the empty space of the front seats and hitting the front guy on his face with his shoe!!! LMAO!!! I try to put him back while another tourist, an elder guy sitting on the other side of the row looks shocked... you gotta love these long Aeroflot flights :D

Additional information

GPS coordinates for places in this post, click on them to be redirected to the exact point in google maps. Click on the names to be redirected to their official websites (if applicable).

Tiananmen gate, Mao portrait: 39°54'31.4"N 116°23'50.9"E

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