The heart of Beijing is the massive Tiananmen Square, one of the
largest public spaces in the world and scene of the brutal
crackdown in 1989. Chairman Mao proclaimed the birth of People's
Republic of China here in 1949 in front of half a million people,
and his body lies in state in a massive mausoleum that is still
visited by thousands every day. Capitalism may be in place in all
but name, but there is still reverence for the founder of the
communist state - Mao's giant portrait also hangs over the entrance
to the fascinating Forbidden City, the main residence for a
succession of pre-Maoist leaders of equally dubious moral
certitude, the dynastic emperors.
Meanwhile the Great Wall - despite clichéd descriptions to the
contrary - is categorically not visible from space, but remains one
of the most impressive feats of human endeavor and well worth a
visit. We can recommend several parts of the wall worth exploration
and within striking distance of the city.