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"Mao's Mausoleum" Chairman Mao Memorial Hall - Mao's Mausoleum Tip by mafi_moya

  Revolutionary statue outside the Mausoleum
by mafi_moya

Mao is one of the 20th century's most famous icons. His Cultural Revolution murdered thousands, and his economic policies impoverished millions of people, some to the point of starvation. Yet most Chinese believe that although he made many mistakes he still ultimately had the good of the nation at heart. Even the government now accepts that he had his faults, but he's still revered, at times with almost God-like status, nearly 30 years after his death. The esteem in which he's still held is genuine rather than through any political intimidation.

He died in 1976 and his body is kept on public display in his mausoleum at the south end of Tiananmen Square. The mausoleum (much like that of another great Communist figurehead Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi) is a plain grey concrete building that matches its sombre function. Inside you are quickly shepherded round the room in which he lies (encased in a glass box), and then released to hordes of souvenir sellers. The whole experience takes a few minutes, although the queue to get in can take considerably longer.

True to communist principle there is no entrance fee, even for tourists. Bags and cameras are not allowed though and have to be stored across the road in a separate buiding for a small fee. Entrance may be free but there are plenty of ways to spend your money - the more modern China embraces capitalism with a vengeance. Not sure what Mao would have thought of seeing his face on everything from tea towels and keyrings to watches and cigarette packets. Particularly popular with Chinese visitors are bunches of flowers you buy at the entrance and then lay at a memorial. Of course, cynical tourists realise they're then scooped up and re-sold to the next lot of entrants... but it's the gesture that counts!

Address: Tiananmen Square, Dongcheng

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Nov 5, 2003
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