Zhengyang Gate, commonly known as the Front Gate (Qianmen), is located in the central south of Tian'anmen Square in Beijing. It was first built in the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle in 1419 and was called Lizhengmen (Lizheng Gate) at that time. Zhengyang Gate was the front gate of the inner city of Beijing during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) period. Since it was located in front of the Forbidden City, so it was also called Front Gate (Qian Men).
Zhengyang Gate was one of the nine capital gates of the old Beijing city. It was an intact defending architecture system in ancient time and composed of three parts that were the city gate tower, the watchtower and the inner city. However, Zhengyang Gate has under many damages and repairs during the past half-century, only the city gate tower and the watchtower are well preserved at present, and these two buildings were once the symbol of the old Beijing city.
With 40.36-meter high, 41-meter wide and 21-meter deep, the city gate tower has a solid base and is trimmed with gray pantiles and green glazed tiles in the double-eave and Xieshan style. The watchtower was built in 1439 during the Ming Dynasty in a style resembling that of the city gate tower. Altogether there are 94 embrasures open to the east, west and south sides. The watchtower totally has three doors, four floors with five mansions in the rear. The total height of the watchtower with its platform is 38 meters, which makes the watchtower the highest one among those in Beijing. On the first floor, an exhibition named Beijing in History introduces the folk customs of Beijing.
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