This gate is the largest in what was once known as the Imperial City and the most emblematic of Chinese government grandeur. Above the central door, once reserved for the emperor, now hangs the famous portrait of Mao, flanked by inscriptions that read: LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (left) and LONG LIVE THE GREAT UNITY OF THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD (right). Mao declared the founding of the People's Republic from atop the gate on October 1, 1949. There is no charge to walk through, but tickets are required if you want to ascend to the upper platform for worthwhile views of Tian'an Men Square. You might imagine yourself as the Great Helmsman addressing a sea of Red Guards, all struggling to understand your thick Hunan accent while waving your little red book. Note the pair of huabiao (ornamental columns) topped with lions, wreathed in dragons and clouds, and facing the square. In their original form, huabiao were wooden posts in the shapes of a battle-axes, upon which subjects would attach petitions or scrawl their grievances to the king. Over time, their function was reversed. Turned to stone and wreathed in the ultimate symbol of the emperor's mandate -- the dragon -- they became a warning to the ruled to keep out. Tip: If you're traveling in a group of two or more, split up and have one person line up to buy tickets and the other queue to check bags; you'll save yourselves both time and frustration.