This is one of the eeriest experiences in Beijing. The decision to preserve Mao's body was made hours after his death in 1976. Panicked and inexperienced, his doctors reportedly pumped him so full of formaldehyde his face and body swelled almost beyond recognition. They drained the corpse and managed to get it back into acceptable shape, but they also created a wax model of the Great Helmsman just in case. There's no telling which version -- the real or the waxen -- is on display at any given time. The mausoleum itself was built in 1977, near the center of Tian'an Men Square. However much Mao may be mocked outside his tomb (earnest arguments about whether he was 70% right or 60% right are perhaps the biggest joke), he still commands a terrifying sort of respect inside it. It's not quite the kitsch experience some expect. The tour is free and fast, with no stopping, photos, or bags allowed inside. Note: The mausoleum was being renovated at time of writing, but should be finished by the time you read this.
- © Frommer's 2013
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Ask Beijing Locals about Chairman Mao's Mausoleum (Mao Zhuxi Jinian Guan)
- tel: 010/6513-2277
- South end of Tian'an Men Sq
- Mon-Sat 8-11:30am; sometimes also 2-4pm (usually Tues and Thurs)
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