Chairman Mao Memorial Hall – Beijing, China - Atlas Obscura
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Beijing, China

Chairman Mao Memorial Hall

The embalmed remains of the communist leader lie within a custom crystal coffin. 

This stately mausoleum is the final resting place of Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Communist Party of China for three decades until his death in 1976. His embalmed remains lie inside a crystal coffin, despite his wishes to be cremated.

Creating the crystal coffin was no easy task. At the time, the country’s sour relationship with the Soviet Union meant Chinese officials couldn’t tap into any of the Soviet’s well-guarded manufacturing secrets. Instead, the government held a clandestine country-wide competition to create a casket for the Mao, using various code names for the endeavor.

They viewed dozens of submissions before finally settling on the one that holds the mummified communist leader. Each one was put through the ringer as it was tested against variables like temperature, vibration, and its ability to withstand an earthquake.

The building the crystal coffin and its embalmed inhabitant reside in is also impressive, especially considering it was built in only six months. Materials from all across China were used to make it, and 700,000 workers from different provinces, autonomous regions, and nationalities did “symbolic voluntary labor” to get it all finished. Art in and around the hall pays tribute to various revolutionary leaders.

Know Before You Go

You will be required show a valid Identification document like a passport or PRC ID card. Foreign objects (bags, cameras, etc) cannot be brought into the hall and must be left in the bag office. Wear modest clothing and be very quiet and respectful, especially in the main chamber. Special occasions may cause the hall to be very busy or closed.

The Hall can be accessed by Subway:
Subway Line 1: get off at Tiananmen East or Tiananmen West Station, and Chairman Mao Memorial Hall is to the south.
Subway Line 2: get off at Qianmen Station, and Chairman Mao Memorial Hall is to the north.