The National Museum of China (中国国家博物馆)
Cramming the oft-quoted ‘5,000 years of Chinese history’ under one roof is a tough task, but this sprawling on the eastern edge of the square does a fine job of it, and more. With nearly 200,000 square metres of exhibition space, it’s the third largest in the world and the permanent home to over a million priceless relics dating back as far as 1.7 million years, and the remains of the prehistoric Yuanmou Man.
Reopened after extensive renovation in 2011, its five floors’ and 48 exhibitions halls’ worth of artefacts take visitors on a journey through a civilisation, witnessing the artworks, implements and inventions that have shaped this nation and the world beyond, including ancient currency, scripts, bronzeware and extravagant imperial jewel collections.
Entrance is free (ID required; closed Mondays), and it’s worth taking a good chunk of time to get around as much as you can – its magnificent size may be overwhelming for even the hungriest of historivores.