Front Gate actually consists of two gates. The northernmost is the 40m-high Zhèngyáng Gate (正阳门城楼; Zhèngyáng Mén Chénglóu), which dates from the Ming dynasty and which was the largest of the nine gates of the Inner City Wall separating the inner, or Tartar (Manchu) city from the outer, or Chinese city. Partially destroyed in the Boxer Rebellion around 1900, the gate was once flanked by two temples that have since vanished. With the disappearance of the city walls, the gate sits out of context, but it can be climbed for decent views of the square and of Arrow Tower, immediately to the south.
Inside the upper levels are some fascinating historical photographs , showing the area as it was at the beginning of the last century, before the city walls and many of the surrounding gates and temples were demolished. Explanatory captions are in English as well as Chinese.
Zhèngyáng Gate Arrow Tower (正阳门箭楼; Zhèngyángmén Jiànlóu), directly south, can’t be climbed. It also dates from the Ming dynasty and was originally connected to Zhèngyáng Gate by a semicircular enceinte (demolished last century).