The gate was built in 1419. As the principal gate of Beijing’s inner city (which enclosed and was larger than the imperial city) during the Ming and Qing dynasties and one of the nine gates of ancient Beijing, it is higher in ranking than the other eight gates that circle the inner city of ancient Beijing.
The gate and the battlement watchtower standing to the south comprised a complete defensive work.
The battlement watchtower is a brick fortress building and the only one among the nine city gates that is pierced with gateways.
In 1915, the crescent walls and attached structures of the gate were pulled down, leaving only the gate tower and the battlement watchtower.
In 1990, the gate was opened to the public. It is now the only relatively well-preserved city gate of Beijing. Qianmen Street to its south has been a famous and bustling business street since the Ming and Qing dynasties. Numerous time-honored brands along the street attract tourists from China and abroad.