Hutong

 

Location: Everywhere in Beijing

Reasons to visit: Beijing authentic culture and history are lying here

Our ratings: ★★★★

 

Hutong are a type of narrow street or alley commonly associated with northern Chinese cities, especially Beijing. There are more than 7000 Hutongs in Beijing; most of them are surprisingly well ordered either oriented East-West or North-South to comply with Feng-shui custom. But do not think exploring Beijing Hutongs is an easy thing. In fact, Hutongs are an irregular maze, ranging from only 40 centimeter to 10 meter in width, and the longest one has more than 20 turns. Explore Beijing Hutong is a challenge to you if you do not know the landform.

Since the mid-20th century, a large number of Beijing hutongs were demolished to make way for new roads and buildings. More recently, however, many hutongs have been designated as protected, in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history. Hutongs were first established in the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) and then expanded in the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties.

To be honest, as long as you are willing to explore several Hutongs and chat with local tenants for a while, you will find every Hutong has its own legendary stories.

 

Hutong's Culture

Hutongs represent an important cultural element of the city of Beijing. Thanks to Beijing's long history and status as capital for six dynasties, almost every hutong has its anecdotes, and some are even associated with historic events. In contrast to the court life and elite culture represented by the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven, the hutongs reflect the culture of grassroots Beijingers. The hutongs are residential neighborhoods which still form the heart of Old Beijing.

To be honest, as long as you are willing to explore several Hutongs and chat with local tenants for a while, you will find every Hutong has its own legendary stories.

 

Famous Hutong in Beijing

1. Nanluoguxiang - one of the most famous Hutong districts in Beijing

Location: Dongcheng District, Beijing

Surrounding attractions: Forbidden City, Houhai Lake, Shichahai Lake, Gongwangfu Garden 

Nanluoguxiang is a very ancient streets of Beijing Dongcheng District. The street in Nanluoguxiang is not wide and remains the planning of streets of Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368). Hutong refer to the old style alleyways where large numbers of one-story courtyard houses are located in Beijing. Many of these areas are now protected in order to preserve their unique architecture. Nanluoguxiang is one of these places, which has proved to be a mix of history, fashion and shops. No wonder it's a big hit with tourists especially the younger generation. Nanluoguxiang is also an ideal place to eat with plenty of different establishments offering western food such as pizza and coffee. Chinese meals are also available. Several shops in the area will catch your attention with many unique gifts such as plates and coasters featuring artistic designs. Nanluoguxiang is an alley of amazement and happiness. If you came to Beijing, make sure don't miss it.

 

2. Yandaixie Street - one of the most age-old streets in Beijing

Location: Xicheng District, Beijing

Surrounding attractions: Drum Tower, Shichahai, Houhai 

Yandaixie Street, built in the Yuan Dynasty, located in the front of the Drum Tower in Beijing Di'anmenwai Avenue, north of the Qianhai Lake in Shichahai area, was the 2nd street to be named " as "China's historical and cultural street" by the Ministry of Culture, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage on November 10, 2010 following Beijing Imperial College Street. It has a total length of about 232 meters and a width of 5-6 meters. This slender and diagonal street just looks like a smoking bar. It is Beijing's oldest commercial street which has numerous hotels, inns and other foreign trade stores. The architectural style here is simple along with characteristics of the northern part of the Beijing city. It is a famous cultural street in the north city of Beijing, where left many cultural celebrities' footprint.

 

3. Mao'er Hutong - the home to many relics, celebrities and stories

Location: In the northwest of Dongcheng District, Beijing

Surrounding attractions: Nanluoguxiang, former residence of Mao Dun 

Mao'er Hutong is a very famous alley among Beijing surviving 25 protected areas in the alley. has a total length of 585 meters, a width of 7 meters. It doesn't have the loneliness of the usual old street and lane; its both ends connect with the bustling streets and cars shuttle inside the alley from time to time. In the dense avenue, the stylish cars and the old tricycle interlace between the red gate and gray walls, which dimly reveals a remarkable status of Mao'er Hutong. Although the centuries-old Mao'er Hutong has experienced destruction by time, the alley is still preserved in its original style. Inside the courtyard, there is always an old tree, or jujube tree, or cypress, or locust tree. In the hot summer, the old people will sit in the shade and shake their hand fans to chat with each other, the children will play at the gate, how happy and leisure such situation is.

 

4. Guozijian Street - the famous "scholarly" hutong in Beijing

Location: In the northwest of Dongcheng District, Beijing

Surrounding attractions: Yonghe Palace, Imperial College (Guozijian), Confucius Temple 

Guozijian Street, or the Imperial College Hutong, famous for the Confucius Temple and Imperial College, is an east-west Hutong and has 700 years of history which remains the old style Beijing alleys. It is one of the first "Chinese historical and cultural street". It is the city's only municipal conservation street which is named after its street name. This ancient street concentrates a large number of historical and cultural heritage of the national heritage conservation units like Imperial College, Confucius Temple, etc. It is also the only street with decorated archway reserved in Beijing city, which concentrates the essence of traditional Chinese culture. With its elegant, quiet, solemn, mysterious environment and the rich historical, cultural connotations, it has become a unique cultural area in Beijing.

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