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History and Appearance of Hutong in Beijing

Hutong is one of the culture marks of Beijing and I was interested in it. This time I got the chance to walk through the narrow hutongs (with long history) to experience the real local life in Beijing. My tour began at Old Drum Tower Street and ended to Prince Gong's Mansion (via many historical sites and old hutongs including Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Yandaixiejie, Yinding Bridge).

Bell and Drum Tower in Beijing

Bell and Drum Tower are the two landmarks of old Beijing located in the city center. There are only about 100 meters distance the two towers. The Drum Tower is more beautiful than the Bell Tower. I did not pay 20 yuan for the entrance tickets instead just stand at the foot of the towers and took some panoramic photos. Walk along the street, within 10 minutes, I got to the famous hutong – Yandaixiejie.

Yandaixiejie - Old Hutong with Long History

Yandaixiejie also named as Tobacco Pipe Lane, is one of the oldest streets in Beijing. Ethnic shops and various bars and cafes are opened here which attract lots of tourists from in and abroad. In the past, in this hutong there were only tobacco pouches and smoking sets were sold and nowadays, it has been rebuilt as a commercial street where there are more than 60 stores specializing in the sale of tobacco pipes, lanterns, kites, tea sets, curios, national costumes, folk craftwork and traditional needlework.

Are you fond of the origin of its name Yandaixiejie? Here are two reasons. During the Qing Dynasty, people lived in Beijing liked tobaccos very much, which caused the increasing demand of tobacco pipe. Therefore, more and more tobacco pipe shops were opened in the street. Another reason is that it is said the Yandaixiejie looks like a tobacco pipe in its shape - its gracile street is the tobacco pipe while the entrance in the east end is its mouth and the west entrance is the hollow. Therefore, Yandaixiejie got its name.

At the end of Yandaixiejie there is standing another historical site called Yinding Bridge. In the history, it was very much like a silver ingot upside down, so hence the name. Now it is a narrow channel joining Qianhai Lake and the Houhai Lake, the hub of Shichhai area with surrounding quiet hutongs. Standing on the bridge and viewing the lotus in summer has now become one of the most beautiful scenery in downtown Beijing.

Went on along Qianhai Lake with gentle breeze and wander through hutongs, we got the destination of Prince Gong's Mansion. Along the street, there are a lot of rickshaws for hutong tour. And the drivers will tell you much about the history of the old hutongs.

Essence Tour of Beijing - Follow the Steps of Hutong (2)

Continue last tour guide, we will go on our ancient Beijing tour for this time.

Beijing Dashilan

Line 2: Xijiaominxiang – Dashilan Street – Zhushikou – Liulichang Street
Xijiaominxiang, located at south of Xicheng District in Beijing, starts from Tiananmen Square in east to Qianmen in west, turn south, you will get to the Dashilan Street. After rebuilt, Dashilan has no old-fashioned place, but some small hutongs, located west of Dashilan Street, keep many the original feelings of Dashilan.

Along with Qianmen Street to south, you will arrive at Zhushikou West Street. Passed the Catholic Church, Fengze Garden, Former Residence of Ji Xiaolan, Huguang Guild Hall, etc, turn north, and you arrive at Xinhua Street. After walking distance in 700 meters, you can find the Liulichang Street, which is a famous cultural street. Many shops here sell the four stationery treasures of the Chinese study. Constructions on each side are all the Chinese classic construction with obvious features of time. Walking along this old street, you have chance to talk with the shop owners and hear some old stories about this street.

Beijing Nanluoguxiang

Line 3: Juer Hutong – Nanluoguxiang
Located at Jiaodaokou South Street, Juer Hutong has a mansion of Rong Lu, who was the governor university in Qing Dynasty. With white wall and black tiles, the courtyard has the feelings of perfect combination of southern and northern. Out of the west of Juer Hutong, you will arrive at Nanluoguxiang, which has 8 hutongs in west and east arranged tidily. In recent years, more and more bars and creative shops appeared in Nanluoguxiang. After Salitun and Shi Cha Hai, Nanluoguxiang has become the third famous bar street in Beijing. Riding from south to north, you can explore the history and flourishing of Nanluoguxiang.

Beijing Longfu Temple

Line 4: Donghuamen – Nanchizi – Pudu Temple – Huangchenggen Street – Dengshikou – Fuqiang Hutong – Dongchang Hutong – Longfu Temple – Dongsi – Neiwubu Street – Lumicang Hutong
It is worth to visit the hutongs in Dongcheng District. There are various rich family in ancient times, so some courtyards has kept the ancient style, even though many of them has been used as the residences of ordinary people. Without the glory of ancient times, these courtyards still have some feelings of rich people and celebrities from the stone lions in front of gate. May be just the old tree in yard has memory about this courtyard in ancient times. The Imperial Palace Wall Relics Park, rebuilt by government, has comfortable environment. At weekend, you will find many people take exercise or playing here.

The essence tour of ancient Beijing is suspended now, but the cultural and historical deposits of ancient Beijing have been continued from generation to generation.

Essence Tour of Beijing - Follow the Steps of Hutong

When the traffic jam, vehicle exhaust and no parking lot affect the convenient and mood of driving, bike, the once outdated transportation media, nobly become the favorite choice of trip and leisure under the call of low-carbon lifestyle.

Low-carbon times, riding bike for trip is an ideal choice. No matter the locals or guests, prepare or rent a bike to visit the hutong in inner of Beijing in leisurely time, you will have better feelings. Parking in the front of some interesting shops, choosing the wonderful goods or taste the local snacks, you are harvest enough in this special Beijing tour. Follow us quickly!

Essence of Beijing - Hutong

Beijing, the gathering place of hutong, has various famous and non-famous hutongs. The composition of chess game and the laugh of aunts are the sceneries in hutongs forever. In the courtyards of hutongs, always there are old trees and do not know how old they are, may be the jujube tree, cypress or Chinese scholar tree. When the sun is shining brightly, aged people talked with each other and kids playing around this tree. I guess, it is happiness for most of ordinary people.

Start from North Street of Dianmenwai, you can visit the Drum and Bell Tower first. Walking south along with the Drum and Bell Tower, you will find the Yandaixiejie, the oldest oblique street in Beijing, located at north of Dianmen, about 230 meters in length. You could not belittle the short street, it gathers various characteristic shops, restaurants and wine bars. They decorate this street livelier.

Yinding Bridge

Out of Yandaixiejie, it is the famous Yindingqiao Bridge. It is said that you can see the distance Xishan Mountain in fine day. That is one of the Yanjing Eight Scenes. Pass the Yindingqiao Bridge, you should have good time among hutongs in Shi Cha Hai area. Built depend on the terrain, these hutong is natural. Anyone courtyard here, you could find the historical site easily.

Riding the bike, you are leisurely in lively hutongs, to enjoy the sunshine and strong Beijing culture in the air, and surrounding your soul.

Wandering in these hutongs, you are lucky to find many interesting things and delicious tastes. Just walking and wandering, you have good time in afternoon of Beijing…

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