Experience Chinese culture through 10 most famous Beijing hutongs

Update:26 Apr 2011
1. Nanluoguxiang

Between Di'anmendong Avenue and Gulou Avenue, this north-south street is located in the northern part of the Dongcheng District. Next to the Forbidden City and Houhai, Nanluoguxiang is the most famous and popular hutong in Beijing.

The hutong, first built in the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), has a history of more than 700 years. It extends over 1000 meters and boasts different kinds of courtyard houses (Si he yuan) and shops, selling unique and elaborate knickknacks. There are also many restaurants, cafes and bars around the hutong, attracting thousands of visitors and locals everyday.

Travel tips:
Surrounding attractions: Houhai Lake, Shichahai Lake, Gongwangfu Garden
Bus Lines: Bus 5, 60, 82, 107, 124 to Gulou, or bus 13, 118, 612, 823 to Luoguxiang

2. Yandaixie Street

Yandaixie Street, literally meaning "Skewed Tobacco Pouch Street", is located in the north of Xicheng District. About 300 meters long, the street starts from Di'anmen Avenue in the east and ends at Shichahai Lake in the west.

The street originally got its name due to its shape, which resembles a huge tobacco pouch. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), many tobacco stores opened there. Today, visitors wandering along the street still can find many stores selling tobacco pouches, antiques and all kinds of souvenirs.

Travel tips:
Surrounding attractions: Drum Tower, former residence of Guo Moruo
Bus Lines: Bus 5, 60, 82, 107, 124 to Gulou.

3. Mao'er Hutong

Running west to east from Di'anmenwai Avenue to Nanluoguxiang, Mao'er Hutong is situated in the Dongcheng District. First built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the hutong contains many traditional private gardens and famous former residences.

Mao'er Hutong Nos. 7, 9 and 11 are the former house of Wen Yu, a civilian officer of the Qing Dynasty; the No.13 courtyard house is the former residence of Feng Guozhang, one of the major Chinese warlords in the early 20th century, and No. 35 and 37 are the former residence of Wan Rong, the empress of the last Qing Emperor, Pu Yi.

Travel tips:

Surrounding attractions: Nanluoguxiang, former residence of Mao Dun
Bus Lines: Bus 13, 42, 118, 612, 623, 701 to Di'anmendong.

4. Guozijian Street

Starting from Yonghegong Avenue in the east to Andingmennei Avenue in the west, Guozijian Street is located in the northwest of Dongcheng District. It is the only hutong in Beijing to feature ancient archways.

The street gets its name from the Guozijian House, which is the home of the Imperial College during the Yuan (1206–1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Now, visitors still can find many interesting antique stores, tea houses and traditional shops on the street. And because the street lies next to the Lama Temple, the perfumed scent of burning incense fills the air, making the street seem both classical and mysterious.

Travel tips:

Surrounding attractions: Yonghegong Lama Temple, Guozijian House
Bus Lines: Bus 13, 684 to Guozijian, or bus 116, 117 to Yonghegong;
Subway Line 2 to Yonghegong, Exit C.

5. Liulichang Street

As a famous cultural relics street, Liulichang is located in the south of Xicheng District. It is one of the largest antique markets in China and a great place to go for the traditional "four treasures of the study": calligraphy brushes, ink, paper and ink stones.

In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), many businessmen and vendors began to sell curios and old books there. Over the years, it was gradually replaced by a bazaar of calligraphy, painting, artifacts and so on. The China Bookstore, Rongbaozhai, Laixunge, and Yidege are the most famous antique stores in Liulichang.

Travel tips: Surrounding attractions: Changdian, old house of Ji Xiaolan
Bus Lines: Bus 6, 102, 106, 109, 603 to Liulichang;
Subway Line 2 to Hepingmen, Exit D1 or D2.

6. Jinyu Hutong

Situated at the Dongcheng District, Jinyu Hutong connects Dongdanbei Avenue to the east with Wangfujing Avenue in the west. Lying next to the commercial area of Wangfujing, the hutong lies next to big brand hotels and large shopping centers.

The Jixiang Theater is one of the most famous scenic spots in Jinyu Hutong. It was built as a tea house at the north gate of the old Dong'an market in 1906 and is considered a symbol of the Beijing Opera.

Travel tips:
Surrounding attractions: Wangfujing Avenue, St. Joseph's Wangfujing Church
Bus Lines: Bus 103, 104, 108, 111, 420, 614 to Dengshixikou;
Subway Line 5 to Dengshikou, Exit C.

7. Dongjiaominxiang

Extending from East Tian'anmen Square Road in the west to Chongwenmennei Avenue in the east, Dongjiaominxiang, over 3,000 meters long, is the longest hutong in Beijing and was called Beijing's "Embassy Row" in the early 20th century.

After the Opium Wars in the 1840s, Britain, Russia, Germany and France established embassies along this road. Its unique history has left the area with unique buildings exhibiting diverse architectural styles. Dongjiaominxiang was Beijing's diplomatic center for over 170 years.

Travel tips:
Surrounding attractions: Tian'anmen Square, Dongjiaominxiang Church, Laoshe Tea House
Bus Lines: Bus 9, 673, 692, 723, 729 to Chongwenmenxi;

Subway Line 2 to Qianmen, Exit A.

8. Xijiaominxiang

Next to Tian'anmen and Qianmen, Xijiaominxiang is located in the southern part of Xicheng District. Winding about 1,000 meters long and 10 meters wide, Xijiaominxiang is larger than the average hutong and has a unique history.

Xijiaominxiang was first built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), but became prominent about 100 years ago when several domestic and overseas banks chose to open in that location, making it the city's original financial street. Visitors can still see the architecture of old banks there, including the former sites of the Central Bank, China Agriculture and Industry Bank and Mainland Bank.

Travel tips:
Surrounding attractions: Tian'anmen Square, Qianmen Street, China Numismatic Museum
Bus Lines: Bus 9, 44, 67, 301, 608, 673, 901 to Qianmenxi;
Subway Line 2 to Hepingmen, Exit B1.

9. Ju'er Hutong

Located in northwest Dongcheng District, Ju'er Hutong is bordered by Jiaodaokou South Road to the east and Nanluoguxiang to the west. It was first built in the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368) and is more than 400 meters long.

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Ju'er Hutong was a gathering place for people of the Xiang Huang Division (an upper class group of the eight divisions commanded by the emperor). And No. 3, 5 and 7 houses are the former residence of Rong Lu, a provincial governor and right-hand man of Empress Dowager Cixi.

Travel tips:
Surrounding attractions: Nanluoguxiang, Yonghegong Lama Temple
Bus Lines: Bus 104, 108, 113, 612, 758 to Jiaodaokounan.

10. Bada Hutong

Bada Hutong, which literally means the "eight great" hutongs, consists of Baishun, Yanzhi, Hanjia, Shaaxixiang, Shitou, Wangguangfuxiejie, Zhujia, Lishamao and several other hutongs. They are situated closely around the bustling Dashila area of Xicheng District.

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Bada Hutong was notorious as the city's biggest "red light district", housing more than 2,000 brothels. The structure of each brothel varied, and all were different from ordinary houses. After 1949, many brothels were turned into hotels and/or residences.

Travel tips:
Surrounding attractions: Dashila, Qianmen Street, Liulichang
Bus Lines: Bus 5, 23, 34, 48, 57, 715 to Hufangqiaolukoudong.
SOURCE: China.org.cn
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