Archives For Hutong
Foreigners living in and traveling to Beijing frequent areas like Qian’men, Sanlitun and Houhai for shopping, drinking and other fun activities. However, there are many somewhat hidden places that have much to offer like Nanluoguxiang located in the Dongcheng District near the Drum Tower (GuLou 鼓楼).
Nanluoguxiang is a traditional-style hutong (alley) that has been renovated and filled with small shops, cafes, hostels and bars. It attracts both young and old, Chinese and foreigners with its range of offerings. A few of my favorite places around Nanluoguxiang are C Rock Record Shop (located on Gulou East Ave), Plastered T-Shirts, The Pass By Bar and 12SQM Bar. If you’re shopping for a more alternative, hipper style this area is perfect with a lot of music inspired clothing.
While Nanluoguxiang’s tourist traffic has dramatically increased over the past few years, the quint feel of this hutong and others around it are still perfect for a weekend stroll. For more pictures, please see our Nanluoguxiang photo album.
(Blog contributed by TheBJReviewer on July 5, 2011)
Hutongs, narrow lanes or alleys lines by courtyard housing, form traditional residential fabric in the historic center of Beijing. The Hutong — the term is derived from the Mongolian word hottog (water well) — came into being during the Yuan dynasty (1271 to 1368), when China was absorbed into the Mongol Empire. Most of Beijing’s remaining Hutongs date back to the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644), which established Beijing as its capital city in 1421 on the site of the original Yuan capital.
Hutongs are small alley ways or lanes surrounding the Forbidden City in the old section of Beijing that are hundreds of years old. These hutongs provide a tantalizing insight into life in ancient Beijing and a glimpse of modern Beijing’s traditional life.
A typical residence in ancient Beijing was a walled compound with a courtyard yard in the center that was surrounded by living quarters that were built against the north east and west walls of the compound. The southern wall of the compound was the gateway and entrance to the residence. Typically one family of at least three generations lived in a residence and the courtyard was the focus point of the family.
A hutong is formed by a row of these traditional residences the same way a suburban street is formed by a row of houses and yards. The residences faced south for better light and heat so hutongs normally run on a east to west axis.