Beijing … Searching for Hutong

Beautifully carved archway of a Beijing Hutong

If Shanghai is one of China’s most fast growing city, Beijing has managed to retain some of its architectural heritage. I was interested in seeing more of the old style houses during my visit to Beijing, which for the most part have unfortunately been destroyed and replaced by newer housing compounds. Wanting to immerse myself in the “Old China Lifestyle” I choose to stay in a traditional courtyard house transformed into a charming hotel in one of the side streets of the reputed Nan Luo Gu Xiang north of the Forbidden City. Popular with tourists, this area still has many old style buildings which the government knowing the importance for tourists attraction, tries to preserve them. Along this street many of the old houses have been transformed into up market boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops. This is one of the nicest area where you can still find some well preserved Hutongs and elegant courtyard houses with carved entrances and beautiful doors. You can easily explore the area and see some of these houses once belonged to wealthy families or historic figures. In one of the side streets of Nan Luo Gu Xiang, I came across a courtyard house where the wife of the last Emperor Pu Yi used to live before her marriage. Unfortunately most of these houses are closed and if you are lucky to find an open gate, take a quick look inside. In some popular quarters the gates are usually open. You can walk in and have a glimpse of life in a Beijing Hutong and when you do see people washing, cooking, walking in or out with their shopping bags or speeding out with their bicycles, don’t forget to say Ni Haoooo …

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Categories: Beijing

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