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Home >> China City Guide >> Beijing >> Hutong - Beijing travel information and tours



Hutong, Beijing

Hutong refers to the ancient alleys and lanes typical in Beijing. It is a term passed down from history, believed to be a Monglian word from the times of Changkis Kan, who built Beijing as the capital of the Mongolian Empire (1206-1341).

Hutong runs into several thousand, surrounding the magnificent royal tempeles and palaces in Beijing, quietly demonstrating the life of grass-root people in this ancient city through the history.

One kind of hutong, usually referred to as the regualr hutong, was near the palace to the east and west and arranged in order fashion along the streets. Most of the residents of these hutongs were imperial kinsmen and aristocrats. Another kind, the simple and crude hutong, was mostly located far to the north and south of the palace. The residents were merchants and other ordinary people.

The main buildings in the hutong were Si He Yuan - a building complex formed by four houses around a quadrangular courtyard. The quadrangles varied in varied in size and design according to the social status of the residents. The big quadrangles of high-ranking officials and wealthy merchants were specially built with roof beams and pillars all beautifully carved and painted, each with a front yard and back yard. However,the ordinary people's quadrangles were simple built with small gates and low house. hutongs, in fact, are passgeways formed by many closely arranged quadrangles of different sizes. The specially built quadrangles all face the south for better lighting; as a result, a lot of hutongs run from east to west. Between the big hutongs many small ones went north and south for convenient passage.

Unfortunately, the Hutong receding fast into the history as the city becomes a modern metropolitan. In time many Hutongs have been pulled down and replaced by modern buildings. Quadrangles previously owned by one family became a compound occupied by many households and the conditions of the hutong are getting deteriorated.

However, in the urban district of Beijing houses along hutongs still occupy one third of the total area, providing housing for half the population, so many hutongs survied. In this repect, we see the old in the new in Beijing as an ancient yet modern city.

Beijing Travel Attractions
Badaling Great Wall
Forbidden City
Tian'anmen Square
Summer Palace
Temple of Heaven
Ming Tombs
Mutianyu Great wall
Beijing Hutong
Beijing Roasted Duck
Yonghegong Temple
Beihai Park
Beijing Zoo
Beijing Opera
Confucian Temple
Jinshanling Greatwall
Simatai Great Wall
Fragrant Hills
Shichahai & Hutong
Tanzhe Temple
White Cloud Temple
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