Hutong of Beijing

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Hutongs are a type of narrow streets or alleys, most commonly associated with Beijing, China. In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences.Many neighbourhoods were formed by joining one siheyuan to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another. The word hutong is also used to refer to such neighbourhoods.

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Beijinig Hutong
Beijinig Hutong

Since the mid-20th century, the number of Beijing hutongs has dropped dramatically as they are demolished to make way for new roads and buildings. More recently, some hutongs have been designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history.

Beijinig Hutong
Beijinig Hutong

During China's dynastic period, emperors planned the city of Beijing and arranged the residential areas according to the social classes of the Zhou Dynasty (1027-256 BC). The term "hutong", originally meaning "water wells",appeared first during the Yuan Dynasty, and it is believed to be a term of Mongol language origin.

Beijinig Hutong
Beijinig Hutong

In the Ming Dynasty (early 15th century) the center was the Forbidden City, surrounded in concentric circles by the Inner City and Outer City. Citizens of higher social status were permitted to live closer to the center of the circles. Aristocrats lived to the east and west of the imperial palace. The large siheyuan of these high-ranking officials and wealthy merchants often featured beautifully carved and painted roof beams and pillars and carefully landscaped gardens. The hutongs they formed were orderly, lined by spacious homes and walled gardens. Farther from the palace, and to its north and south, were the commoners, merchants, artisans, and laborers. Their siheyuan were far smaller in scale and simpler in design and decoration, and the hutongs were narrower.

Beijinig Hutong
Beijinig Hutong
Where to see Hutong?
Hutongs in Qianmen Area: Hutongs in the north of Qianmen are expanse and uniform but hutongs in its south are narrow and irregular. During Qing Dynasty (1636-1911), the government restricted the immigrants to enter the city, so those immigrants centralized in Qianmen and Chongwenmen area. After a long time, the shopping centers and leisure centers are formed in the area from which the unique Hutong culture gradually started.

Jiuwan Hutong, regarded as the Hutong with most turns, is located at the Qianmen Street. The Hutong has more than 13 turns; Qianshi Hutong is the narrowest Hutong in Qianmen area, the narrowest part has only 40cm; Sanmiao Hutong, the oldest Hutong, is also sit in the area.

Hutongs in East Side City: The famous and popular Hutong - Nanluoguxiang (South Luogu Lane) is situated in east side city. It is an 800-meter long North-South alleyway with cafes, bars, and shops all designed in classical Chinese "hutong" style. With a history of over 800 years, Nanluoguxiang has become a hotspot of attraction reported by Fashion magazine. With a length of 6.5km (4.04 miles), the longest Hutong of Beijing-Dongjiaomin and Xijiaomin Hutong is also located here.

Hutongs in West Side City: Shichahai area is surrounded with exquisite Hutongs like Yandaixie Street (Tobacco Pipe Lane); Ethnic shops and various bars and cafes are opened here which attract lots of tourists from in and abroad. Besides it, other Hutongs such as Lingjing Hutong, Xiaoxiangfeng Hutong, Houjing Hutong, etc are worth to visit.

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