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Hutong and Siheyuan

For those who want to experience the local customs as well as the history and culture of Beijing, the Hutong and Siheyuan are indispensable parts
of a visit as unique Beijing architectural structures. Hu tong in Beijing

Hutong is an ancient city alley or lane typical in Beijing. Many of them were built during the Yuan
(1206-1341), Ming (1368-1628) and Qing (1644-1908) Dynasties surrounding the Forbidden
City. During these dynasties, the emperors planned the city and arranged the residential areas
according to the etiquette systems of the Zhou Dynasty to establish supreme power.

Most of the Hutong in Beijing are in east-west or south-north directions. That has resulted from
the need for houses to face south so as to take in more sunshine. The shortest Hutong is just
10 meters long, and the narrowest Hutong is only about 40 centimeters wide, some Hutong
have more than 20 turns.

Hutong means street, lane and alley, and is in fact the passage formed by lines of Siheyuan
where most Beijing residents live. Siheyuan in Chinese, refers to a square or rectangular
courtyard compound usually with four houses built on each side. It is a typical example of Northern Chinese residential architecture. Four houses
arranged on each side with an interior courtyard symbolize the union of the family. Architectural designs of unique roof decorations, elaborate wood
and stone carvings and vividly colored paintings make the Siheyuan a museum of traditional Chinese culture.

Si He Yuan BeijingNot only residences but also ancient palaces, government offices, temples and monasteries
were built basically on the pattern of the Siheyuan, a common feature of traditional Chinese

Nowadays, Hutong and Siheyuan have a very special and important position. It is not only a kind
of architecture, but also serves as a window into Beijing folk life and the encyclopedia of the
history and culture of Beijing.


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