Hutong is a type of narrow roads, or alleys mainly existed in Beijing, China. Initially built from Yuan Dynasty (1271 AD), Hutong has been a typical representative of China’s traditional neighborhood and architectural art. When taking a bird's eye view of Beijing, you will find the combination of hutongs and courtyards just like an orderly chessboard with delicate gardens, fine rockeries, and ancient ruins.
Why the Beijing Hutong is special
As the symbol of Beijing City, a hutong has its own layout and structure, which makes it a wonder in the world. Hutongs have witnessed the development of Beijing. Where there is a hutong, there is a story. Hutong is known as one of the “most favorable places to go” in Beijing.
Beijing Hutong highlights
Like how people regard the Forbidden City as the symbol of China's royal family, the Hutongs represent the traditional life of old Beijing citizens. Behind the walls of Hutong are the Si-He-Yuans, which comprise several low buildings grouped around one or more central courtyards with one main gateway and a secondary back door. The buildings were subject to traditional Chinese building regulations, to indicate the dignity of old regime. Traditional Beijing citizen’s life style is also well preserved in the Hutong areas. Local residents enjoy a peaceful life away from the hustle and bustle world outside. The winding and narrow Hutongs are also a perfect place for children to play traditional Chinese games include rubber-band skipping, kicking shuttlecocks, and hide-and-seek.
In the recent years, the historic value and cultural value preserved in Hutong residence began to be noticed by some business people, and Hutong initially became a tourism resource. Its “core selling point” is the old and traditional Beijing culture. Among the countless Hutongs in Beijing, Shi Cha Hai and Nanluoguxiang are the mostly visited two. Shichahai is one of the typical Hutong in Beijing. Shichahai is located to the north of the Forbidden City beside the Shicha Lake. In this area, where is the central of Beijing city, it comprises outer grey brick walls and red-painted beams. Golden pillars and green decorative are usual architectural decoration; dragons and phoenixes are decorated only for rich family, meaning good fortune and high social status; stone lion stand outside the entrance to expel evil things. All of these symbols make Shi Cha Hai to be a folk museum of Beijing traditional culture.