Shichahai locates in the northwest part of Beijing, which covers a large area of 146.7 hectares. Shichahai is a famous visiting area in Beijing and includes three lakes: Qianhai (Front Sea), Houhai (Back Sea), and Xihai (Western Sea). There are many historical sites, traditional Chinese residences, hutongs and courtyards in this area, which is a good place to explore the local life and traditional Chinese culture.
History of Shichahai
The history of Shichahai can be traced back to the Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234). At that time, Shichahai was the terminal point of the Great Canal, which was a main reason for the prosperity of the Jin Dynasty. The hutongs and many ancient buildings in Sichahai area were built during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), which had the history of 800 years. At that time, the Mongolians built their capital city in Beijing. Later during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), the area transformed from a busy transportation hub into a place of leisure, where people strolled around to admire the vast scenery.
Up to now, some of the folk activities by local residents can still be seen in Shichahai area, such as fishing, winter swimming, boating, rowing, playing chess, dancing and singing.
What to see in Shichahai area
Today's Shichahai combines classical, traditional and modern elements together, as well as natural landscape and cultural historical sites. It is a good place for visiting the historical architectures, and feeling local residents' recreational life. Visitors can enjoy the boating time on the lake, taking the pedicab car visiting the hutong, or wander along the sides of the lake, or taste the local food of old Beijing.
During the last 200 years, many governmental officers, celebrities, or monks chose to build mansions, and temples here. Many celebrities’ sites in Sichahai area can be visit, including Prince Gong's Mansion (Gong Wang Fu), Price Chun's Mansion (Chun Wang Fu), the Former Residence of Song Qingling, known as the wife of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, and the Former Residence of Mei Lan Fang, a well-known master of Beijing Opera.
Yinding Bridge on the waterway of Shichahai was originally built in the Ming Dynasty and has a history of more than 500 years. Another site close to Shichahai is Yandai Xiejie, which means an oblique street, because the street looks like a long-stemmed pipe. This street used to be a famous street selling long-stemmed pipes, and now it is a place to buy some souvenirs. In the east part near Shaichahai, Nanluoguxiang is also an interesting and well-known hutong, famous for its long history, specialty stores and distinctive Chinese snacks. In the evening, visitors can also go to the famous Shichahai Bar Street, which is one of the most popular places for the nightlife in Beijing.