“Exploring Beijing’s Hutongs: Hundreds of Years of History,” published at Universia Study Abroad Blogs on Feb. 18, 2013
One of the unique features of Beijing, due to its long history as a cultural center of China, is Beijing’s long and winding neighborhoods of hutongs.
A hutong is an ancient alleyway with old houses and buildings. These days, many cities are knocking down hutongs to make way for new development. Some younger cities like Shanghai didn’t have very many old hutongs in the first place. But Beijing is still filled with old and interesting hutongs, and discovering them is a great way to spend days or even weeks in Beijing. On a recent trip to Beijing, I sought out some of Beijing’s famous hutongs, including the narrowest hutong in the city. While I didn’t end up finding that particular one, I did find many other lovely and peaceful streets.
Hutongs are everywhere in Beijing, but three areas with particularly outstanding hutongs are Hou Hai, Tiananmen, and Qianmen.
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