Chinese Culture of a Beijing Hutong

As part of Beijing’s ancient culture, the Hutongs are very distinctive for their uniquely Chinese character. “Hutong” is originally a Mongolian term meaning “small lane” in English. These “lanes” can best be described as winding alleyways, which are often lined with traditional restaurants, shops and homes. Many cultural experts of China say that the culture of old Beijing is actually very much tied to the culture of these Hutongs, with more than 7,000 lanes snaking through Beijing. Often the alleys are arranged in complex systems of mazes, which for an outsider who is not familiar with the various landmarks, can be very difficult to navigate. Each Hutong has its own historical anecdote and symbolizes the individual lifestyles of the diverse Beijing local community. Many tourists come to Beijing and visit the various Hutongs around the city. Riding Beijing traditional tricycles, one can visit Hutong courtyards, and in many ways offers the bast way for a foreigner to best understand old Beijing. Below are some of the better known Hutongs throughout the ancient capital:

东交民巷 (Dong Jiao Min Xiang)- The famous Embassy Street
“Foot Street”- the shortest Hutong at only 20 meters
领奖胡同 (Lingjiang Hutong)- This is the widest Hutong in Beijing
三苗胡同 (Sanmiao Hutong) or “Three Temple” Hutong, is Beijing’s oldest at over 1,100 years old
九弯胡同 (Jiuwan Hutong) is the most winding Hutong as it’s name indicates- “Nine Bends” Hutong
Nanluoguxiang is one of the most famous Hutongs in the city, but as a result it is much more developed and commercialized for the thousands of tourists that visit each year

– Steven Wang, CPG Quality Control Inspector

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