HutongsWhen Beijing’s hutongs—narrow alleyways that connect to form mazelike neighborhoods—were originally built, they were lined with stone houses that had central courtyards. In 1949, with the founding of the People's Republic of China, there were more than 3,000 hutongs; so many have been razed since that time that there are now fewer than 1,000. The remaining hutongs are where locals chat with their neighbors, sit outside on hot summer nights, buy fruit, and tend to their gardens, all without leaving their own alleyway. Seeing this side of traditional Beijing life is delightful and serves as a marked contrast to the many shops, restaurants, cafés, and bars that now occupy the courtyard homes lining the alleyways.
The area north of The Forbidden City, on the edge of the dongcheng district, running parallel to th north side of the line 2 subway route is full of great hutongs. the eastern end near Gulou is full of renovated hutongs that house shops, galleries, bars, restaurants and even hotels. The West end, over by Yonghegong Temple and Beixinqiao are less renovated residential hutongs, which a re great for a quiet stroll and glimpse of traditional life.
Exploring Beijing's Hidden Hutongs
Beijing’s hutongs are narrow alleyways that connect to form mazelike neighborhoods. When the hutongs were originally built, they were lined with stone houses with central courtyards. In 1949, there were more than 3,000 hutongs, but many were razed to make way for high-rises, and now there are fewer than 1,000 left. Fortunately, shops, restaurants, cafés and bars have filled some of the hutongs, saving them from the wrecking ball.