China Beijing attractions, Hutong Tours in Rickshaw introduced.

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Hutong Tours in Rickshaw

Hutong,Tourist Attractions In China

    In ancient times people tended to gather and live around wells. So the original meaning of Hutong should be"a place where people gather and live."Another explanation says that during the Yuan Dynasty about 13th century residential areas in the city were divided into many divisions. Between the smaller divisions were passageways for people to travel through. And those passageways also functioned as isolation belts against fire risks. In Mongolian language passageways of this kind were called Hutong. But no matter what Hutong exactly means one thing is for sure that is Hutong first appeared in Beijing during the Yuan Dynasty. In the early 13th century a Mongolian tribe from the north became very strong. Led by Genghis Khan the Mongolian occupied Beijing the capital of the Jin Dynasty. In the year 1271 Kubla Khan The grandson of Genghis Khan founded Yuan Dynasty and set Beijing as the capital city in the following year. Unfortunately The old city was completely destroyed during the war. So they had to rebuild it. In old China all the structures and roads were required to be symmetrical. So the city was well designed. First they had to find a center and then built a regular square city. The layout of the city was very much like a chessboard. About 50 residential areas were constructed with straight roads and Hutongs in between. At the time there was a clear definition for avenue street and Hutong. A 37-metre-wide road was called an avenue an 18-metre-wide one was called a street and a 9-metre-wide lane was called a Hutong. Most of today's Hutong ,attractions of china, were formed during the Ming and Qing Dynasties that followed. Nobody knows exactly how many Hutongs there are in nowadays Beijing. But one thing is for sure if we connected all the Hutongs together their total length would even be longer than the famous Great wall which is about 4000 miles longer. Or to make it clear it could build a highway from Seattle to Boston all across America.

    Today you can find various Hutongs with different shapes lengths or directions.The shortest one is only 40 centimeters wide which means a person like me has to walk sideways to get through. And some Hutongs have more than 20 turns. With the growth of the population many old Hutongs have disappeared to make way for high-rise apartments.

    The gate building of each Siheyuan is the only thing that we can see along the Hutongs. Chinese people used to try to protect their privacy from being intruded by strangers. So the gate building in old times was a symbol to show the position of each house owner. You don't have to go inside the courtyard. Just look at the gate building you can already tell whether it's an influential family or not.

    Almost every doorway has a threshold that high step over there. Remember we saw some yesterday in the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace For what reason they put a big step at the door.

    You know Chinese people believe all the evil spirits are short. They can not jump over high steps. So the threshold is actually for warding off evil spirits. These two pieces of stone by the threshold are also decorations for the gate building. Like these two shaped like drums. They are called drum stones. On the top are carved reclining lions and on the front right and left sides are carved a bat holding an ancient coin in its mouth. You know Chinese people like bats very much because bat in our language shares the same pronunciation with"fortune"So this pattern means good fortune is right before you. Some gate pillows are rectangular in shape which means they are younger than the drum stones. They were only built in the recent 100 years mainly for small-and-medium-scale courtyards. And their patterns are usually flowers and mascots.

    In old times transportation was not as convenient as today so street vendors played a very important role in Hutong life. They wandered from lane to lane selling various goods or providing all kind of services. People could judge the goods or services from their peddling or the sounds of their special instruments. The food they sold usually include baked pancakes seasoned millet mush or Youzhaguo a kind of deep-fried twisted dough sticks and all kinds of vegetables.