Guide to Beijing Hutongs
"Hutong" has more than 700 years history in Beijing. Its first appearance in Beijing dated back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). The name was gradually adopted by all the residents of Beijing , and has been handed down to the present. The width of Hutong was clearly regulated in the Yuan Dynasty and measured by steps. A passage of six steps in width was called a hutong, running directly from east to west. A passage of 24 steps in width was then called a street, which ran from north to south. The whole city, therefore, looked like a chessboard. The houses built on each side of Hutong are called Siheyuan (quadrangle), generally rectangular dwelling compounds, in which buildings on four sides. Almost every quadrangle is surrounded by high walls. In fact, Beijing Hutong is formed by quadrangles standing side by side along a straight passage.
With the passage of dynasties, this stipulation, however, did not seem to be so strictly followed in the Ming and Qing dynasty. The meaning of hutong, in a broad sense, included alleys, passages and even small streets. The old Chinese saying "There are 360 hutong with names and those without names are as many as hairs on a cattle " is used to describe the numberless hutong in Beijing. The saying is somewhat exaggerated, but it reflects the fact that Beijing 's hutong are numerous and scattered at every corner of Beijing. According to historical records, there were altogether 413 hutong and alleys in Beijing in the Yuan Dynasty. The number increased to 1,170 in the Ming, 2,077 in the Qing Dynasty and 6,104 in the mid-1980s.
We offers some classic Hutong tours, it may spend from one hour to four hours. We will take you to view the featuring Beijing Hutong, and visit the primary schools and local families. Also you can experience the real Beijing local people's life by making dumpling and chatting with the family members.