Cyclist in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China

Photo Gallery of China

Beijing Hutong - Harmony in Grey

Beneath rapidly growing skyscrapers of today's Beijing, traditional hutong and siheyuan still linger, surrounding the Forbidden City.
Hutong means a lane or alley; the word comes from the Mongolian hottog meaning "water well". During the growth of Chinese towns and cities, wells dug by villagers formed the centers of new communities. In Beijing, hutongs are alleys as narrow as half a meter - formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences. Many Beijing hutongs were built during the Yuan (1206-1341), Ming (1368-1628) and Qing (1644-1908) dynasties.
Following the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, many of the old hutongs have disappeared to give way to wide boulevards and modern buildings. Many hutong dwellers were forced to move to new housings, many refuse to do so and stay living in the ruins.
More recently, some hutongs have been designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history. Some old neighborhoods survive today, offering a glimpse of life in the capital city as it has been for generations.
In Beijing, the hutongs in the vicinity of the Bell Tower and Shichahai Lake are well preserved. Some are several hundred years old, attracting tourists who explore the quarters in rickshaws/pedicabs. The best way to discover hutong is to come without a map and get lost in the maze of narrow lanes and grey houses. The deeper you penetrate, the friendlier the hutong dwellers are.

For other photographs of Beijing click here.

Photographs by Frantisek Staud


 Beijing Hutong in motion - Chinese man transporting fire wood on his tricycle, China

 Beijing Hutong in motion - Chinese man transporting bottled beer on his tricycle, China
 Beijing Hutong in motion - Chinese man transporting bed on his tricycle, China

 Shaken but not broken - Chinese people reluctant to leave their homes in Beijing Hutong, China

 Shaken but not broken - Chinese people reluctant to leave their homes in Beijing Hutong, China
 Shaken but not broken - Chinese people reluctant to leave their homes in Beijing Hutong, China

 Little Chinese boy sitting in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China

 Elderly Chinese man repairing bicycles in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China
 Three and three - Chinese children in Beijing Hutong, China

 Beijing Hutong in motion  cyclists in the old lanes of Beijing, China

 Street scene in Hutong, Beijing, China
 Beijing Hutong in motion - Chinese man transporting cardboard boxes on his tricycle, China

 Chinese couple repairing their roof in Beijing Hutong, China

 Green tree in grey roofs, Beijing Hutong, China
 Chinese man repairing his roof in Beijing Hutong, China

 Street life in Hutong  the poor quarters of Beijing, China

 Elderly Chinese man in the streets of Hutong  the poor quarters in Beijing, China
 Street life in Hutong  the poor quarters of Beijing, China

 Little Chinese boy being washed on the street, Beijing Hutong, China

 Little Chinese boy being washed on the street, Beijing Hutong, China
 Little Chinese boy being washed on the street, Beijing Hutong, China

 Men playing Chinese chess in Beijing Hutong, China

 Men playing Chinese chess on the ground in Beijing Hutong, China
 Chinese men playing cards in Beijing Hutong, China

 Two Chinese girls playing in the lanes of Beijing Hutongs, China

 Chinese man and grandson drinking tea outside courtyard house in a Beijing Hutong, China
 Two Chinese girls playing in the lanes of Beijing Hutongs, China

 Chinese rickshaw waiting in narrow lanes of Beijing Hutong, China

 Rickshaw tricycle parked in Beijing Hutong, China
 Chinese rickshaw riding through narrow lanes of Beijing Hutong, China

 Riders resting in their rickshaws, Beijing Hutong, China

 Rickshaws in the old streets of Beijing Hutong, China
 Rickshaws lined up and waiting for tourists, Beijing Hutong, China

 Rickshaw rider talks to his customer on the way through narrow lanes of Beijing Hutong, China

 Seeing Beijing Hutong by rickshaw, China
 Seeing narrow lanes of Beijing Hutong by rickshaw, China

 Seeing narrow lanes of Beijing Hutong by rickshaw, China

 Rickshaw riding in Beijing Hutong, China
 Seeing narrow lanes of Beijing Hutong by rickshaw, China

 Cyclist riding in Beijing Hutong, China

 Rickshaw riding in the old streets of Hutong, Beijing, China
 Cyclist on tricycle riding in Beijing Hutong, China

 Rickshaw riding in the old streets of Hutong, Beijing, China

 Tourists enjoy sightseeing of Beijing Hutong by rickshaw, China
 Chinese man having a nap on his tricycle in the old streets of Hutong, Beijing, China

 Old hutong roofs near the Drum Tower in Beijing viewed from above, China

 Chinese man drinking tea outside his courtyard house in a Beijing Hutong, China
 Little Chinese boy in reconstructed hutong area, Beijing, China

 Hutong lanes lined with shops, Beijing Hutong, China

 Street scene in Beijing Hutong, China
 Chinese boy on tricycle delivering vegetables in Beijing Hutong, China

 Chinese man playing badminton in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China

 Elderly Chinese man working in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China
 Motorcycle and bikes against grey wall in Beijing Hutong, China

 Chinese woman riding her child on tricycle in Beijing Hutong, China

 Elderly Chinese man with plastic bag walking in the lanes of Beijing Hutong, China
 Street life in Hutong, Beijing, China

 Little boy running in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China

 Old Chinese woman walking in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China
 Old Chinese man walking in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China

 Chinese woman working in butchery, Beijing Hutong, China

 Young Chinese man riding tricycle in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China
 Three Chinese brothers reluctant to leave the old streets of Beijing Hutong, China

 Chinese boys playing in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China

 Chinese boys playing in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China
 Little Chinese girl with her cat in the narrow lanes of Beijing Hutong, China

 Little Chinese girl with in the narrow lanes of Beijing Hutong, China

 Little Chinese girl with her granny in the narrow lanes of Beijing Hutong, China
 Little Chinese girl with in the narrow lanes of Beijing Hutong, China

 Little Chinese girl in Hutong  the poor quarters of Beijing, China

 Chinese children playing in the streets of Beijing Hutong, China
 Street life in Hutong  the poor quarters of Beijing, China

 Chinese woman pushing pram in the old streets of Beijing Hutong, China

 Street clown in the Hutong of Beijing, China
 Shoe repairer in the streets of Hutong, Beijing, China

 Construction work in the Hutong of Beijing, China

 Old buildings being demolished in Beijing Hutong, China
 Construction work in the Hutong of Beijing, China

 Chinese mother with her boy in Beijing Hutong, China

 Street scene in Beijing Hutong, China
 Senior Chinese woman sitting outside her courtyard house in a Beijing Hutong, China

 Old buildings of Hutong being demolished in Beijing China

 Heavy machinery in use to demolish old buildings of Hutong in Beijing, China
 Old buildings of Hutong being demolished in Beijing China

 Onion being dried on the roof of Beijing Hutong house, China

 Traditional architecture of Beijing Hutong, China
 Chinese restaurant in Beijing Hutong, China

 Ornate door to Chinese house in Beijing Hutong, China

 Ornate door to Chinese house in Beijing Hutong, China
 Traditional ornate door to Chinese house in Beijing Hutong, China

 Renovated lane of Beijing Hutong, China

 Chinese propaganda on the walls of Beijing Hutong, China
 Houses and wires  street scenes of Beijing Hutong, China

 Inside a Chinese restaurant in Hutong, Beijing, China

 Chinese restaurant in Beijing Hutong, China
 Chinese restaurant in Beijing Hutong, China

 Laundry hanging in the narrow streets of Hutong, Beijing, China

 Old buildings being demolished in Hutong, Beijing, China
 Rickshaw in the narrow streets of Hutong, Beijing, China

 Door knockers, Beijing Hutong, China

 Ornate door to Chinese house in Beijing Hutong, China
 Door knockers, Beijing Hutong, China

All images are copyrighted by Frantisek Staud
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