Recently, a group of tourists from Cologne, Germany, traveled thousands of miles to Beijing for its Hutong (lanes and alleys) Tour. With curiosity, reporters from China Tourism accompanied the German visitors on the tour.
The drizzle seemed to be a welcome ceremony for these tourists. They were surprised to see a line of black pedicabs with red canopies at the back door of Beihai Park. In the hutongs, the ringing bells of the pedicabs could be heard everywhere.
Tourists are excited in the pedicab.
The Hutong Tour starts from along Shishahai near the vegetable and fruit market. In the deepest of the hutong, they were taken to visit Prince Gong's Mansion, famous in the Qing Dynasty. In the past, princes', generals' and ministers' housed with courtyards were scattered around the outside of the Forbidden City. Linking up those courtyard houses were lanes and alleys called hutongs. The word "hutong" probably came into use during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), as it is a Mongolian word, meaning "well". These residential areas were so called because where there is a well, there are people living nearby. As a result,
the hutong has become a part of Beijing life and now is an informal symbol of the city. Inside Prince Gong's Mansion there is an ancient well, and exhibits allowing visitors to understand more about hutongs.
the original famous quadrangle in Beijing
The visitors from Germany were attracted by the building style of the brick-and-tile mansion, in which the courtyard consists of a garden with winding corridors, pavilions, rockeries and water. Here, exquisite carvings on every pieces of tiles and stones are a work of art. Patterns of a bat waiting to fly and two catfishes over the window frames suggest happiness, propitiousness and having surplus in consecutive years.