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City Guides / Guides

Courtyard houses in Beijing

By Weiwei Guan

December 11

For a closer look at Beijing’s history and culture, the courtyard houses are a good starting point.

For a closer look at Beijing’s history and culture, the courtyard houses are a good starting point.

For a closer look at Beijing’s history and culture, the courtyard houses are a good starting point.

Pictures of Beijing courtyard houses shown at an exhibition held at the Capital Museum. [Image Credit: Guan Weiwei/]
At the exhibition of Exploring the Beijing courtyard houses held at the Capital Museum in July this year, a comprehensive introduction of the ancient capital and the history of courtyard houses are given in detail.

An exhibition called Exploring the Beijing Courtyard Houses was held at the Capital Museum in July 2017. [Image Credit: Guan Weiwei/]
Courtyard houses, as a kind of traditional residence, have a history of more than three thousand years. The ancient capital city of Beijing was composed by numerous courtyard houses of different sizes. They were especially popular during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The structures, colors and rules that courtyard houses use and follow all take their roots from traditional Chinese culture.

An old picture of Beijing shown at the exhibition. [Image Credit: Guan Weiwei/]
Most of the Hutongs in Beijing run east to west, dividing the courtyard houses located at its south and north sides. Inside a courtyard house, the gates and walls are built to separate the whole place into parts.At the same time, their design is based on the beauty of symmetry and areas that serve from public to private functions.

The color of ancient architecture reflects the level of social classes. Yellow is a color that could only be used on the imperial architectures. The main color of courtyard houses as residential dwellings is gray.

Most of the courtyard houses in Beijing have stone mountains, ponds, trees and flowers to enrich the closed space with vitality and harmony between man and nature. Whole families who live in mansions together have developed a tradition of strict filial piety. Some interactive multi-media facilities were set for visitors, which was one of the distinctive highlights of the exhibition.

A picture showing the tradition of strict filial piety in ancient Beijing. [Image Credit: Guan Weiwei/]
A little boy found looking at the paintings of courtyard houses. [Image Credit: Guan Weiwei/]
The exhibition will last until July 15, 2018. Visitors can make a reservation on its official website or head there with valid ID card. Open hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed only on Monday.

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