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Hutong Courtyard

Beijing Courtyards, namely Si He Yuan, are the typical residencies of ancient Beijing. Along with Beijing Hutongs, courtyards have become the symbol of Beijing's traditional culture and folk custom. Actually, courtyards and hutongs are indivisible, because courtyards are in hutongs, and hutongs are the lanes in between rows of courtyards. Like hutongs, courtyards appeared in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and developed in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties.
 
Beijing Courtyards are quite different from the courtyards in other places of China such as Shanxi, Shaanxi and South China. The major yards of Beijing Courtyards are always square-shaped, while the Shanxi or Shaanxi yards are rectangle-shaped. The houses in the four sides of Beijing Courtyards are isolated and are not connected with each other, and most of the houses have one floor, so when one overlooks a courtyard from high above, it can be seen that the yard is enclosed by four little boxes. The situation is quite different in the yards of South China where the houses in the yards are connected with each other at four corners and the houses always have several floors, thus the yards resemble wells, therefore the local people call their yards "Tian Jing" (the patio).
 
 Famous Courtyards in Beijing
Located at No. 17 of Qian Hai Xi Jie (Qianhai West Street), Prince Kung's Mansion is the largest courtyard in the world. Firstly owned by He Shen (a famous but corrupt official in the Qing Dynasty), the mansion then was given to Prince Qing by Emperor Jiaqing after He Shen's death, and then was given to Prince Kung by Emperor Xianfeng, hence the name of "Prince Kung's Mansion". It is said that the mansion covers an area of over 100 Mu (16.5 acres), as big as the Zhongshan Park. The mansion can be divided into the middle, eastern and western sections and is comprised of several smaller courtyards. The three buildings in the middle are the body part of the whole mansion, and there are 3 courtyards in the east and west sections respectively, which corresponds with the middle buildings. There is also a big garden at the rear part of the mansion, which consists of more than 20 scenic spots.
 
Ticket Fares
CNY 70
Included in the entrance fee: the open halls and scenic spots, tour guide in the mansion, watching performances, tasting tea and snacks.
CNY 30
Included in the entrance fee: the open halls and scenic spots
Transportation
Take Buses No. 13, 42, 107, 111, 118, 810 and 850, and get off at the North Gate of Beihai Park (Bei Hai Bei Men).

 Mei Lanfang Memorial Museum
Another famous courtyard is the Mei Lanfang Memorial Museum, which is actually the former residence of Mr. Mei Lanfang before he passed away in 1961. Located at No.9 Huguosi Street of Xicheng District, the courtyard takes up an area of 1,000 square meters (1,196 square yards). Above the vermilion gate is a stele with the name of the memorial written by Deng Xiaoping. Entering the gate, you will see the typical construction in a courtyard - a screen wall built with blue bricks and grey tiles, in front of which there is a bust of Mr. Mei Lanfang. Going into the yard, there are two persimmon trees and two begonia trees, which imply the good wish that every thing is going well in traditional Chinese culture. Most of the houses in the courtyard are made into exhibition rooms that display the life of Mr. Mei Lanfang. 

Opening Hours
9:00-16:00 from Tuesday to Sunday
Ticket Fare
CNY 10
Transportation
Take Buses No. 22, 38, 47, 409, 626, 810, and 826, and get off at Huguo Temple (Hu Guo Si).
Take Buses No. 13, 42, 55, 107, 111, 118, 701, 823, and 850, and get off at Chang Qiao.

 Other Courtyards
Except for Prince Kung's Mansion and Mei Lanfang Memorial Museum, the following famous courtyards are also open to the public:
1. The Former Residence of Mao Dun
Address: No. 13, Hou Yuanensi Hutong, Jiao Dao Kou.
2. Lu Xun Memorial Museum
Address: No. 21, Xi San Tiao, Fu Cheng Men Nei
3. The Former Residence of Lao She
Address: No.19, Fengfu Hutong, West Street of Deng Shi Kou, Dongcheng District
4. The Former Residence of Guo Moruo
Address: Qian Hai Xi Jie, Shi Cha Hai.

 
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