|There are still some hutong areas edging the palace moat on the east side of the Forbidden City. These traditional courtyard homes once filled Beijing. The courtyard homes were built with narrow streets or alleys between them for safety from raiders and burglars. They present either blank walls or only the smallest windows to the street. In the picture above, the public side with small windows faces the canal. They have large windows and covered verandas facing the center courtyard around which they were built. Wealthier people would have several courtyards joined together.
The officials, ministers, and military commanders lived in neighborhoods on the northern side of the Forbidden City. Trades people, artisans, and merchants lived on the south side of the Forbidden City in hutongs such as these. Most of these traditional homes have been torn down in the name of progress and the urge to modernize everything in sight.
Last update: January 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2009