A standard siheyuan residence has house units on all four sides. The main house (also called the north house) is always at the north end facing south. The one facing north is called the opposite house or south house. The houses on the sides are called side houses.
- Chinese: 四合院 sìhéyuàn /suh-her-ywen/ 'four joined courtyard'
These residences are a very important part of Chinese culture. In adherence to traditional concepts of Five Elements Theory and the eight diagrams of fengshui divination, the gate was to be located at the southeastern corner. A screen is put at the gate to prevent outsiders from seeing the inside and to protect the courtyard from interference by evil spirits.
1. The Former Residence of Soong Chingling
- Location: near the north bank of Youhai Lake
- Open: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM November to March; 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM April to October
Surrounded by a lake, it comprises of a grand entrance, two wing rooms, side hall, a back house and the main building. The beautiful and quiet courtyard area covers over 7722 square yards. It is also a former residence of Prince Chun who lived there during the Qing Dynasty era.
Over 400 historical pictures and over 300 cultural relics are exhibited at the grand entrance and back house. Read more on this residence.
2. Former Residence of Guo Moruo
- Location: Qianhai Xijie (前海西街)
- Open: Tuesday – Sunday, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Dense with gingkoes and peonies, this residence boasts relics of Guo Moruo - a writer, scholar, and historian of 20th century China - a bronze statue, manuscripts and books, as well as an earthen mound dotted with trees inside the main entrance.
It consists of, among other things, two-courtyard complexes, east and west wing rooms, and two rows of main houses. The Hanging Flower Gate divides the outer court from the inner court. The residence has been open to the public since 1988.
3. The Former Residence of Mei Lanfang
- Location: Huguo Temple Street (Huguosi Dajie 护国寺大街) at the Lanfang Memorial Park.
- Open: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Tuesday to Sunday
This siheyuan courtyard residence is famous among fans of Beijing Opera. It covers an area of 274 square meters and comprises a big drawing room in the front, a small living room, bedroom, and drawing room.
4. Beijing Courtyard Hotel Sihe (another former home of Mei Lanfang)
- Location: 5 Dengcao Dongsi South Street, Dongcheng District
This traditional courtyard hotel is the only hotel built in Beijing during the beginning of the Qing Dynasty era. It is another former home of the famous Chinese opera artist Mr. Mei Lanfang. The guest rooms share a beautiful inner patio with each other, with the doors and windows facing the courtyard so there is enough lighting.
The courtyard is spacious and you can have your choice of flowers planted there, and you can see choice fish and birds bred there. The courtyard is only 1>0 minutes walk from Wangfujing shopping street and Tian'anmen Square.
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5. Former Residence of Mao Zedong
- Location: 8 Left Lane off Ji'an Suo Street, east of Jingshan street
- Open: 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM
This famous siheyuan courtyard residence hosts a number of Chairman Mao pictures and newspaper clippings, and a very beautiful stone-gate house. You need a passport or other ID to enter.
6. Former Residence of Li Dazhao
- Location: 24 Shifuma Street, Xicheng District
- Open: 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM, Tuesday to Sunday
It has been renovated to become an exhibition hall and all things are now restored as they were originally. Li Dazhao was a founder of the Chinese Communist Party.
7. Former Residence of Qi Baishi
- Location: 13 Kuache Hutong, Xicheng District
- Open: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
The siheyuan courtyard residence covers an area of 79 square meters. It hosts informative and attractive displays (in English) about the artist Qi Baishi, a famous master of traditional Chinese painting.
8. Imperial Courtyard Hotel
- Location:16 Huayuandongxiang, Andingmen, Dongcheng District
This is a renovated 18th century courtyard located in the busy commercial downtown. It is near major attractions such as the Bell Tower and Temple of Earth Park, and offers a variety of rooms... You can have a rooftop view of Beijing, or choose to hang out on the second floor where the entire railing doubles as benches. The courtyard is heated during winter.
9. The Orchid (Hotel)
- Location: in the historic hutong area, 5 minutes walk from the Drum Tower and Bell Tower (only 384m away)
A good number of travelers are now aware of this down-to-earth courtyard that simply spells out the words that not all courtyard residences are mired in the Qing Dynasty. The ten simple but cosy rooms are comfortable in winter, as they come with underground heating. The environment is characterized by a garden and terrace, among other features.
You can have a good view of the Drum and Bell Towers and enjoy dumpling-making lessons every Thursday evening. The Lama Temple is a 7-minutes drive away.
10. Templeside Deluxe Hutong House
- Location: 2 Baitaxiang (inside Anping Xiang), Zhaodengyu Road, Xicheng District
This courtyard house has a stunning design and lovely decor. It is a recommended budget-friendly option (rooms go from 250 yuan) for those who want to have a full-on hutong courtyard experience. There is a free walking tour around the hutong every Thursday. You can also enjoy dumpling-making classes and ping-pong tournaments that are organized by owners from time to time.
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Visiting Beijing Courtyards with China Highlights
A half-day Hutong walking tour is the best way to explore the hutong environment, and is customizable for visiting courtyard residences or hotels of your choice.
- A full-day Hutong walking tour will take you to Yonghe Temple, Guozijian (the Imperial Academy), the Temple of Confucius,Nanluoguxiang Hutong, Yandaixiejie Hutong, Silver Ingot Bridge, and Prince Gong's Mansion. It can be customized to include a visit to one or more of the courtyards above.
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