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Cuandixia Village is located in Zhaitang Town of Mentougou District in the western suburbs of Beijing, 99 kilometers and about two hours' drive away from Beijing. It is a relatively well-preserved and centralized ancient village of the Ming and Qing dynasties. There are more than 70 quadrangle dwellings with 689 rooms preserved there.
This village retains a relatively complete architectural complex of ancient houses. They are surrounded by mountains and are built on the gentle slopes of the north side, so their places of construction have become higher and higher.
A south-north axis passes through the village, dividing all the folk houses into two parts, forming a fan-shaped layout for the development of houses there.
A giant curved wall separates the village into the upper and lower parts. The village was built in the Ming Dynasty, rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty, and is still completely preserved now. All of the 689 rooms of the 74 dwellings are constructions from the Qing Dynasty, without a single new house.
Cuandixia Village has a history of more than 400 years. In 1515 (the Ming period), an important military pass, Cuanlikou, was built in the Cuandixia Village area.
This pass is situated at the junction of Beijing's Ancient Road to the West (the joint name of various commercial roads, military roads and pilgrimage routes that run through today's Mentougou area) and the Great Wall. It was the first pass for Beijing to defend against north-west enemies.
Through textual research by experts, it is believed that the site of today's Cuandixia Village was the location of the wall of Cuanlikou of the Ming Dynasty, and the folk houses were the government offices and barracks of the troops stationed there.
The prosperity of this village was due to the ancient post road constructed in the 14th year of the Zhengde period (1519 AD) in the Ming Dynasty. This road was once the only road leading to Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia. It was an important military road then.
By the Qing Dynasty, the stability in the northern areas made the village become unimportant militarily. The post road turned into a business travel route between Beijing and the north-west regions, and the village was a stopover place on the road for travelling merchants.
In the Kangxi and Qianlong periods, commerce in this village reached its peak. At that time, there were eight business stores, and three to four inns with sheds for carts and animals.
After the establishment of the PRC, National Highway 109 opened (Beijing to the north-west: a road connecting Beijing, Heibei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and other regions). Cuandixia Village lost its role as a commodity distribution center and an inn on the post road, and became a small, predominantly agricultural village.
Its main street is in a south-north position. It will take you about 15 minutes to walk slowly from one end to the other. The rustic scenery on the way is excellent. There are many bystreets with distinctive scenes for you to explore.
The Guandi Temple is on the east mountain slope. You need to climb up there via a mountain path, but it is not very high, so young people can reach it very easily.
The first quality location for shooting the panorama of the village is halfway up the mountain.
The Temple of the Goddess of Fertility is on the south-east mountain slope. It is said that the goddess in the temple is in charge of fertility and blessedness.
The Temple of the Dragon King Subduing Demons is situated halfway up the east mountain. It is the temple of the highest class of construction in the village.
This temple was originally called "Temple of the Dragon King". It was built in the 54th year of the Kangxi period (1715 AD) in the Qing Dynasty. It was the place for villagers to pray for rain and to worship heaven. There is also a Guandi Temple inside this temple.
According to the villagers, the reason why Guandi is enshrined in this temple is because Cuandixia Village, which is near Beijing's Ancient Road to the west, was once commercially developed, so the statue of the God of Fortune, Guandi, was placed in the temple by the people, hoping that he could bring wealth and treasure, shelter the merchants and help the people to gain a profit.
Since then, the Temple of the Dragon King has been renamed as the "Temple of the Dragon King Subduing Demons". Villagers there hold the ritual of worshipping the Dragon King on June 22nd in the lunar calendar every year.
There is a natural mountain pass one kilometer north-west of Cuandixia Village. It is down in a deep valley, which is more than 100 meters long and has steep sides. The locals vividly call it "A Thread of Sky".
Just as its name suggests, it is meandering and narrow with only a thread of light leaking from the sky. Its width is only enough for one car to pass through. There is a tiny place at each turning for cars to turn around.
Some of these places are open, while some are recessed in the mountain walls.
The viewing platform is on the south mountain. Standing there, you can overlook the entire village.