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Home Travel in Beijing Beijng's Qianmen Street
Beijng's Qianmen Street
Travel in Beijing

Beijng's Qianmen Street

The Qianmen (Qiánmén 前门 literally "Front Gate") is the common name for the gateway known formally as Zhengyangmen (Zhèngyángmén 正阳门). It is a gate in Beijing. It stands at the south end of the Tiananmen Square (tiān ān mén guáng chǎng 天安门广场) precinct, and was formerly the front gate of the Inner City, a part of the ancient city of Beijing.

First built in 1419, the gateway consisted of a gatehouse proper and an archery tower, which forms a large barbican. Today the archery tower and the gatehouse survive and it was extensively reconstructed in 1914 and incorporated modern design elements. At 42 metres high, the gatehouse was, and is, the tallest among all of the gates of Beijing.



At its northern end, dozens of old buildings were recreated, along with many old name-brand shops of cultural and historic significance. First to catch the visitor's eye is the Dabei Photo Studio on the left, then comes Yue Sheng Zhai ( yuè shèng zhāi 月胜斋), a Muslim food store on the right. Further south visitors can see the Quanjude, the Roast Duck restaurant serving the famous Peking Duck, a must for any tourist.

It was reported that 42 traditional shops, demolished during the socialist transformation campaign that began in 1956, have been restored. Understandably, the brothels are not included.

The green and white paving stones and bird-cage-like street lamps testify to the designers' efforts to evoke Chinese traditional culture in the minds of the visitors. Some of the paving stones have even been carved with beautiful Chinese patterns.

It's said that Qianmen Street was the path ancient Chinese Emperors took to visit the Temple of Heaven for annual ceremonies of prayers to Heaven for a good harvest, so the street is also known as the "Street of Heaven." As such, during the renovation, a special stone path for Chinese emperors, like today's red carpet for Heads of State, was
recreated in the middle of the street.


Some 200 meters south, visitors can see an iron name plate crossing a narrow alley on the right side, reading 大栅栏 . In pinyin this becomes dà shān lán while local Beijingers pronounce it as Dashilanr. This street is busier, as more shops are open, including the Rui Fu Xiang (瑞蚨祥) silk shop and Nei Lian Sheng (内联升) shoe shop, both well-known for good quality. The Lao She Tea House is easy to find. It is a famous venue for overseas tourists to see wonderful performances of Peking Opera, while enjoying tea and palace snacks as well as traditional local food.Several shops offer Chinese dolls, jade bracelets, tea pots, and a range of handicrafts and antiques. Some market stalls selling cheap travelling bags recapture the spirit of the last decade.




Subway line 2 at Qianmen Station.

Lodging nearby:

Qianmen International Youth Hostel (0086-10-6313 2370) – prices ranging from 50 to 220 yuan (US$ 7-32).
Qianmen Jianguo Hotel (Tel: 86-10-6301 6688) at the south end of the Street, with
prices starting at US$80.

Attractions nearby:
• Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City to the north.
• The Temple of Heaven, about 1.5 miles to the south.
• Liulichang Culture Street, about 1.5 miles to the west.

Entertainment nearby:
• Lao She Tea House to see the Peking Opera, sip Chinese tea and taste imperial and local snacks.
• Red Theater (010-67103671/72/73) to see its Kung Fu show, The Legend of Kung Fu, which starts at 7:30
PM every evening – prices from 280-880 yuan.
• Liyuan Theater (010-6301 6688) on the first floor of the Qianmen Jianguo Hotel to watch Peking Opera;
Prices from 200-580 yuan; opens 7:30-8:40 PM daily.