Beijing Culture


Beijing is the capital city of China as well as the cultural and political center of the country. Used to be the capital of many dynasties, Beijing has many world-famous museums. For the information of Beijing museums, you can log on

Starting from March 23, 2008, 33 museums in Beijing have been open to visitors free of charge. There are some free ones you might be interested in:

Capital Museum

With its magnificent architecture, abundant exhibitions, advanced technology and complete functions, the Capital Museum makes its contribution to the titles such as ¡°famous historical and cultural city¡±, ¡°cultural center¡± and ¡°international metropolis¡± of Beijing.
Open Time: 9:00 to 17:00 Tuesdays through Sundays (tickets stop at 16:00)
Ticket Prices: Free
Subway: Muxidi Station, Line 1
¢ÙNo. 1, No. 4, No. 52 and No. 37 to the stop ¡°Gonghuidalou¡± (Labor Union Building)
¢ÚNo. 937, No. 727, No. 717, No. 650, No. 708, No. 26, No. 319 to the stop Baiyun Rd.
¢ÛSpecial Bus No. 1 to the stop ¡°Muxidi¡±
Number for Telephone Reservation: 010-63370491/ 63370492
Beijing Museum of Natural History

Being the first large-scale museum of natural history, the museum today boasts its rich collections, high-level research and ever-enlarging exhibitions. It has been one of a few museums of natural history in China.
Open Time: 8:30-17:00 Tuesdays through Sundays
Group Reserve: more than 20 persons.
Ticket Prices: Free
Address: 126, Tianqiao ST, Beijing,100050,PRC

No. 2, No. 6, No. 7 and No. 15 No. 17, No. 20, No. 34, No. 35, No. 36, No. 59, No. 110, No. 707, No. 729, No. 742, No. 743, No. 744, No. 803 to the stop Tianqiao
Number for telephone reservation: 010-67024439,67024435(group); 67024431,67020733(individual)
Museum of Ethnic Costumers of Beijing University of Clothing and Technology:

All that is exhibited here may be treasured as folk art. These costumes are not just part of our national culture; they are a pure form of folk art. With their pleasing forms and intrinsic meaning, these costumes are China's national treasures.
Open Time: 8:30-11:30am on Monday and Tuesday,13:30-16:30pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Ticket Prices: Free
Address: Beijing Universty of Clothing Technology, Heping jie beikou, Beijing China

No.13, No. 62, No. 416, No. 422, No. 713, No. 725, and No. 730 to the stop Hepingjie Beikou
Tel: 86-10-64288259 64288261
The Museum of Beijing People¡¯s Art Theater:

Capital Theatre has showed the achievements established by the theatre's artists generation after generation. The Capital Theatre is recorded in world¡¯s architecture history with its simple and unsophisticated, dignified and grandiose architect style.
Open Time: According to the drama arrangement
Ticket Prices: Free
Address: 22 Wangfujing Street, Beijing, China
Wangfujing Station, Line 1
Dongsi Station, Line 5
No.101, No. 103, No. 104, No. 108, No. 109, No. 111, No.112, No. 420, No. 803, No. 810, No. 8140,and No. 846 to the stop Meishuguan or stop Dengshilukouxi
Number for telephone reservation: 010-65250996/ 65249847


Beijing Hutong
The Beijing Hutong has a very special and important position in the rich history and culture of Beijing.
The Beijing Hutong is one of the "must see" items in Beijing. They are the wonderful glimpse into the world of yesterday in Beijing. While visiting the Beijing Hutongs, you can feel the dramatic changes of Beijing and you can experience the life style and traditional culture of Beijing.

What is Hutong
The word "hutong" originates from the word "hottog" which means "well" in Mongolian. Villagers dig out a well and inhabited there. Hutong means a lane or alley, in fact the passage formed by lines of siheyuan (a compound with houses around a courtyard) where old Beijing residents live. Take care not to lose in it! It was recorded that in the Yuan a 36-meter-wide road was called a standard street, a 18-meter-wide one was a small street and a 9-meter-wide lane was named a hutong. In fact, Beijing hutongs are inequable ranging from 40 centimeter to 10 meter in wide. The longest has more than 20 turns. Either in east-west or north-south, Beijing hutongs vary as slant, half or ¡°blind hutongs", cul-de-sacs. The gray-tiled houses and deep alleys crossing with each other in identical appearance like a maze, you will find it much fun to walk through but be careful not to lose yourself.

Hutong Culture
The name of a hutong implicates its origin, location or history. It is in the gray-tiled deep lanes that families play, travel, buy goods, gossip and connect. In Beijingers' eyes, hutongs means a period of history, a cordial lifestyle and even an "encyclopedia of Beijing".

When a certain name was given and prevailed among people, it exactly became the necessary symbol for intercourses and communication. From the names of hutongs one can discover how Beijingers, in the course of centuries, advanced from vulgarity to refinement. In numerous hutongs are scattered the residences of famous personages, and these places are repositories. Laoshe, a well - known playwright is just one of them. Laoshe was born in a small lane, in the west part of the city. The memory of his childhood was so dear and impressive that after he'd been away from Beijing for more than 20 years, he still clearly remembered his birthplace, and he made it the backdrop of his novel "the Four Generations under One Roof". Many famous operas and dramas are based on the themes of the ¡°hutong life". A visit to hutongs plus a drama by the Beijing People's Art Theatre, such as ¡°Teahouse" or ¡°Small Hutong" in the evening will help you appreciate the fundamental part of life in Beijing. When urban construction threatens the existence of these hutongs, some Beijingers become worried.

Courtyard Culture
The Dwelling compounds or quadrangles (Siheyuan) - the enclosed, one-story courtyard houses that make up old Beijing, feature a typical Chinese folk residential architecture.

A standard Siheyuan usually falls into a rectangular compound with one-story houses squarely facing the cardinal points and a courtyard in middle.

Some large compounds have two or more courtyards, inhabited by an extended family with several generations. "Four Generations under One Roof", a novel by the contemporary writer Lao She, depicts Beijingers in the 1930s and 1940s living in Siheyuan.

Beijing still has about 400,000 residential quadrangles now, mainly distributed over the East, West, Xuanwu and Chongwen districts. The municipal government has earmarked a number of dwelling compounds for protection.


Beijing Opera
Beijing Opera is the quintessence of China. The largest Chinese opera form, it is extolled as 'Oriental Opera'. Having a history of 160 years, it has created many 'firsts' in Chinese dramas: the abundance of repertoires, the number of artists, opera troupes and spectators.

Beijing Opera is developed from absorbing many other dramatic forms, mostly from the local drama 'Huiban' which was popular in South China during the 18th century. It is a scenic art integrating music, performance, literature, aria, and face-painting. Certain rules are set up and regulations are standardized during many artists' long practice on stage. Different from regional plays, it is stricter on the variety of the workmanship. The combination of virtual and reality - a special technique of expression, keeps it largely free from the restriction of time and space on stage performance. Beijing Opera has had many interesting names since it came into being, such as Jinghuang, Daxi, Pingju, Jingxi.

Four Means of Artistic Presentation
Beijing Opera presents dramatic plays and figures mainly by infusing four artistic methods: singing, dialogue, dancing and martial art. Singing is utilized to intensify the appeal of the art by all kinds of tones. Dialogue is the complement of singing which is full of musical and rhythm sensation. Dancing refers to the body movements requiring high performing skills. Martial art is the combination and transformation of traditional Chinese combat exercises with dances.

Main Roles in Beijing Opera Performance
Sheng: It's a common name of male characters and composed of Lao Sheng and Xiao Sheng. Lao Sheng refers to the middle-aged man with a beard who acts as the decency figure; for example, Zhugeliang in 'Empty City Scheme'. Xiao Sheng means young man without a beard. Zhangsheng in 'The Story of the West Room' is a representative of Xiao Sheng.

Dan: The general name for female characters in Beijing Opera can be divided into Zhengdan, Huadan, Laodan, Wudan. Zhengdan is also called 'Qingyi', who mainly plays the part of the strong-minded middle-aged woman who behaves elegantly. Huadan refers to little girls who often live in the bottom of society. Laodan refers to the senior woman and Wudan indicates the female who is good at fighting.

Jing: Painted face often refers to male characters with unique appearance or personality, such as Baozheng and Caocao. Besides, Chou is a comic role or villainous character or righteous person. The actor's nose is painted by a piece of white powder, making him or her easily recognizable.

Facial Painting (Lianpu)
Lianpu is formed through dramatic artists' long-term practice and their understanding and judgment of the roles in plays. It is the colorful dressing on actors' faces. By using transformative and exaggerated figures, professional spectators would easily tell the characteristic of a role. In this way, it is called 'the picture of hearts'. There are certain formats of the facial painting in the aspect of color, type and shape. Usually, eyes, foreheads and cheeks are painted like wings of butterflies, swallows and bats.
Colors of Lianpu are varied with each representing a characteristic. For example, red symbolizes loyalty, such as Guanyu, a great general during Three Kingdoms Period (220-280). Black signifies honesty and frankness, such as Lord Bao, a righteous official during Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), or abruptness and impertinence, such as Likui, an important figure in the famous Chinese ancient novel 'All Men Are Brothers'. White stands for cattiness and cunning, with Caocao as its representative, a famous politician in the late Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).

Stage Properties (Qimo)
Qimo is a general designation for all kinds of stage properties and simple settings used in Beijing Opera performances. It comes from the real life experience. For example, an actor can practice the scene of galloping the horse simply by using a horsewhip without riding a real horse on stage. A bridge is made up of two chairs standing on each side of a table. Storms are realized by performers dancing with umbrellas.

Four Famous Artists
There are many famous masters who are good at performing Beijing Opera. Among them, the Four Famous Dans - Mei Lanfang, Cheng Yanqiu, Shang Xiaoyun and Xun Huisheng - are most well-known at home and abroad. They are experts in performing the role of Dan and each has his own artistic feature. Their wonderful performances are still appreciated by many audiences. For example, 'Farewell My Concubine' by Mei Lanfang, 'Injustice to Dou'e' by Cheng Yanqiu, 'Lady Zhaojun Going beyond the Great Wall' by Shang Xiaoyun and 'Matchmaker' by Xun Huisheng.

Beijing Opera contains the soul of Chinese national culture. Its unique charm inspires ethos of Chinese people. There is no doubt that it is really the treasure of Chinese culture. If you want to taste the real Beijing Opera, Liyuan Theatre in Beijing will be a good choice for you.