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Qianmen: a must-go walking tour in Beijing

http://www.chinese.cn 11:10, December 3, 2010 Xinhua News Agency

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Qianmen
Business is booming at all of the restaurants along the Qianmen Street. (Photo: China.org.cn/ Wang Zhiyong)

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Lying on Beijing's historical central axis just south of Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City, the newly renovated Qianmen Street is fast becoming one of the most popular sites for a walking tour in the Chinese capital.

The 840-meter street and its nearby alleys were extremely crowded when I went there on the night of August 9, the day after its official reopening to welcome Olympic visitors. The re-erected sculptural archway at the entrance, just south of the gigantic military fortress of Zhengyangmen, offers itself as the pedestrian street's landmark and heralds its traditional flavor.

An old-fashioned tramway dating to 1924 has also been restored, after being decommissioned in the 1960s, adding a sense of modernism to the ancient shopping street. But the tram won't be operational until September 20, since the Olympic and Paralympics marathon runners were and are to pass along the street.

Qianmen Street began to develop about 570 years ago. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) the street was dotted with guildhalls built by different localities, to provide housing to citizens intending to take the imperial exams or do official business with the Imperial Court, just north of the Zhengyangmen Tower.

Qianmen Street
Qianmen Street
Qianmen Street
Ruifuxiang
Ruifuxiang
Qianmen Street
Neiliansheng
handicrafts and antiques
Zhengyangmen

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