Sunset over the Hutong dwellings of the Dàshilàn district in Beijing (China, 2019)
SONY FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS
48mm ƒ/5.6 1/100s ISO 100
6000 x 4000 px / 300 dpi
Dàshilàn, 大栅栏, also known as Dashilanr or Dashilar, is a subdistrict of Xicheng District in Beijing, and is located to the south of Tiananmen Square and west of Qianmen Street. Today, the unique Dashilan Street and its surroundings are the oldest and most famous of the capital’s shopping streets in the Beijing Hutongs. It is a 275-meter long commercial street with a history of 500 years.
The history of Dashilan Street dates back to the days of Xiaozong, emperor of the Ming dynasty. It was back then prohibited to conduct any trading activity in Beijing after dark, in order to avoid arousing the lust of thieves and robbers of all kinds. Thus, the inhabitants of Beijing built everywhere in the city wooden fences at each end of the streets and alleys. The phenomenon assumed such importance over the years that the city ends up counting almost 2000 barriers, and in particular this district of Dashilan.
Dashilan Street and Hutong were originally named Lang Fang Si Tiao, because of these famous wooden fences. Over the time, the fences on Lang Fang Si Tiao got much bigger, so the name of the Hutong was gradually changed to Da Zha Lan which means a big / great fence.
Many famous old shops and time-honored brands in old Beijing still provide products there. One of the most famous is undoubtedly the Tong Rentang pharmacy, a traditional Chinese medicine store. This latter has existed since 1696 and offers miracle cures after on-site consultation.
Dashilan Hutong was not only the commercial center of the old city, but also the center of entertainment. During the most prosperous time, there were five Opera theaters. In addition, the first cinema of the city, Da Guan Lou Cinema, is not far from the west entrance, and is where the first film in China was shown in 1905 (the silent film Dingjun Mountain).