Beijing Courtyards (Siheyuan)
Historical Beijing Courtyards also known as Siheyuan are traditional residences that can be found throughout China. However, Beijing is perhaps the most famous city to see the Siheyuan. The layout for Siheyuan were the same composition used for palaces, temples, monasteries and even government offices. A large Siheyuan would usually house a large and extended family which represented wealth and prosperity. The four building of the Siheyuan are usually situated along the north to south and east to west axis. The building which is located to the north and facing towards the south is the main house. The building facing the east and west are known as the side houses.
The main entrance of most Beijing ancient courtyards are situated to the southeast corner with a gate painted red (vermilion) and door knockers made of copper. In most entrances you will find that there is a screen wall which was believed to ward off evil spirits. You will also find that there are often a set of stone lions at the front gate entrance.
According to the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage, there are over 3,000 preserved courtyards remaining in Beijing. More than 539 are in Cultural and Historical Conservation Areas. Famous and well preserved historical Siheyuan in Beijing include:
Former Residence of Lu Xun – Lu Xun was one of China’s most revolutionary writers of the 20th century. His literature and books influenced the 1911 Chinese Revolution.
Former Residence of Guo Moruo – Guo Moruo was an influential scholar, historian and poet of China.
Former Residence of Mao Dun – Mao Dun was one of the greatest modern literature writers of China.
Former Residence of Mei Lanfang – The legendary Mei Lanfang was the greatest master of Beijing Opera.
Former Residence of Lao She – Lao She was a native Beijing novelist and playwright. His former residence in Beijing is often referred to as "Red Persimmon Small Yard".
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