Liulichang: Beijing’s Antique and Culture Street
Liulichang is the oldest street in Beijing. Situated outside Hepingmen, this cultural street known as “ancient street” by many foreign residents in Beijing. With brightly painted doors and eaves and gracefully curved black-tile-roofs buildings, a little of old Beijing’s lifestyle retained here.
Lilichang is 750m long with a long history from Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Now, there are dozens of shops here, and it is really a good place to these who love Chinese curios, calligraphy, painting or other artwork.
Location: Outside Hepingmen of Beijing from Yanshousi Street in the east to Nanbeiliu Lane in the west with Nanxinhua Street in the middle. The total length is 750 meter.
Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours: Daily 9am 6pm
How to get there
- Take Subway Line 2: get off at Hepingmen Station, get out of the station from Exit D1 or D2 (southwest exit), and walk south.
- Take bus no. 7, 14, 15, 66 or 70 and get off at Liulichang Station.
History of Liulichang
During the time of Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), a colored glaze factory (Liuli Chang in Chinese) was in production there, which made glazed tiles for the palaces, temples and residences of the officials, hence the name.
In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), many businessmen and venders began to sell curios and old books there.
Over years the factory was gradually replaced by the bazaar of calligraphy, painting, copybook, artifacts and the four treasures of the study. i.e. writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper.
Later the street fell into absence of lively atmosphere for a time until the rebuild in the year 1982 that revived it.
Now shops and houses of gray tiles and bricks together with sculptures and colored image are lined orderly by the street, making it taste more classical.
What to Buy in Liulichang
Those who love antiques or arts and crafts will find it an ideal place to shop, while those who are not planning on spending money may also find it worth going to have a look at the street itself.
Along the street, peddlers hawk snacks, groceries, toys and copper coins, all kind of small commodities. Merchants race to their doors with a welcoming “hello, hello” for all their customers, but they all rack their brains to attract foreigners’ attention.
Some offer free seal-carving services and they even can find a perfect Chinese name for you if you like. Some shop owners invite folk artists to their shops such as an 80-year-old heir to the Qing Dynasty’s royal embroidery tradition.
It is amazing to watch this elderly man embroider a pair of little shoes for a pair of tiny feet.
Virtual Shopping in Liulichang
The China Bookstore, Rongbaozhai, and Jiguge are the most famous antique stores in Liulichang. The China Bookstore located at the back of a courtyard of the first complex on the north, sells second-hand foreign language books.
Here’s a short list of the types of things you’ll find at Liulichang.
- Tea shops selling tea and Yixing teapots
- Book stores stocking art books and calligraphy books by the masters
- Curio shops selling chinoiserie and lots of junk
- Galleries selling Chinese paintings and scrolls
- Antiques dealers selling everything from life-size terracotta warriors to miniature jade carvings.