dashalanrJust South of Tiananmen square is the historical entertainment district of Beijing ‘Dashilan’ located. Parts of it has been restored or actually completely rebuilt. This has capped the place with a somewhat plastic design that seems to only ‘attract’ the huge amount of tour groups that are literally dragged there. But if you leave the main roads there is still ample prove of the amazing past of this area to be found.2

Dashilan has its origin from trade routes that were created when merchants travelled into the Mongolian capital of Dadu (name of Beijingduring Mongolian rule) some 800 years ago. Walking around the area it is immediately perceptible that many streets are not straight like most streets in old Beijing. This owes to the way settlements accumulated in this area along the trade routes just outside the city gates.

Later, during the Ming dynasty, Dashilan was incorporated into the city, when the Outer City Wall was built South of the original City Wall or Inner City as it is often called. When the Manchus took over the capital in 1644 and founded the Qing dynasty they decided to expel the original Han Chinese population from the Inner City to the Outer City.At the same time, entertainment establishments like brothels, teahouses, Beijing Opera theaters were, if not banned, then at least heavily restricted within the Inner City. This further added to the area just outside Qianmen Gate, becoming the most important commercial and entertainment center of town.

5 opium smokers ca 1900The name Dashilan means big fence and dates back to the Qing dynasty. It referred to the street gates of Beijing that was closed every night when a curfew was imposed. Visitors to the brothels and opium dens of Dashilan could literally get trapped away from home if they did not make it before the gates shot. Entering Dashilan from the Inner City was like entering another world. Many emperors found this entertainment paradise much more appealing than the strict ceremonial rules of the Imperial Palace, and there are many stories of the imperial escapades.

billeder fra kamera 059After the Second Opium War (1860), when the British and French won the right to settle in Beijing, the Dashilan area became heavily influenced by the new breed of foreign customers. Many shops targeted the westerners as their main customers with signs on the shop front in European languages. This affiliation to the foreigners prompted the so-called Boxers to actually burn down huge areas of Dashilan during the summer of 1900. The Boxers wished to rid China of the foreign devils and return to the old ways. But despite these efforts, the Boxers were not able to turn the tides of development.In fact foreign influence was just to become even more pronounced. After 1911 when the last emperor abdicated, the imperial building restrictions were lifted. This resulted in a thorough western style modernization of the area. Today it is still possible to find numerous ‘Art Deco’ facades in the area dating back to around the 1920s and 1930s.

After the Communist ‘Liberation’ of Beijing in 1949, the opium dens and the brothels were closed down gradually, but many shops dealing in silk, cloth shoes, knifes, medicine etc. were kept in the area. These old shops still exist today and they are not without a certain prevailing charm. Despite this it does not feels like the adventure really start till you venture in to the largely untouched hutongs around Dashilan Xijie. Here you can still find areas that have escaped the often well meant but largely destructive efforts of the present day developers.get of the plastic main streetbilleder fra kamera 040





1  dashalanr北京历史上的娱乐区“大栅栏”就在天安门广场的南面。现在其中一部分重新修葺了或者说实际上被完全重建了。这也造成了这一地区似乎失去了原来的韵味,只是成为了“吸引”旅游团的免费景点。但如果你离开大街穿小胡同的话仍然可以发现许多展现其迷人过去的地方。2



5 opium smokers ca 1900“大栅栏”这个名字从清朝就有了,意思就是大的栅栏。当时由于有宵禁,北京的街道都有门(其实就是栅栏),每天晚上都会关闭。那些流连在妓院和鸦片馆的人们如果不能在这些门关闭前回家那他们当天就回不了家了。从内城来到大栅栏就好像进入了另一个世界。许多皇帝发现外面的这个花花世界比有着严格的清规戒律的紫禁城有意思多了,由此流传下来许多故事。

1860年第二次鸦片战争后,英国人和法国人获得了在北京定居的权利,大栅栏地区开始受到外国人的深刻影响。许多商店把洋人看成主要客户,在店billeder fra kamera 059门口摆上了带洋文的招牌。也正是由于和洋人的这种联系,在1900年夏天,义和团烧毁了大栅栏的大片地区。义和团的口号是“扶清灭洋”,他们希望把洋鬼子赶出中国,恢复旧的秩序。但最终还是失败了,义和团无力阻挡历史的潮流。实际上,外国影响甚至更加深远了。1911年,末代皇帝溥仪退位,对建筑的那些封建规条不复存在。大栅栏地区也开始彻底的西方化。今天仍然可以看到大量的建于上世纪二,三十年代的“艺术装饰风格”(Art Deco)的建筑。

解放后,鸦片馆和妓院被逐步取缔了。但许多卖丝绸,鞋,刀剪,中药等等的商店保留下来。很多老店一直开到现在,并散发出一种迷人的魅力。不过由于现在的房地产开发商一定程度上来说好心办了坏事,很多地方被开发后,原来的韵味没有了,如果你想真正了解该地区就要去大栅栏西街附近那些还没有被改造开发的胡同。get of the plastic main streetbilleder fra kamera 040