The Beijing Hutong has a very special and important position in the rich history and culture of Beijing. It is a "must see" part of Beijing for the tourists for they are a wonderful glimpse into the world of yesterday in Beijing. While visit the Beijing Hutongs, you can feel the dramatic changes of Beijing and experience its life style and traditional culture.
The word "hutong" originates from the word "hottog" which means "well" in Mongolian. Villagers dig out a well and inhabited there. Hutong means a lane or alley, in fact the passage formed by lines of siheyuan (a compound with houses around a courtyard) where old Beijing residents live. It was recorded that in the Yuan a 36-meter-wide road was called a standard street, an 18-meter-wide one was a small street and a 9-meter-wide lane was named a hutong. In fact, Beijing hutongs are ranging from 40 centimeter to 10 meter in wide. The longest has more than 20 turns. The gray-tiled houses and deep alleys crossing with each other in identical appearance like a maze.
The name of a hutong implicates its origin, location or history. It is in the gray-tiled deep lanes that families play, travel, buy goods, gossip and connect. In Beijingers' eyes, hutong means a period of history, a cordial lifestyle and even an "encyclopedia of Beijing".