The word "hutong" comes from the word "hottog" which means "well" in Mongolian. Rednecks excavate a well and settle there. Hutong means a lane or alley, the passage formed by lines of siheyuan in which old Beijing residents live actually. Be careful or you will be lost! It is said that in the Yuan dynasty a 36-meter-wide road was called a normal street, a 18-meter-wide one was a small street and a 9-meter-wide lane was called a hutong. In fact, Beijing hutongs are variable ranging from 40 centimeter to 10 meter in wide. The longest has over 20 turns.
Features of Beijing Hutong
The Beijing Hutong play an important role in Beijing’s history and culture .The alleys give a excellent glance into the world of Yesterday’s Beijing. While going around the Beijing Hutong, you can enjoy the attractive changes that Yesterday’s Beijing has undergone.You can see authentication of the history of Beijing, undergo the old way of life and enjoy traditional Beijing culture. Longer Beijing tours usually comprise a visit to a hutong area.Beijing hutongs, lanes or alleys formed by lines of siheyuan ,a kind of complex with houses around a courtyard, where old Beijing people live, witness the ups and downs of the city.
The name of a hutong signals its origin, history , location. It is in the deep lanes that families play, gossip ,buy goods, and connect. In the eyes of Beijing people, hutong represents a period of history, a genuine lifestyle and even an " cyclopaedia of Beijing".