Different from the yellow tiles and red walls of the north China buildings, the Huizhou Local Residential Houses also discriminate themselves from those colorful dragon and phoenix totems on the ridges of houses in Fujian Province. Generally speaking, Huizhou Local Residential Houses take the appearance of gray tiles and white walls, when seen from afar, they are quite distinctive to differentiate.
Originally constructed by Anhui and merchants, who were engaged in business across the country and returning home after getting fame or money, Huizhou Local Residential Houses were built to show off their fortune and demonstrate their benevolence.
For the wide distribution and distinctive designs of Huizhou Local Resident Houses, they are regarded as the best of ancient Chinese residences. Most of the houses can be dated back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), as many as thousands residences widely dispersed throughout the Anhui countryside. Unlike the tradition for houses facing south, the houses here face north reflecting the saying that "Merchants' gates should not face south and tax collectors' gates not towards north". Usually encircled by green mountains and blue rivers, each residence is linked with the other by a board. Inside of these residences, there is usually a world of natural beauty, abounded with plants, rockeries, pools and flowers.
The overall arrangement of the houses is quite sophisticated and puzzling, just like a maze. Halls are set up one after another, each with a patio so as to collect sunshine and allow fresh breeze passing through. The eaves bear two tiers, with the lower one wider, functioning as a shelter as an umbrella. The cornice is facing toward the inside, making the rain flow to a drain in the patio, called "water from every direction merges into the hall", coinciding with the idea that "Wealth should not flow outside". Outside of the compound is a high outer white wall, preventing the spread of fire.
As long as you enter the residences, you'll immediately be attracted by the exquisite incisions, which are in a quite different style from the outside simple and plain appearance. The well-known "three excellences of Huizhou", that is sculptures in wood, brick and stone can all be appreciated in Huizhou houses, especially with peculiar sculptures on their windows, gates and furnishings, often with particularly flamboyant engravings on the outer gates in order to show the wealth and social status of the family.
Huizhou Local Resident Houses include not only the folks' residences, inside the houses, there are also ancestral temples, which were used for punishing transgressors and congealing the ideas of the whole family.
Among the all the Huizhou Local Resident Houses existed nowadays, Xidi and Hongcun villages, nestling in Yixian County, at the foot of Mt. Huangshan, have been taken in in the World Heritage List.
Transportation: Yixian County is located at the foot of Mt. Huangshan, from which, there is only about an hour in van.