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Liulichang Street is famous for collecting essence of Chinese culture. Tourists will find themselves surrounding by Chinese paintings, calligraphy works, antiques, handicrafts and other traditional Chinese items.
Liulichang locates near the Peace Gate of Xicheng District, which is a part of Nancheng (the south part of downtown Beijing). As early as in Dynasty Yuan (1271-1368), Liulichang, indicating the glaze factory, had grown strong and prosperous day by day. All of the last three dynasties, Yuan, Ming ( 1368-1644 ) and Qing ( 1644-1911 ), were using glaze materials provided by Liulichang, to decorate their palaces, mansions and gardens, including the most famous Forbidden City and Summer Palace. When Dynasty Qing collapsing in 1911, lots of antiques drained away from the palace or places originally dominated by the government. At the same time, Liulichang welcomed its spring in developing itself to a distributing center of antiques and Chinese traditional treasures. Changing and reforming gradually, the factory has developed to a bazaar of antiques, calligraphy works, Chinese paintings, handicrafts and Chinese featured items, for example, the Four Treasures of the Study, refers to calligraphy brush, ink-stick, ink-slab and rice paper. Today’s Liulichang was renovated in early 1980s. Shops and vendors link with each other and sell, exchange, exhibit traditional Chinese antiques, and the scene makes the street fit for its origins.
Liulichang Street contains many renowned shops, such as Rongbaozhai. This shop opens for hundreds of years. Its advanced employees for checking antiques are also the authoritative professionals of the whole country. China Bookshop, is another famous brand of the street. You can buy Chinese thread-bound books here, which cannot be easily found elsewhere.
You can take Subway Line 2 and get off the train at Hepingmen (the Peace Gate) Station. Getting out of the station from Exit D1 or D2, and walking to the south direction for 500 meters, you will capture the ancient appearance and flavor of the Liulichang Street. (Many buses are also heading for Liulichang Station, such as Line 7, 14, 15, 66 and so on.)
Liulichang derives its name from the Chinese for "Colored Glaze Factory". According to local stories, during the Ming and Qing Dynasties it was much like bohemian haunts in modern cities, where visiting scholars, painters and calligraphers liked to congregate to engage in poetry, painting and writing, with book-sellers and shops selling the four treasures of the ancient scholar (paper, ink brushes, ink stones and ink stamps, also known as chops) opening shops to serve this market. Sellers of antiques, paintings and calligraphy also opened shops within the street so that by the reign of the Qing emperor Kangxi the area had grown into a flourishing cultural centre.
The China Bookstore, Rongbaozhai, and Jiguge are the most famous antique stores in Liulichang. The China Bookstore enjoys a reputation of being the place in Beijing to find second-hand foreign language books. If you enjoy browsing for your purchases, you are in the right place here. Literature, psychology, engineering, history, cookbooks in any language will be found cohabiting the same shelf. There are some rare books among the selection, but you’ll need to know what you want and be patient in your search to walk out with a real bargain.
Those who love antiques or arts and crafts will find it an ideal place to shop, and 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, copper coins; all kind of small commodities. Merchants race to their doors with a welcoming "Ni hao, Ni hao." for all their customers, but they particularly strive to attract any foreigners' attention.
Some offer free seal-carving services and they can even find a perfect Chinese name for you if you like.
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