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Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) is a small grassroots, legally-registered NGO working to protect cultural heritage across China.

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Heritage Trail project

Cultural Trail of Lama Temple Southeast

The area to the southeast of Lama Temple is where this Heritage Trail starts. The goal of this trail, and the other Heritage Trails, is to encourage more people to explore cultural trails in Beijing and show not only the history of the buildings, but also how architecture is used and how it is a repository for both memory and daily life.

About the trail

Oral history is vital to these trails as it can provide first-hand information, and also demonstrate how the value of a piece of architecture is fulfilled. While completing this trail, CHP was told that “a house is not just a shelter; every brick is full of sounds, smells and stories”. Hutong residents have a special way of talking, especially those who have lived here for 50 years or longer. They will not  tell you how much they love the place, but they will tell you stories and their affection is encoded in these.

On this walking trail there are six sites; each have similar yet rather different values. Among them there is a National Level Protected Historic Site and a Municipal Level Protected Courtyard, but most of the structures are not recognised ‘historical sites’.  They have been picked because of how they have been important to the lives of community members for a long period of time.


This project had a large group of enthusiastic volunteers doing a diverse range of work and CHP would like to express their thanks to everyone involved in this trail.

Friend of Old Beijing volunteers

Helja, Gabriele Quaglia, Yann, Varvara Shavrova, Rory McGowan, Wang Yi, Maja Linnemann, Anu Leinonen, Brandon Webb and Shi Yueyu were volunteers of our Friends of Old Beijing Project during its first phase. Their careful research in the neighborhood of the Lama Temple and the Confucius Temple provided materials and resources for our further research in the area.  Ed Lanfranco also helped  with historical research.

Summer interns

Christian Gagnon, Soomin Ryu, Fang Lin and Feng Haochen were our summer interns who  contributed much to the project.

Cultural trail volunteers

Cui Jiahua, Liu Jingqiu, Ding Jun, Gong Li, Xie Li, and Liu Chang collected material and research for this cultural trail.


Luo Hao from ADB Design Studio designed the wonderful map for this cultural trail.


Many people translated and are translating and polishing these articles. Since the translation is still ongoing, we will list all their names when the translation is finished.

The names of those who made direct contributions to the articles is at the bottom of each piece.

  • Bai Lin Temple

Although Bailin Temple is near Lama Temple and both are key cultural relics under state protection, because Bailin Temple is no longer open to the public it is not as well-known. Our Cultural Trail starts from Bailin Temple because we would like to share some of the local stories of the old temple.  Read more…

  • Horse God Temple

From Bailin Temple, walking along Zangjingguan hutong heading north, we soon come to a blind lane. The former Horse God Temple once stood at the end of this lane. When I first discovered the courtyard, Uncle Tai’s wife was sitting in the doorway. I got off my bicycle and started to chat with her. I was soon introduced to Uncle Tai who lives there. Uncle Tai told me that this used to be his temple. I was confused by what he said at first, but soon found out what he meant.   Read more…

  • Pao Ju Prison

Pao Ju, known during the late Dynasty as the East Four Banner Canon Manufacturing Workshop, is the largest site on our Cultural Trail.  The site, which is currently being used by the Public Transportation Division of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB), served as a military prison during the Republican Period and the Japanese Occupation. It was at this site in 1934 that the anti-Japanese activist Ji Hongchang died.  During the Cultural Revolution and in 1980s, Pao Ju became synonymous with the Public Security Bureau in Beijing. A joke saying “I will send you to Pao Ju if you do not behave” reflected the social impact of Pao Ju after the founding of the People’s Republic.   Read more…

  • Hui Lou (Gray Building)

Hui Lou, a gray brick apartment building with green verandas and wooden floral carvings, is located in Houyongkang Second Lane. The lane was named Bianshao hutong during the Republican period and was later changed to Houyongkang Second Lane during the Cultural Revolution. Hui Lou is the only apartment building on our Cultural Trail and when it was built in 1956, it was considered very good housing.   Read more…

  • Coal Yard

The Huilimin Commercial Limited Company, know to locals simply as the “Coal Yard,” located at No.16 Houyongkang Hutong, has the closest relationship with the community of any of the sites on the cultural trail. The reason is that it serves residents living in dozens of hutongs and streets, from Dongzhimen Beixiaojie Street in the east, to Yonghegong Boulevard in the west, and from Dongzhimen Nei Street in the south, to the Second Ring Road in the north.   Read more…

  • Beixinqiao Santiao of the Past

Beixinqiao Santiao is the longest and the straightest hutong (alleyway) in our district, beginning in the west at Lama Temple Boulevard, and ending in the east at Dongzhimen North Street. The architecture and function of the eastern part, central part and western part of the hutong are very different. The east consists mostly of governmental bureaus. One of the biggest buildings in terms of land coverage is the Traveler Inn Huaqiao Hotel designed by Mr. Liang Sicheng in the 1950s. The westernmost end of the hutong constitutes government bureaus, while the siheyuans (traditional courtyard houses) cluster around the central-west part.  Read more…

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