Beijing Culture

Beijing culture introduces Beijing information about history, architecture, food, opera, Hutong, religion, historical sites, ethnic groups, traditional villages, etc. Beijing is a place with multiple cultures. Chinese minority culture, together with Beijing's elegant culture and folk culture, constitutes the unique Beijing culture and has an important influence on the development and inheritance of Chinese culture. As the capital of six dynasties in history, Beijing has always been regarded as the most sacred and concerned city by Chinese people. Before the liberation, people from all over the country gathered here and brought various cultures to this precious place. Inclusiveness is the spirit of Beijing.

History of Beijing

Beijing has a history of more than 3,000 years since its construction. Since the Liao and Jin dynasties, it has been the center of politics and culture with profound historical significance.

Beijing is an ancient capital with a history of more than three thousand years. It had different appellations in different dynasties, there were roughly 20 names. Since the first emperor of Qin unified China, Beijing has been an important city and regional center in the north of China. Since 938, Beijing has been Liao's auxiliary capital, Jin Shangdu, Yuan Dadu, and the capitals of Ming and Qing dynasties successively. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, this ancient capital with a history of 3,000 years had gained new vitality and began to attract worldwide attention.

From the Yan Dynasty and Zhao Dynasty of the Warring States to the unification of China in the Qin Dynasty, from the An Lushan Rebellion in Tang Dynasty to the Mongolia fighters in the south, Beijing has witnessed the prosperity of Ming Dynasty and the fall of the Qing Dynasty. Being the capital for hundreds of years, it has its own cultural atmosphere, namely, liberal, solemn, traditional, leisure and elegance.

More about History of Beijing

Religion Culture

Residents in Beijing mainly believe in Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Christianity, among which Buddhism, Taoism and Islam have exerted great influence on the history, culture and art of Beijing. Beijing now has more than 100 venues for religious activities. Temples, monasteries, Daoist temples and churches in Beijing are places of religious activities for religious circles and believers.

Religions Venues for Religious Activities
Buddhism Tanzhe Temple(潭柘寺, the oldest temple in Beijing), Yunju Temple(云居寺), Jietai Temple(戒台寺), Fayuan Temple(法源寺), Baoguo Temple(报国寺)
Taoism White Cloud Temple(Quanzhen Taoism), Dongyue Temple(Zhengyi Taoism)
Islam Niujie Mosque(牛街礼拜寺), Dongzhimen Outer Mosque(东直门外清真寺), Dongsi Mosque(东四清真寺)
Catholicism The North Church(西什库天主堂), Xuanwumen Catholic Church(宣武门天主堂), St Joseph's Church(王府井天主堂), The Western Church(西直门天主堂), Dongjiaomin Alley Catholic Church(东交民巷天主堂)
Christianity Gangwashi Church(缸瓦市基督教堂), Chongwenmen Christian Church(崇文门基督教堂), Beijing Christian Church Kuanjie Church(宽街堂), Haidian Christian Church(海淀堂)

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Architectural Culture

The imperial palace in Beijing, called Ouchi miyagi in the Ming dynasty and the Forbidden City in the Qing dynasty, was once the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties. There were 24 emperors living here successively. The magnificent architecture perfectly reflects the classical style and Oriental style of Chinese tradition. The Palace Museum is the largest existing palace in China and even the world. It is the precious cultural heritage of the Chinese nation. Besides, the temple of heaven is famous both at home and abroad for its rational layout and exquisite construction. It was the place where the Ming and Qing emperors worshipped heaven.

Beijing Quadrangle Dwellings

Nowadays, when it comes old Beijing, the first thing that comes to mind is Hutong and Quadrangle Dwellings. In fact, Beijing is made up of many Hutongs and Quadrangle Dwellings. Beijing quadrangle originated from courtyard house of Yuan dynasty, which is the most important residential building in old Beijing. Although this traditional way of life is in decline, its cultural importance has been deeply rooted in the minds of Beijingers and will never leave. Siheyuan is a general term for the northern traditional houses with the principal room, reversely-set house and the east and west wing rooms, forming a plane layout around the middle courtyard.

Central Axis of Beijing

The central axis of Beijing refers to the central axis of Beijing city during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Beijing's urban planning has the characteristic of bilateral symmetry centering on imperial palace(宫城). Beijing's central axis starts from Yongdingmen in the south to the bell and drum tower in the north, about 7.8 km long. From south to north, there are Yongding gate, Qianmen arrow tower, Zhengyang gate, Zhonghua gate, Tian'anmen, Duan gate, meridian gate, Forbidden City, Shenwu gate, Jingshan, Di'anmen, Wanning bridge, drum tower and bell tower in turn. 

City Wall and Moat in Beijing

City Wall and Moat in Beijing is the generic term of defense building of the capital of Ming and Qing dynasties in history. It consists of palaces, imperial city, inner city and outer city, including city walls, gates, Barbican, turret, moats and other facilities. It was once China's most complete ancient urban defense system. The gate of Beijing is the general name of all the gates in Beijing during Ming and Qing dynasties. According to the difference of grade and building specification, it can be divided into four categories, namely palace city gate, imperial city gate, inner city gate and outer city gate.

Beijing Food Culture

Beijing is also the eighth “city of delicious food” in the world, ranking first in the mainland, and Beijing roast duck is famous at home and abroad. Beijing's flavor snacks have a long history and wide varieties with exquisite materials and delicate production. Apart from Beijing's most famous dish, Peking roast duck, most of the city's famous dishes are imported from surrounding areas. Food from different cultures and places converge in Beijing, so there are thousands of restaurants in the capital with a variety of dining options. Whatever their origins, these dishes are now so thoroughly integrated into Beijing life that they can be eaten in restaurants all over the city.

Opera Culture

Beijing Opera is the quintessence of Chinese culture, and its source can be traced back to several ancient local plays. In 1790, the four local theatrical troupes in Anhui, namely Sanqing troupe(三庆班), Sixi troupe(四喜班), Chungong troupe(春公班), and Hechun troupe(和春班), came to Beijing successively to perform. Anhui troupes were often in cooperation with the Han tone(汉调) performers from Hubei, and then, a new type of opera, which is mainly based on the "Erhuang melody(二黄)" of Anhui opera and the "Xipi melody(西皮)" of the Han tone, and also integrates the essence of the local operas, such as the Kun opera, the Qin opera and the Bangzi opera, has been born. This is the Beijing Opera.

Hutong Culture

Nowadays, when it comes old Beijing, the first thing that comes to mind is Hutong and Quadrangle Dwellings. In fact, Beijing is made up of many Hutongs and Quadrangle Dwellings. The earliest Hutongs in Beijing originated from the Yuan dynasty, with more than 6,000 at most. The earliest Hutongs in Beijing are the Hutongs between Chaoyangmen inner avenue and Dongsi, which are well planned. Hutongs look similar from the outside, but their internal features are not the same, casually walking in a common alley is a comfortable choice. In addition to South Luogu Lane, there are many interesting and characteristic Hutongs in Beijing, such as North Luogu Lane, Yandai Xiejie Street, Mao Er Hutong, Guozijian street, Wudaoying Hutong, Liulichang ancient culture street and so on.

Modern Culture

Beijing is a 3000-year-old famous city in the world, and Beijing culture have been inheriting for many years as well. It is not only a world famous ancient capital, also a modern international city, so Beijing culture has its own unique cultural elements, on the one hand it has profound and brilliant history and culture, and the royal culture, etc., on the other hand it has rich and colorful modern culture. In Beijing, visitors can experience the modern culture of Beijing at the 798 art district, at the Beijing international film festival, at the Tang club, Sanlitun bar street, Houhai bar street, Tango club and so on.

Traditional Beijing Temple Fairs

The traditional Beijing temple fair is a folk activity with Beijing leisure culture. Temple fairs in Beijing were originally held around temples and held regularly, so temple fairs in Beijing gradually became the city culture. In Beijing, temple fairs are held in turn every 10 days at Earth temple, the flower market, the White Pogoda temple, Huguo temple and Longfu temple. These temple fairs have been held regularly for more than 300 years. Most temple fairs in Beijing are held during the Spring Festival. The highlights of the Beijing temple fair are folk performances and various folk handicrafts. Yangko dance, lion dance and other performances can be seen everywhere. In this kind of carnival, people wear traditional Chinese costumes and play joyfully.

Beijing Dialect

Beijing dialect belongs to Beijing mandarin language. It's very popular in central Beijing. Some people regraded Beijing dialect or Beijing dialect of Mandarin accent as "Jing Pian Zi". Beijing dialect usually refers to the accent spoken in downtown Beijing, not the suburban Beijing dialect. Standard Chinese(Mandarin) is based on Beijing dialect. Still, there are certain differences between Beijing dialect and mandarin. Compared with mandarin, Beijing language is also a dialect. It is the closest language to mandarin.

Folk Custom Products

Beijing is one of the four ancient capitals of China. There are many local featured customs, including Beijing snacks, Beijing Opera, Jingyun bass drum(京韵大鼓), cross talk, the living theater, quick books, cloisonne, ivory carving, lacquer carving, grasshopper race and cage, sugar-figure blowing, dough figurine and so on.

China Time-honored Brands

Categories Brands
Restaurants QJD/Quanjude(全聚德), Bian Yi Fang(便宜坊), Peking Eastern House(东来顺), Fangshan Restaurant(仿膳饭庄), Diaoxiang Village(稻香村), Old Bai Kui Number(老白魁号), Liubiju(六必居), Hongbinlou(鸿宾楼), Quyuan Restaurant(曲园酒楼), Kaorouwan(烤肉宛), Kaorouji(烤肉季), etc. 
Silks and Satins Refosian(瑞蚨祥), Nei Lian Sheng(内联升), Yuanlong Guxiu(元隆顾绣), Bu Ying Zhai(步瀛斋), Qian Xiang Yi(谦祥益), Li Feng Xiang(丽丰祥), Sheng Xi Fu(盛锡福), Ma Ju Yuan(马聚源), Tian Cheng Zhai(天成斋), Tong Sheng He(同升和)
Drugstores Tongrentang(同仁堂), Nanqing Rentang(南庆仁堂), Changchuntang(长春堂), Yong Ren Tang(永仁堂), Qian Zhi Tang(千芝堂), Wanquantang(万全堂), Heniantang(鹤年堂)
Tea Shops Wu Yu Tai(吴裕泰), Yuan Chang Hou(元长厚), Zhang Yi Yuan(张一元), Qing Lin Chun(庆林春), Yong'an Tea House(永安茶庄), Sentai Tea House(森泰茶庄), Wu Zhao Xiang(吴肇祥)
Four Treasures of the Studies(Stationery and Office Supplies) Yi De Ge(一得阁), Wen Sheng Zhai(文盛斋), Dai Yue Xuan(戴月轩), Rong Bao Zhai(荣宝斋), Cheng Wen Hou(成文厚), Cui Wen Ge(萃文阁), Qing Mi Ge(清秘阁), Four Treasures(文房四宝堂)
Snack Nian Gao Yang(年糕杨), Xiao Chang Chen(小肠陈), Du Yi Chu(都一处), Qing-feng Steamed Stuffed Bun(庆丰包子), Tian Fu Hao(天福号), Laoshe Tea House(老舍茶馆), Yao Ji Fried Liver Shop(姚记炒肝店), Jinxin Douzhir Shop(锦馨豆汁店),Hou Wonton (馄饨侯), etc. 

Intangible Cultural Heritages in Beijing

Classification Name
Traditional Drama Beijing Opera, Kun Opera
Chinese Folk Art Forms Cross Talk, Jing Yun Drum(京韵大鼓), Single-stringed folk art form(单弦牌子曲), Beijing Pingshu(北京评书)
Traditional Sports, Recreation and Acrobatics Tianqiao Zhongfan(天桥中幡), Playing Diabolo, Weiqi, Chinese Chess, overpass wrestling(天桥摔跤), Oral Stunts
Traditional Fine Art dough figurine, Jade Carving, Beijing Silk Flower, Ivory Carving
Folk Custom Temple Fair, Lantern Festival, Changdian Temple Fair(厂甸庙会)
Traditional Skill Fangshan (imperial cuisine of the Qing dynasty) Making Skill, cooking skills of beef and mutton, Juyuanhao bow and arrow making skills, Woodblock watermarking technology

More National Intangible Cultural Heritages in Beijing City

Inheritors of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Order Number Name Gender Date of Birth Project Name Declaration Place Classification
01-0035 Zhang Guoliang(张国良) Male 1956.05.18 Playing Diabolo(抖空竹) Xicheng District of Beijing Traditional sports, recreation and acrobatics
01-0088 Sun Sen(孙森) Male 1936.03 Ivory Carving(象牙雕刻) Dongcheng District of Beijing Traditional fine art
01-0164 Qian Meihua(钱美华) Female 1927 Cloisonne Craftsmanship(景泰蓝制作技艺) Dongcheng District of Beijing Traditional skill
01-0167 Wen Qiangang(文乾刚) Male 1941.10.22 Lacquer Engraving(雕漆技艺) Dongcheng District of Beijing Traditional skill
01-0216 jin Aiying(金霭英) Female 1937.2.14 Tongrentang Culture of Traditional Chinese Medicine(同仁堂中医药文化) Beijing Tongrentang (group) co., LTD Traditional medicine
02-0312 Zhang Benxing(张本兴) Male 1923 Music in Beijing Zhihua Temple(智化寺京音乐) Beijing City Traditional Music
02-0416 Hou Shaokui(侯少奎) Male 1939.01.10 Kun Opera(昆曲) Beijing City Traditional Drama
02-0503 (孙毓敏) Female 1940 Beijing Opera(京剧) Beijing City Traditional Drama

More Inheritors of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Beijing City

Historical and Cultural Attractions in Beijing

Beijing is the city with the most world heritage sites and the first capital city with world geoparks.

World Cultural Heritages The Forbidden City(The Palace Museum), The Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, The Summer Palace, The Ming Tombs, The Grand Canal, Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian.
Famous Historical and Cultural Streets Guozijian Street(国子监街), Skewed Tobacco Pouch Street (Yandai Xiejie 烟袋斜街), Dashilan(大栅栏), Di'anmen Inner Avenue(地安门内大街)
Historic Towns of China Gubeikou Town(古北口镇) of Miyun District, Jiuduhezhen(九渡河镇) of Hairou District, Dongba Ancient Town, Wangsiying(王四营) of Chaoyang District
Famous Historical and Cultural Villages Cuandixia Village(爨底下村), Lingshui Village(灵水村) and Liuliqu Village(琉璃渠村) of Mentougou District, Jijiaying Village(吉家营村) of Miyun District

Main Museums in Beijing 

Beijing is the "museum capital" with 151 registered museums. The national museum is the world's largest museum. The Palace Museum is one of the five largest museums in the world.

Beijing Ethnic Culture

Beijing was the first city in China gathering 56 ethnic groups, of which the Han ethnic group has the largest population. Among the ethnic minority population, the top five ethnic minorities are Manchu, Hui, Mongol, Korean and Tujia, accounting for about 90% of the minority population. There are 5 ethnic towns in Beijing, namely, Changying Hui Ethnic TownYujiawu Hui Ethnic TownTanying Manchu and Mongol Ethnic TownChangshaoying Manchu Ethnic Town and Labagoumen Manchu Ethnic Town

Traditional Villages

  • Shuiyu Village in Nanjiao Township of Fangshan District房山区南窖乡水峪村
  • Liuliqu Village in Longquan Town of Mentougou District门头沟区龙泉镇琉璃渠村 
  • Sanjiadian Village in Longquan Town of Mentougou District门头沟区龙泉镇三家店村 
  • Jiaozhuanghu Village in Longwantun Town of Shunyi District顺义区龙湾屯镇焦庄户村 
  • Changyucheng Village in Liucun Town of Changping District昌平区流村镇长峪城村
  • Jijiaying Village in Xinchengzi Town of Miyun District密云区新城子镇吉家营村

More Traditional Villages in Beijing