Gao’s Grand Courtyard in Xian

Why is Gao’s Grand Courtyard So Special?

  1. Visit one of the best-preserved ancestral residences in Xi ‘an dating back 400 years.
  2. The courtyard was once home to seven generations of the Gao family – notable officials of the royal court.
  3. Know more about traditional Chinese lifestyle through period furniture, pottery, porcelain and paintings.
  4. Near other city attractions such as the Great Mosque, the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower, Xi’an Ancient City Wall.

Where is The Gao’s Grand Courtyard?

The Gao Grand Courtyard is located at No. 144 on Beiyuanmen Street in Xi’an. It was built in the Chongzhen Period of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and initially functioned as the former residence of Gao Yuesong, the founder of China’s prominent Gao family. It covers an area of 2,800 square meters with a construction area of 2,527 square meters, and is actually a masonry-timber structured quadrangle dwelling with a total of 86 rooms, 56 of which are open to the public. The Gao Grand Courtyard was listed as a Key Historical Street-Protected Item of China and Norway in 1999, and it became a teaching base for Norwegian and Chinese postgraduates majoring in architecture.

History of The Gao’s Grand Courtyard

Gao Yuesong’s original family was Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province. In his youth, he took the imperial examination and appointed as the second-place winner at palace examination by emperor himself. He was fairly loyal and diligent in his career and his upright won him a good reputation.

The Queen Mother appreciated him very much and appropriated a large sum of money for the renovation of his residence, awarded the family a horizontal table with autographic inscription of Bang Yan Ji Di. (which means successfully passing the imperial examination and winning the second place at palace examination).

It was listed as a key Project of Sino-Norway Historical Districts Protection in 1999. Invested by Norway and headed by Mr. Zhang Xiyuan,the residence was thoroughly repaired, which won the “Prize for Cultural Heritage Protection in Asian Pacific Area of UNESCO in 2002”.

Highlights of Gao’s Grand Courtyard

Layout and Traditional Family Culture

Gao’s Grand Courtyard has two courts, the north court and the south court, and each court contains four small yards. There are 86 rooms in total, 56 of them open to the public, including the bedroom of the host, reception room, ancestral hall, and backyard garden.

This mansion presents a unique family culture, making you feel like dropping by a friend’s house. Besides the traditional buildings and furniture, you can really take part in this courtyard by joining in many activities, such as learning traditional skills like painting and paper-cutting, and enjoying the shadow plays. Staff will be dressed as the members of Gao family in important festivals, taking you back to the olden times in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 – 1911).

Shadow Puppetry

Watching shadow puppetry is a must when you visit Gao’s Grand Courtyard. It is a traditional folk art in China, telling you stories by manipulating puppets against the screen in front of the lamplight. Once you enter the mansion, there is a small room with an old-style opera stage on your right. There is no fixed performance schedule. You can go inside and wait a few minutes. The show will begin when the audience is large enough.

The plays usually tell of legends and stories popularized in the folk. The skilled players sing the opera lines in Shaanxi dialect, which infuse a bit of local color, making shadow puppetries in this mansion, distinct from that in other regions. With the traditional opera and the quaint settings of the room, you will be totally attracted into the show.

How to get to Gao’s Grand Courtyard

Travel with ChinaDragonTours (top recommended)

If you want to get out of the traffic and hassle of navigation, you can book a private tour package that includes visiting, dining and transfer from us. Our local guide and driver will escort you to the Gao’s Grand Courtyard in Xi’an in the fastest and most convenient way and take care of all the details. You just have to focus on the visiting.

Independent Traveler

  • By Metro
    Take Metro Line 2, get off at Bell Tower Station, and get out from Exit B. Find the Drum Tower to the northwest of the Bell Tower and walk north to the Muslim Quarter through Beiyuanmen Street. Walk around 5 minutes to find the courtyard on the west side of the street.
  • By Bus
    Take bus 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 26, 29, 32, 35, 36, 37, 43, 45, 46, 118, 201, 203, 205, 206, 208, 214, 215, 218, 221, 222, 229, 235, 251, 252, 300, 302, 502, 600, K600, 603, 604, K605, 606, 608, 609, 611, 612, K618, K630, 706, Tourist Bus Line 7, Tourist Bus Line 8 (610)…and get off at Bell Tower Station. Follow the above direction to find the mansion.

Useful Travel Tips

  1. Best Time to Visit: All year round. As summer is hot in Xian, visiting in morning and after sunset is better choice.
  2. Tel: 029-87232897 / 029-8727678
  3. Transportation:
    From Xi’an Train Station: Bus NO.216, 229, 239, K205, K616 to Drum Tower Stop 钟鼓楼站
    From Xianyang International Airport 咸阳国际机场: Bus NO.201, 216, Tourist Line NO.7
    Bus: NO.4, 7, 15, 32, 43, 45, 201, 205, 206, 215, 218, 221, 222, 251, 300, 604, 611, 612, Tourist Line NO.7, 610 to Drum Tower Stop

  4. Admission Fee

    Entrance Fee CNY 15
    Entrance Ticket + Shadow Play or Marionette CNY 30
    Shadow Play + Paper-cutting CNY 60
    Paper-cutting or Painting CNY 45
    Paper-cutting + Painting CNY 75
    Shadow Play + Marionette CNY 45
    Shadow Play + Painting + Paper-cutting CNY 90

Nearby Attractions

Edited by Bella Ren/任新月