Shuyuanmen Ancient Culture Street in Xian

Why is Shuyuanmen Ancient Culture Street so Special?

  1. Shuyuamen (Academy Gate) got its name because of the Guanzhong Academy at Nanmennei. The Guangzhong Academy was the highest academy in Shaanxi during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and one of the four famous academies in China.
  2. This art street is flanked by over 100 shops in the Ming and Qing styles, selling rubbings from stone inscriptions, paintings and calligraphic works by celebrities, and books of ancient seals. The high quality of this work wins many tourists at home and abroad.
  3. Shu Yuan Men is also an authentic destination for hand crafted products and reflect the richness of traditional Chinese crafts. The market has a wonderful collection of oriental paintings which make a colorful display of the traditional painting styles.
  4. This street also can be an attraction itself. The ancient Ming and Qing constructions contain high values in architectural field. The quaintness of the surroundings definitely adds to the charm of shopping here.

Brief Introduction of Shuyuanmen Ancient Culture Street

Situated on the eastern side of the South Gate, Shuyuanmen, namely Shuyuan Gate, is a cultural street factually restored in the style of the ancient architectures of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. It is about 570 meters (623 yards) long and about 10 meters (11 yards) wide. Shuyuanmen won its name because the Guanzhong Shuyuan (central Shaanxi academy, established in the Ming Dynasty), which was one of the leading academies in ancient China and the highest institution of Shaanxi Province in Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty, was located here. Xi’an Normal School and its attached primary school are now established on the site of Guanzhong Shuyuan. Rambling down the street, you may taste the true life of people in Xi’an and find the remains of an ever-refulgent dynasty.

A decorated archway stands at the entrance to the street with 3 golden Chinese characters “Shu Yuan Men” carved on the top, and a striking couplet is engraved on each site of the archway, reading “The Stele Forest Contains National Treasures” and “The Academy Gestates Big Talents.”  Moreover, Shuyuanmen Street is shopping paradise, it’s not like the splendid and majestic ones in Beijing Da Zhalan or modern ones in Shanghai Nanjing Road, very simple. ShuyuanMen Street is flanked by shops and stores, which sell the four treasures of the study (writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper). ShuYuanMen Street is particularly famous for its collection of calligraphy. In fact, the Shuyuanmen Street is popularly known as the “Calligraphy Street”. 

History & Background

Today’s Shuyuanmen Cultural Street  has been built in combination of the renovation of Xian’s old areas, for which the residents have raised funds by themselves, and then the infrastructural department of the municipal government organized the money, designed the project and reconstructed the areas. The whole project has been completed in September 1991. Pieces of bluestone are paved on the street which has many shops with elegant look of posh ancient style.

Main Attractions

Many Kinds of Shops

Through the archway on which ‘Shu Yuan Men’ is carved, a green flagstone street extends, and you can see the 2-storey stores in ancient style along both sides and smell the aroma of Chinese ink. Most storekeepers, sitting leisurely in their stores, holding a little teapot or two small jade balls in their hands, never hustle. These stores deal mostly in the four treasures of study: curios, jade articles, gold and silver ornaments, calligraphies and paintings of celebrities, copybooks and handcrafted keepsakes. The ancient Cultural Street of Shuyuanmen There are authentic works by some celebrated artists, but you can always try bargaining for the one you want. You can find here paintings by Liu Wenxi, a Xi’an artist who drew the images on the RMB 100 note.

Shadow play figures, papercuts and face painting in the ancient style are typical folk handcrafts of Shaanxi Province that are colorful and appealing to tourists. Shadow play figures are made of animal skin, and were used for shadow play shows in ancient times. The technique of making it is so difficult that now fewer and fewer figures of shadow-play are for sale. The facial makeup painted by Zhang Xuanwu, a folk artist of Shaanxi Province, are favored among tourists. Zhang Xuanwu stated that he could paint more than 350 different faces, handed down from his ancestors.

Stalls outside the 2-storey stores are equally attractive. Along the street, Xun (an ancient egg-shaped wind instrument with eight holes) and jade articles are commonly seen. Walking in the area of Shuyuanmen cultural street, you may hear the sounds of the Xun and the bamboo flute played by storekeepers now and again to drum up trade, which is not quite a melody but more the symbol of Xi’an. Jade articles here are mostly from Lantian County of Xi’an, which is famous for the quality of jade from ancient China.

Guanzhong College

Guanzhong College had been the highest educational institution in Shaanxi Province during Ming and Qing Dynasties. It was also one of the four great schools in ancient China. Guanzhong College has been built gigantically, with six lecture halls, four large rooms in the south side and six each on the east and west of the architecture. On the back of the lecture halls, a large rockwork is located. It looks like a real and natural hill with tiny trees and green grass. In the front, a pool is having a beautiful pavilion stands in the middle with a pretty stone bridge linked to. 

How to get to Shuyuanmen Ancient Culture Street

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 Shuyuanmen Ancient Culture Street 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

the street is only 15 minutes’ walk away from the Small Wild Goose Pagoda; or travelers can take the following buses and get off at the stop of “Nanmen (南门, South Gate)”:

  • – Depart from Big Wild Goose Pagoda: tourist bus No.23, 501, 609, 701.
  • – Depart from Xi’an Railway Station: by bus No.6, 16, 40, 46, 213, 229, 239, 603, 608, 707, tourist bus No.6 or 7.
  • – Depart from the East Gate: by bus No.29, 203, 232, 512, 704.
  • – Depart from the North Gate: by bus No.6, 26, 36, 208, 216, 229, 239, 600, 608, 609, K600, K618.
  • – Depart from the West Gate: by bus No.23, 215, 221, 501, 701.
  • – Depart from Xi’an High-tech Zone: by bus No.29, 402, 502, 512, 608.

Useful Travel Tips

  1. Avoid visiting during school holidays and Golden Week in October as there will be large numbers of local tourists.
  2. Tel: 029-88418127
  3. Reasons to visit: Heaven for artists: Silk embroideries, painting brushes, art paper, custom made stamping.

  4. Highlight
    The shops mainly sell kinds of stationery, calligraphy works, ancient paintings and folk handicrafts. At here you will actually feel the serene air and elegant culture. Now Shuyuanmen Cultural Street has about 200 shops and 100 stalls, they all attract lots of tourists at home and abroad to visit.

Edited by Bella Ren/任新月