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Shichahai

Shichahai is a famous scenic area that includes 3 lakes (Qian Hai, meaning Front Sea; Hou Hai, meaning Back Sea and Xi Hai, meaning Western Sea), surrounding places of historic interest and scenic beauty, and remnants of old-style Beijing residences, Hutong and Courtyard. It is located in the northwest part of Beijing, and covers a large area of 146.7 hectares.

The history of Shichahai can be traced to as far back as the Jin dynasty. During the Yuan dynasty, it was the terminal point of the Great Canal, which was a main reason for its prosperity. In the period of the Ming dynasty, when the channels ceased to be as smooth as they used to be, Shichahai changed from a bustling hub to a place of leisure where people could stroll around to admire the vast scenery or enjoy the cool shade under willows trees.

ShichahaiShichahai is always a good place for local Beijingers' recreational life, and in the last 200 years, many governmental officers, celebrities, monks and nuns chose to build mansions, temples and nunneries in Shichahai. That's why Shichahai's attraction lies not only in its natural beauty, but also in the historical value of its architecture. The most famous ones among these historical buildings are Prince Gong's Mansion, Song Qingling Museum, the Former Residence of Mei Lan Fang (the well-known Peking Opera master) and the Great Transformation Temple.

The greatest point of interest in Shichahai today is its residences, Hutong and Courtyard. In and around Beijing City, Shichahai is one of the best places to view well-preserved Hutongs and courtyards. Visiting Hutongs by pedicab has become a popular activity for visitors from China and abroad. The most famous Hutong is Jin Si Tao, which actually includes 18 hutongs and keeps the original layout of Hutong Area. Another one is Yan Dai Xie Jie, meaning an oblique street which looks like a long-stemmed pipe. This street used to be a famous street selling long-stemmed pipes.