Cuandixia Village is located in Zhaitang Town, Mentougou District, about 90 kilometers (31.3 miles) from downtown Beijing. It has a history of about 400 years and preserves more than 70 courtyards with approximately 500 rooms which were built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). This ancient mountain village, the best preserved in China, covers an area of about 10,000 square meters (2.5 acres) and is renowned as the ‘Potala Palace’ of the Beijing area.
The village, surrounded by mountains, stands on the northern gentle slope of the hills and, having being built in harmony with the terrain of the mountains, and it looks like a castle or a mountain city. A winding and rugged lane built from many oddly-shaped stones, winds its way from east to west and divides the village into two groups. There are mainly quadrangle dwellings and a few courtyards with houses on three sides. The houses, which are in good order, have delicate gate piers as well as distinctive screen walls and, along with the stone, wood and brick carvings, reflect our ancient Chinese culture.
Until now, only the Han family lived here. It is said that the ancestors of the village migrated from Shanxi Province during the Yongle period of the Ming Dynasty. The character ‘cuan’ has the meaning of a stove and the villagers named it ‘cuandixia’ with the implication being, of a shelter to keep away the severe cold as well as the scourge of war. In the Qing Dynasty, it was a distributing center for businessmen and goods, so it was very prosperous during that time. Moreover, on the walls, remain the maxims of managing family, inscriptions of the Ming and Qing Dynasties as well as the slogans of Anti-Japanese War period.
The village belongs to the Qingshui River Valley, thus, the grass is lush and trees are luxuriant. Walking in the village, visitors will feel they have entered an ideal world. It is also a natural place to make films and TV plays. The farmers of Cuandixia Village keep in step with the times and they exploit the idea of folk-custom tourism to welcome tourists home and abroad. At evening, there are varied amusements, such as outdoor movies and campfire parties.
On the ancient land of Beijing lies an ancient mountain village with peaceful tranquilities and distinctive characters. It is “the cultural pearl of ancient villages”—”Chuandixia Village”, Which hides itself quietly in the deep valleys in the west of Beijing.
Chuandixia village lies on a ancient post road, 90km far form Beijing. It was first built in the Ming Dynasty, where the Han’s Family has inhabited. After its development for several generations, it became a flourishing inn on the post road. populated by many people. Its economics is dominated by farming, combining farming with trading, ploughing with reading. Chuandixia village, having a long history of several hundreds of years, has retained the beauty of traditional culture. relics and vernacular environments.
Mountains surround Chuandixia village and streams flow through them. The village layout merging with the slopes is quite orderly and harmonic. About 70 various and flexible courtyards were built one by one following the terrain of the slopes. The houses were built with natural stones and wood, the steep stairs and streets paved by the rocks are all simple, natural and colorful. The poetic landscape, the ancient architecture, the emotional carvings and antithetical couplets all express the villager’s love of beauty and the desiring for culture. The environments, where the villagers have inhabited, ploughed and enjoyed themselves for generations are full of serenity, just like “a Land of Peach Blossoms”. In this village, the beauty of nature, artifacts and society have been combined to a unity, producing and idyllic drawing full of vitality. It reflects the traditional concepts of harmony between”human and nature”, “human and human”, “human and society”.
Chuandixia village has the rare value as the “live fossil”. It records the historical development, the intelligence and practicing of the ancestor during the construction of the village. Historical relics from different periods have been reserved.
Chuandixia village has experienced many things and changed much over the time. Although not brilliant any more, it’s still very attractive for its cordial, natural and vivid environment. The well-preserved village and the hilly courtyards, the intense depositions of vernacular culture and the captivating idyllic scenery are all astonishing and splendid.
Cuan Dixia Village is, for most of the time, mispronounced by the Chinese as Chuan Dixia.
With the ancient style and features of this village well preserved, and the buildings divided into two neat rows, Cuandixia Village is known as the “Potala Palace in Beijing”.
This quaint little village is more attractive than you can imagine. The quadrangle courtyards built in the Ming and Qing dynasties are perfectly proportioned, and most of the houses are built with stones from the mountains outside town. Lattice windows, kang beds, fire-red hot peppers, golden corn – everything combines to produce a jubilant atmosphere. In the village, you will also have the chance to taste many delicious dishes, such as braised pork with vermicelli, deep-fried fish, braised tofu, wild-vegetable salad, steamed pumpkin and red bean rice.
This idyllic village offers an excellent study in architecture as well as antique carvings in stone and wood built as decorations of the houses. In the neighborhood of this village are two small temples, one to a god and one to a goddess which can be reached by walking along the separation wall and up the hill. The view from the temple makes the climb very worthwhile.
Cuan Dixia Village is the only village in Beijing that has been listed as a National Village Architecture Reserve. Art and architecture students often go to sketch the houses there. Most of the villagers are surnamed Han, the village head will explain why the village escaped demolishment and war, and guide you around the village, introducing the history and architecture.
Day trip: 08:30 – 18:30
It is 3.5 hours drive from downtown Beijing. The journey back to the city usually takes 2.5 hours. It is an easy walk and some climb along steps on the short hills. We will have lunch at the courtyard home of a villager (local farmer’s home made food rather than fancy food in a decent restaurant).
Address: Cuanbai scenic spot in Zhaitang Town, Mentougou district, Beijing (北京市门头沟区斋堂镇爨柏景区)
Bus Route: Take Bus No. 929 from Pingguoyuan Railway Station (苹果园地铁口) to Zhaitang Town (斋堂), and then take a taxi to the village. There is a bus every hour and the last bus will leave at 3:00 p.m. going back from Zhaitang Town. You can also charter a bus to go to the village directly for about 100 yuan.
Car Route: Cuandixia Village is over 90 kilometers away from Beijing. Turn right at the Shuangyu roundabout (双峪环岛) in Mentougou district toward the Longquan Hotel (龙泉宾馆), and then drive along National Highway 109, following the signs to reach the village.