Note: This post is written by Suanne. Ben’s comments are in quotes.
We exited the Tiananmen Square on the south side. We passed through Qian Men which is known as Zhengyang Men.
Zhengyang Men once guarded the southern entry into the Inner City.
Oh it such a waste. I wanted to bring Suanne up to Zhengyang Men to see the exhibition up there. There was an interesting display of life in Beijing in the old days. Too bad, Zhengyang Men was closed for renovation when we were there.
There is another gate of defence besides the Zhengyang Men. There is an Arrow Tower which was connected by side walls and the Zhengyang Men to form a trap area if the enemies were able to pass the Arrow Tower.
The above is some kind of a Mile 1 indicator of Beijing which is located near the Arrow Tower.
It is more of a Mile Zero marker. This marker marks the center of Beijing and also the front gate to Beijing. Actually, this is a new marker which was put up only in recent times. This reminds me of the Mile Zero markers that we had seen in Washington DC and Madrid. So it does look like a copy cat marker.
Another view of the Arrow Tower.
In between the Zhengyang Men and the Arrow Tower is the Qian Men Dajie. Qianmen Dajie is one of the oldest and most famous commercial streets with a 500 year old history.
Well, the name Qianmen simply means Front Gate. This is the front gate to the nation’s capital. This whole place had been renovated really nice while protecting the original character of this important street.
There is a tram track which runs right in the middle of the street. The tram track is to be reminiscent of the “old Beijing”, which was a familiar Beijing sight from 1924 to 1966. The tram’s whole journey is about 10 minutes, crossing the whole breadth of the street of more than 800m.
Qian Men Dajie is lined with time honored shops, including Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant and Yue Sheng Zhai. It is definitely a touristy place.
Lamb skewer from one of the shops. This is the deep fried version. RMB6 (about CAD$1) for one skewer which is not cheap. As I said, this is a touristy place.
In many other place, you can get one for just 2 RMB (35 Canadian cents) although this one is a tad more meatier.
The plum soup is from one of the time honoured shop, A plaque is hung outside the shop which describes the history of the shop.
What I like about Qianmen’s shops is that they are well researched and documented. For foodies and history buff like me, I enjoyed finding out about the food than eating it. A lot of the shops lining Qianmen and the side streets are famous and have operated for over 100 years.
Qian Men Dajie is also decorated with life size statues depicting the businesses along the street.