The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace
Mar
19
10:00 AM10:00

The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace

The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is one of the most notorious figures in Modern Chinese history. For nearly a half-century, she used her cunning and connections to rule China from behind the throne. Even today, many historians in China blame her for spending too much money building an elaborate pleasure garden at a time when the empire faced grave threats from without and within.

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

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In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
Mar
20
9:00 AM09:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

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The Ming and the Manchus: A Walk and Discussion at the Forbidden City
Mar
23
10:00 AM10:00

The Ming and the Manchus: A Walk and Discussion at the Forbidden City

For nearly 600 years, the Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties governed China from behind the high red walls of the Forbidden City. This walk and discussion looks at what life was like in the palace for the men and women who lived and worked there. 

We will talk about the differences between the two dynasties. The Ming were a Chinese dynasty, founded in 1368 by a commoner who rose to become emperor. The Qing Dynasty was founded by the Manchus, a people from what is today Northeast China. Beginning in 1644, the Qing Empire ruled China by conquest.

Although the Qing Dynasty ended in 1912, the imperial legacy continues to influence China’s present and future.

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Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion
Mar
24
2:00 PM14:00

Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion

For much of China’s modern history, the area around Tiananmen has been the political epicenter of the Chinese nation. It is the beating heart of Beijing and the stage for some of history's most dramatic moments. This walk and discussion will take us through Beijing’s past from its days as an imperial capital through the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and down to the present day.

During this two-hour walk, we’ll visit the Beijing Urban Planning Hall (a fascinating museum in desperate need of a catchier name!) and explore Tiananmen Square. We will conclude our stroll by taking in two of Beijing’s most beautiful parks, both former imperial spaces that were part of the Forbidden City. Along the way, we’ll also discuss the political significance of Tiananmen, the events which have made Tiananmen Square famous around the world, and the ongoing evolution of Beijing from imperial capital to a modern megalopolis.

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Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng
Mar
28
10:00 AM10:00

Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng

  • Beixinqiao Metro Stop (Line 5) Exit D (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways. Our exploration takes us through the hutongs of the Dongcheng District, once home to some of Beijing’s most fascinating figures. We will discuss the history of the hutongs, who lived there and why.

But this walk is more than just history. The hutongs are the living breathing fabric of Beijing. They represent Beijing’s future, as old spaces are repurposed into new commercial and residential developments. The past year has seen sweeping changes to Beijing's urban landscape. The government boarded up small shops and forced some residents out of the city center. What does this mean for the preservation of these historic neighborhoods and the people who live there? How have the pressures of urban development affected the communities who live in Beijing's historic center? 

While we wander the hutongs, we'll also check in on local markets, taste some of the snacks on offer from local sellers, and immerse ourselves in the culture of Old Beijing.

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Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace
Mar
30
10:00 AM10:00

Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace

The Old Summer Palace contain the ruins of Yuanmingyuan, one of a series of lavish imperial gardens destroyed in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Today the shattered pillars, stone foundations, and abandoned archways are a vivid reminder to visitors of the “Century of Humiliation” and the tragedy of imperialism in 19th-century China. The events of that century continue to play a role in shaping how China views the world today.

We will discuss the background to the Opium Wars and how the memories of the imperialist era are kept alive as part of China’s contemporary political culture. Along the way, we will wander the ruins and explore one of Beijing’s most beautiful historic parks.

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The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple
Apr
3
10:00 AM10:00

The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple

The Yonghegong (Lama Temple) and the Confucian Temple are physical reflections of Buddhism and Confucianism respectively, but both these sites have also long played a role in state ritual and the ideology of empire.  

At the Confucian Temple and the adjoining Imperial Academy, students, officials, and rulers came to venerate the Great Sage and to study for the examinations which were the gateway to power and elite status in imperial China.

At Yonghegong (The Lama Temple), we will consider how the emperors of the Qing Dynasty appropriated the forms of Tibetan Buddhism by consecrating a holy space in their capital even as their armies were steadily moving westward across the Tibetan Plateau. The historical connection between empire building and Buddhism in Tibet continues to have profound implications for the relationship between the government and the people of that region.

This walk will explore both sites and offer insight into the history of Confucianism and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism while exploring two of Beijing's most famous and celebrated historic sites.

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In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
Apr
4
9:00 AM09:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

View Event →
The Spy, the Widow, and the Last Emperor: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing
Apr
5
10:00 AM10:00

The Spy, the Widow, and the Last Emperor: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing

The hutong neighborhoods of Xicheng are less visited – and less touristy – than those of the eastern part of the city. They also were once home to some of Beijing’s most famous faces. We’ll explore the lakeshores and hidden alleys west of the Drum Tower. Along the way, we’ll visit the home of Song Qingling, the widow of the revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, who stayed behind when the rest of her family fled to Taiwan in 1949. We’ll also see the mansion where the Last Emperor was born and walk down the hutong where Kang Sheng, Mao Zedong’s notorious spymaster once lurked. Along the way, we’ll also explore the history of some of Beijing’s lesser traveled byways and observe life in Beijing’s hutong neighborhoods.

View Event →
Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng
Apr
6
10:00 AM10:00

Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways. Our exploration takes us through the hutongs of the Dongcheng District, once home to some of Beijing’s most fascinating figures. We will discuss the history of the hutongs, who lived there and why.

But this walk is more than just history. The hutongs are the living breathing fabric of Beijing. They represent Beijing’s future, as old spaces are repurposed into new commercial and residential developments. The past year has seen sweeping changes to Beijing's urban landscape. The government boarded up small shops and forced some residents out of the city center. What does this mean for the preservation of these historic neighborhoods and the people who live there? How have the pressures of urban development affected the communities who live in Beijing's historic center? 

While we wander the hutongs, we'll also check in on local markets, taste some of the snacks on offer from local sellers, and immerse ourselves in the culture of Old Beijing.

View Event →
Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing
Apr
7
1:30 PM13:30

Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s unique local culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways while also visiting essential landmarks along the edge of the old city.  Our walk will take us through the neighborhoods around Dengshikou and Dongsi which during the late-19th and early-20th centuries was where many of Old Peking's elite lived and worked.

We'll discuss the lives of missionaries, scientists, diplomats, ministers, and Hua Guofeng, the unfortunate successor to Chairman Mao. We'll also look at daily life in the hutong neighborhoods of Beijing and talk about the evolution of these spaces and what the future development of Beijing means for the preservation of historic neighborhoods in the capital.

We'll also visit the Zhihua Temple and watch a performance of Ming Dynasty court music performed on traditional instruments and spend some time exploring the Shijia Hutong Museum, one of the best museums in the city.

View Event →
May Fourth and the Birth of Modern China: A Walk and Discussion
Apr
9
10:00 AM10:00

May Fourth and the Birth of Modern China: A Walk and Discussion

The year was 1919. Just seven years earlier, a revolution had swept away the last crumbling vestiges of the old imperial system. From the ashes of the Qing Dynasty, a new republic was born and then betrayed. Since then, China had become a failed state. Much of the country was in the hands of warlords or foreign powers outside the control of a weak and corrupt government in Beijing. 

The generation which came of age in this decade would rise to the challenges of the era. On May 4, 1919, they took to the streets of Beijing in a massive demonstration which gave birth to Modern China. Their experiences and ideas during what became known as the May Fourth Era left a powerful legacy which continues nearly a century later. 

This two-hour walk and discussion will visit the epicenter of the May Fourth Movement: the original campus of Peking University. There we will meet the scholars and students who defined a generation and gave rise to a nation. 

We'll also discuss the end of the empire and the rise and fall of the Republic of China, and the origins of the Chinese Communist Party as we explore some of the hidden byways around the old campus and visit the relics and residences of Beijing's old intelligentsia. 

View Event →
Warriors, Workers, and Wanderers: The Tiananmen Northern Trail
Apr
12
10:00 AM10:00

Warriors, Workers, and Wanderers: The Tiananmen Northern Trail

This walk begins at Wangfujing, the longtime commercial heart of Beijing, and then traverses the Imperial Quarter which included the Forbidden City and some of the most important monuments and temples in the old capital. While this walk doesn’t go into the Forbidden City, we’ll be walking along the palace moat and walls while we visit the old Ancestral Temple, the Altar of Grain and Soil (now a park named for revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen) before strolling back past Tiananmen and the portrait of Chairman Mao. We’ll have lots to discuss about China’s recent (and not so recent) history as well as dishing on the Chairman, Sun Yat-sen, and the aptly named Dorgon, the Manchu prince who conquered Beijing in 1644 and helped establish the last dynasty to rule China.

View Event →
Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace
Apr
16
10:00 AM10:00

Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace

The Old Summer Palace contain the ruins of Yuanmingyuan, one of a series of lavish imperial gardens destroyed in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Today the shattered pillars, stone foundations, and abandoned archways are a vivid reminder to visitors of the “Century of Humiliation” and the tragedy of imperialism in 19th-century China. The events of that century continue to play a role in shaping how China views the world today.

We will discuss the background to the Opium Wars and how the memories of the imperialist era are kept alive as part of China’s contemporary political culture. Along the way, we will wander the ruins and explore one of Beijing’s most beautiful historic parks.

View Event →
Beijing's Imperial Parks and Gardens: A Walk and Discussion
Apr
17
10:00 AM10:00

Beijing's Imperial Parks and Gardens: A Walk and Discussion

Beihai and Jingshan Park are two of the most famous and beautiful parks of Beijing. For centuries these former imperial gardens were off limits to commoners. Today, they are important historic landmarks as well as a gathering place for Beijingers. This walk blends imperial architecture, history, and local life in one two-hour experience. We’ll explore these parks and talk about how the emperors and their families enjoyed these spaces. We’ll also encounter local folks engaging in all kinds of activities from dancing to singing to martial arts. We’ll climb up Jingshan (about a 5- to 10-minute walk) and get a 360-degree view of the old city and we will also visit Hortensia Island in Beihai Park to see some of the oldest existing artifacts in Beijing.

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In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
Apr
18
9:00 AM09:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

View Event →
The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace
Apr
20
1:00 PM13:00

The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace

The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is one of the most notorious figures in Modern Chinese history. For nearly a half-century, she used her cunning and connections to rule China from behind the throne. Even today, many historians in China blame her for spending too much money building an elaborate pleasure garden at a time when the empire faced grave threats from without and within.

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

View Event →
Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion
Apr
21
2:00 PM14:00

Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion

For much of China’s modern history, the area around Tiananmen has been the political epicenter of the Chinese nation. It is the beating heart of Beijing and the stage for some of history's most dramatic moments. This walk and discussion will take us through Beijing’s past from its days as an imperial capital through the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and down to the present day.

During this two-hour walk, we’ll visit the Beijing Urban Planning Hall (a fascinating museum in desperate need of a catchier name!) and explore Tiananmen Square. We will conclude our stroll by taking in two of Beijing’s most beautiful parks, both former imperial spaces that were part of the Forbidden City. Along the way, we’ll also discuss the political significance of Tiananmen, the events which have made Tiananmen Square famous around the world, and the ongoing evolution of Beijing from imperial capital to a modern megalopolis.

View Event →
The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace
Apr
26
10:00 AM10:00

The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace

The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is one of the most notorious figures in Modern Chinese history. For nearly a half-century, she used her cunning and connections to rule China from behind the throne. Even today, many historians in China blame her for spending too much money building an elaborate pleasure garden at a time when the empire faced grave threats from without and within.

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

View Event →
Heavens and Hells: Journeys through Old and New Beijing
Apr
27
10:00 AM10:00

Heavens and Hells: Journeys through Old and New Beijing

At first glance, Beijing’s bustling Central Business District seems like an odd place to search for Old Peking…but it’s there if you know where to look.  An observatory built for looking to the heavens. An altar to the sun. A temple depicting the different fates which await sinners in the afterlife. This walk will explore the old among the new, as we travel through modern Beijing in a quest to uncover the past. Along the way, we’ll also discuss the development of this area from extramural suburbs to the hub of new Beijing.

View Event →
Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace
Apr
28
1:00 PM13:00

Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace

The Old Summer Palace contain the ruins of Yuanmingyuan, one of a series of lavish imperial gardens destroyed in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Today the shattered pillars, stone foundations, and abandoned archways are a vivid reminder to visitors of the “Century of Humiliation” and the tragedy of imperialism in 19th-century China. The events of that century continue to play a role in shaping how China views the world today.

We will discuss the background to the Opium Wars and how the memories of the imperialist era are kept alive as part of China’s contemporary political culture. Along the way, we will wander the ruins and explore one of Beijing’s most beautiful historic parks.

View Event →
Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing
Apr
29
1:30 PM13:30

Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s unique local culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways while also visiting essential landmarks along the edge of the old city.  Our walk will take us through the neighborhoods around Dengshikou and Dongsi which during the late-19th and early-20th centuries was where many of Old Peking's elite lived and worked.

We'll discuss the lives of missionaries, scientists, diplomats, ministers, and Hua Guofeng, the unfortunate successor to Chairman Mao. We'll also look at daily life in the hutong neighborhoods of Beijing and talk about the evolution of these spaces and what the future development of Beijing means for the preservation of historic neighborhoods in the capital.

We'll also visit the Zhihua Temple and watch a performance of Ming Dynasty court music performed on traditional instruments and spend some time exploring the Shijia Hutong Museum, one of the best museums in the city.

View Event →
The Spy, the Widow, and the Last Emperor: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing
May
1
10:00 AM10:00

The Spy, the Widow, and the Last Emperor: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing

The hutong neighborhoods of Xicheng are less visited – and less touristy – than those of the eastern part of the city. They also were once home to some of Beijing’s most famous faces. We’ll explore the lakeshores and hidden alleys west of the Drum Tower. Along the way, we’ll visit the home of Song Qingling, the widow of the revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, who stayed behind when the rest of her family fled to Taiwan in 1949. We’ll also see the mansion where the Last Emperor was born and walk down the hutong where Kang Sheng, Mao Zedong’s notorious spymaster once lurked. Along the way, we’ll also explore the history of some of Beijing’s lesser traveled byways and observe life in Beijing’s hutong neighborhoods.

View Event →
In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
May
3
9:00 AM09:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

View Event →
The Centennial of the May Fourth Movement and the Birth of Modern Discussion: Lecture and Discussion
May
4
2:00 PM14:00

The Centennial of the May Fourth Movement and the Birth of Modern Discussion: Lecture and Discussion

A century ago, within the humble walls of a red brick building just to the east of the Forbidden City, an intellectual revolution was underway. Beijing was ground zero for the May Fourth/New Culture Movement. Iconoclastic firebrands like Chen Duxiu were publishing new magazines. Young intellectuals like Hu Shi were returning from abroad with new ideas about philosophy, language, and history. The librarian Li Dazhao spent his time writing essays on Bolshevism and revolutionary change. Even his intern, a chubby kid recently arrived from Hunan, would go on to play a major role in China's turbulent 20th century. Overseeing it all was Cai Yuanpei, classically trained and German-educated, who changed the academic climate at Peking University and sowed the seeds of intellectual change.

We'll meet these famous figures and the New Culture Movement in a special lecture and discussion commemorating the May 4th Movement. Why was the May Fourth Era so important? Why was it such an intellectual dynamic period? How did the May Fourth Demonstrations of 1919 change the intellectual climate and set the stages for the political divisions which would soon tear China apart?

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Warriors, Workers, and Wanderers: The Tiananmen Northern Trail
May
5
1:00 PM13:00

Warriors, Workers, and Wanderers: The Tiananmen Northern Trail

This walk begins at Wangfujing, the longtime commercial heart of Beijing, and then traverses the Imperial Quarter which included the Forbidden City and some of the most important monuments and temples in the old capital. While this walk doesn’t go into the Forbidden City, we’ll be walking along the palace moat and walls while we visit the old Ancestral Temple, the Altar of Grain and Soil (now a park named for revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen) before strolling back past Tiananmen and the portrait of Chairman Mao. We’ll have lots to discuss about China’s recent (and not so recent) history as well as dishing on the Chairman, Sun Yat-sen, and the aptly named Dorgon, the Manchu prince who conquered Beijing in 1644 and helped establish the last dynasty to rule China.

View Event →
Traditions and Transitions: An Introduction to Beijing’s Hutongs
May
6
10:00 AM10:00

Traditions and Transitions: An Introduction to Beijing’s Hutongs

  • Beixinqiao Metro Stop (Line 5) Exit D (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways. Our exploration takes us through the hutongs of the Dongcheng District, once home to some of Beijing’s most fascinating figures. We will discuss the history of the hutongs, who lived there and why.

But this walk is more than just history. The hutongs are the living breathing fabric of Beijing. They represent Beijing’s future, as old spaces are repurposed into new commercial and residential developments. The past year has seen sweeping changes to Beijing's urban landscape. The government boarded up small shops and forced some residents out of the city center. What does this mean for the preservation of these historic neighborhoods and the people who live there? How have the pressures of urban development affected the communities who live in Beijing's historic center? 

View Event →
The Scholar, the Prince, and the Diva: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing
May
8
1:00 PM13:00

The Scholar, the Prince, and the Diva: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing

  • Beihai North (Line 6) Metro Stop, Exit B (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

They couldn’t have been more different from each other. One was a Manchu Prince, one of the most important officials serving the last Dynasty. Another was a brilliant scholar who would eventually become the house intellectual in another imperial court, that of Chairman Mao Zedong. Finally, Mei Lanfang was one of the famous stars of Peking opera. He was well known for his stunning portrayal of female roles on stage. Yet all three made their home in the shaded hutongs of Beijing’s lakes district. We’ll visit their homes and palaces and discuss the lives and times of these famous figures from Beijing’s past.

View Event →
May Fourth and the Birth of Modern China: A Walk and Discussion
May
9
10:00 AM10:00

May Fourth and the Birth of Modern China: A Walk and Discussion

The year was 1919. Just seven years earlier, a revolution had swept away the last crumbling vestiges of the old imperial system. From the ashes of the Qing Dynasty, a new republic was born and then betrayed. Since then, China had become a failed state. Much of the country was in the hands of warlords or foreign powers outside the control of a weak and corrupt government in Beijing. 

The generation which came of age in this decade would rise to the challenges of the era. On May 4, 1919, they took to the streets of Beijing in a massive demonstration which gave birth to Modern China. Their experiences and ideas during what became known as the May Fourth Era left a powerful legacy which continues nearly a century later. 

This two-hour walk and discussion will visit the epicenter of the May Fourth Movement: the original campus of Peking University. There we will meet the scholars and students who defined a generation and gave rise to a nation. 

We'll also discuss the end of the empire and the rise and fall of the Republic of China, and the origins of the Chinese Communist Party as we explore some of the hidden byways around the old campus and visit the relics and residences of Beijing's old intelligentsia. 

View Event →
The Spy, the Widow, and the Last Emperor: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing
May
14
10:00 AM10:00

The Spy, the Widow, and the Last Emperor: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing

The hutong neighborhoods of Xicheng are less visited – and less touristy – than those of the eastern part of the city. They also were once home to some of Beijing’s most famous faces. We’ll explore the lakeshores and hidden alleys west of the Drum Tower. Along the way, we’ll visit the home of Song Qingling, the widow of the revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, who stayed behind when the rest of her family fled to Taiwan in 1949. We’ll also see the mansion where the Last Emperor was born and walk down the hutong where Kang Sheng, Mao Zedong’s notorious spymaster once lurked. Along the way, we’ll also explore the history of some of Beijing’s lesser traveled byways and observe life in Beijing’s hutong neighborhoods.

View Event →
Heavens and Hells: Journeys through Old and New Beijing
May
15
10:00 AM10:00

Heavens and Hells: Journeys through Old and New Beijing

At first glance, Beijing’s bustling Central Business District seems like an odd place to search for Old Peking…but it’s there if you know where to look.  An observatory built for looking to the heavens. An altar to the sun. A temple depicting the different fates which await sinners in the afterlife. This walk will explore the old among the new, as we travel through modern Beijing in a quest to uncover the past. Along the way, we’ll also discuss the development of this area from extramural suburbs to the hub of new Beijing.

View Event →
Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace
May
16
10:00 AM10:00

Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace

The Old Summer Palace contain the ruins of Yuanmingyuan, one of a series of lavish imperial gardens destroyed in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Today the shattered pillars, stone foundations, and abandoned archways are a vivid reminder to visitors of the “Century of Humiliation” and the tragedy of imperialism in 19th-century China. The events of that century continue to play a role in shaping how China views the world today.

We will discuss the background to the Opium Wars and how the memories of the imperialist era are kept alive as part of China’s contemporary political culture. Along the way, we will wander the ruins and explore one of Beijing’s most beautiful historic parks.

View Event →
Barbarians, Rogues, and Rebels: The Story of Beijing’s Legation Quarter
May
17
10:00 AM10:00

Barbarians, Rogues, and Rebels: The Story of Beijing’s Legation Quarter

This walk takes us through Beijing’s former legation quarter and straight into the heart of Old Peking. Forced upon Beijing’s residents by gun and treaty, the legation quarter was a world unto itself where a polyglot community of diplomats, soldiers, spies, criminals, and commercial enterprises flourished surrounded by the decay of the imperial capital.  

We’ll discuss the history of Beijing’s international settlement and meet some of the people who lived there. We’ll look at such pivotal events as the Anglo-French invasion of 1860, the Boxer War, and the Japanese Occupation. Along the way, we’ll search for what remains of the architectural legacy left by the pre-revolutionary foreign community and dish on some of the dark secrets, strange tales, and unsolved mysteries which still haunt the streets and lanes of the Legation Quarter and its environs.

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The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace
May
18
1:00 PM13:00

The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace

The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is one of the most notorious figures in Modern Chinese history. For nearly a half-century, she used her cunning and connections to rule China from behind the throne. Even today, many historians in China blame her for spending too much money building an elaborate pleasure garden at a time when the empire faced grave threats from without and within.

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

View Event →
The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple
May
19
1:00 PM13:00

The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple

The Yonghegong (Lama Temple) and the Confucian Temple are physical reflections of Buddhism and Confucianism respectively, but both these sites have also long played a role in state ritual and the ideology of empire.  

At the Confucian Temple and the adjoining Imperial Academy, students, officials, and rulers came to venerate the Great Sage and to study for the examinations which were the gateway to power and elite status in imperial China.

At Yonghegong (The Lama Temple), we will consider how the emperors of the Qing Dynasty appropriated the forms of Tibetan Buddhism by consecrating a holy space in their capital even as their armies were steadily moving westward across the Tibetan Plateau. The historical connection between empire building and Buddhism in Tibet continues to have profound implications for the relationship between the government and the people of that region.

This walk will explore both sites and offer insight into the history of Confucianism and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism while exploring two of Beijing's most famous and celebrated historic sites.

View Event →
In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
May
20
9:00 AM09:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

View Event →
Traditions and Transitions: An Introduction to Beijing’s Hutongs
May
21
10:00 AM10:00

Traditions and Transitions: An Introduction to Beijing’s Hutongs

  • Beixinqiao Metro Stop (Line 5) Exit D (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways. Our exploration takes us through the hutongs of the Dongcheng District, once home to some of Beijing’s most fascinating figures. We will discuss the history of the hutongs, who lived there and why.

But this walk is more than just history. The hutongs are the living breathing fabric of Beijing. They represent Beijing’s future, as old spaces are repurposed into new commercial and residential developments. The past year has seen sweeping changes to Beijing's urban landscape. The government boarded up small shops and forced some residents out of the city center. What does this mean for the preservation of these historic neighborhoods and the people who live there? How have the pressures of urban development affected the communities who live in Beijing's historic center? 

View Event →
Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion
May
22
2:00 PM14:00

Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion

For much of China’s modern history, the area around Tiananmen has been the political epicenter of the Chinese nation. It is the beating heart of Beijing and the stage for some of history's most dramatic moments. This walk and discussion will take us through Beijing’s past from its days as an imperial capital through the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and down to the present day.

During this two-hour walk, we’ll visit the Beijing Urban Planning Hall (a fascinating museum in desperate need of a catchier name!) and explore Tiananmen Square. We will conclude our stroll by taking in two of Beijing’s most beautiful parks, both former imperial spaces that were part of the Forbidden City. Along the way, we’ll also discuss the political significance of Tiananmen, the events which have made Tiananmen Square famous around the world, and the ongoing evolution of Beijing from imperial capital to a modern megalopolis.

View Event →
Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing
May
28
1:30 PM13:30

Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s unique local culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways while also visiting essential landmarks along the edge of the old city.  Our walk will take us through the neighborhoods around Dengshikou and Dongsi which during the late-19th and early-20th centuries was where many of Old Peking's elite lived and worked.

We'll discuss the lives of missionaries, scientists, diplomats, ministers, and Hua Guofeng, the unfortunate successor to Chairman Mao. We'll also look at daily life in the hutong neighborhoods of Beijing and talk about the evolution of these spaces and what the future development of Beijing means for the preservation of historic neighborhoods in the capital.

We'll also visit the Zhihua Temple and watch a performance of Ming Dynasty court music performed on traditional instruments and spend some time exploring the Shijia Hutong Museum, one of the best museums in the city.

View Event →
Warriors, Workers, and Wanderers: The Tiananmen Northern Trail
May
29
10:00 AM10:00

Warriors, Workers, and Wanderers: The Tiananmen Northern Trail

This walk begins at Wangfujing, the longtime commercial heart of Beijing, and then traverses the Imperial Quarter which included the Forbidden City and some of the most important monuments and temples in the old capital. While this walk doesn’t go into the Forbidden City, we’ll be walking along the palace moat and walls while we visit the old Ancestral Temple, the Altar of Grain and Soil (now a park named for revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen) before strolling back past Tiananmen and the portrait of Chairman Mao. We’ll have lots to discuss about China’s recent (and not so recent) history as well as dishing on the Chairman, Sun Yat-sen, and the aptly named Dorgon, the Manchu prince who conquered Beijing in 1644 and helped establish the last dynasty to rule China.

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Heavens and Hells: Journeys through Old and New Beijing
Jun
2
10:00 AM10:00

Heavens and Hells: Journeys through Old and New Beijing

At first glance, Beijing’s bustling Central Business District seems like an odd place to search for Old Peking…but it’s there if you know where to look.  An observatory built for looking to the heavens. An altar to the sun. A temple depicting the different fates which await sinners in the afterlife. This walk will explore the old among the new, as we travel through modern Beijing in a quest to uncover the past. Along the way, we’ll also discuss the development of this area from extramural suburbs to the hub of new Beijing.

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Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace
Jun
4
10:00 AM10:00

Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace

The Old Summer Palace contain the ruins of Yuanmingyuan, one of a series of lavish imperial gardens destroyed in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Today the shattered pillars, stone foundations, and abandoned archways are a vivid reminder to visitors of the “Century of Humiliation” and the tragedy of imperialism in 19th-century China. The events of that century continue to play a role in shaping how China views the world today.

We will discuss the background to the Opium Wars and how the memories of the imperialist era are kept alive as part of China’s contemporary political culture. Along the way, we will wander the ruins and explore one of Beijing’s most beautiful historic parks.

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The Spy, the Widow, and the Last Emperor: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing
Jun
8
10:00 AM10:00

The Spy, the Widow, and the Last Emperor: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing

The hutong neighborhoods of Xicheng are less visited – and less touristy – than those of the eastern part of the city. They also were once home to some of Beijing’s most famous faces. We’ll explore the lakeshores and hidden alleys west of the Drum Tower. Along the way, we’ll visit the home of Song Qingling, the widow of the revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, who stayed behind when the rest of her family fled to Taiwan in 1949. We’ll also see the mansion where the Last Emperor was born and walk down the hutong where Kang Sheng, Mao Zedong’s notorious spymaster once lurked. Along the way, we’ll also explore the history of some of Beijing’s lesser traveled byways and observe life in Beijing’s hutong neighborhoods.

View Event →
In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
Jun
9
9:00 AM09:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

View Event →
Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng
Jun
11
10:00 AM10:00

Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng

  • Beixinqiao Metro Stop (Line 5) Exit D (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways. Our exploration takes us through the hutongs of the Dongcheng District, once home to some of Beijing’s most fascinating figures. We will discuss the history of the hutongs, who lived there and why.

But this walk is more than just history. The hutongs are the living breathing fabric of Beijing. They represent Beijing’s future, as old spaces are repurposed into new commercial and residential developments. The past year has seen sweeping changes to Beijing's urban landscape. The government boarded up small shops and forced some residents out of the city center. What does this mean for the preservation of these historic neighborhoods and the people who live there? How have the pressures of urban development affected the communities who live in Beijing's historic center? 

While we wander the hutongs, we'll also check in on local markets, taste some of the snacks on offer from local sellers, and immerse ourselves in the culture of Old Beijing.

View Event →
Beijing's Imperial Parks and Gardens: A Walk and Discussion
Jun
14
10:00 AM10:00

Beijing's Imperial Parks and Gardens: A Walk and Discussion

Beihai and Jingshan Park are two of the most famous and beautiful parks of Beijing. For centuries these former imperial gardens were off limits to commoners. Today, they are important historic landmarks as well as a gathering place for Beijingers. This walk blends imperial architecture, history, and local life in one two-hour experience. We’ll explore these parks and talk about how the emperors and their families enjoyed these spaces. We’ll also encounter local folks engaging in all kinds of activities from dancing to singing to martial arts. We’ll climb up Jingshan (about a 5- to 10-minute walk) and get a 360-degree view of the old city and we will also visit Hortensia Island in Beihai Park to see some of the oldest existing artifacts in Beijing.

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The Scholar, the Prince, and the Diva: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing
Jun
18
10:00 AM10:00

The Scholar, the Prince, and the Diva: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing

  • Beihai North (Line 6) Metro Stop, Exit B (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

They couldn’t have been more different from each other. One was a Manchu Prince, one of the most important officials serving the last Dynasty. Another was a brilliant scholar who would eventually become the house intellectual in another imperial court, that of Chairman Mao Zedong. Finally, Mei Lanfang was one of the famous stars of Peking opera. He was well known for his stunning portrayal of female roles on stage. Yet all three made their home in the shaded hutongs of Beijing’s lakes district. We’ll visit their homes and palaces and discuss the lives and times of these famous figures from Beijing’s past.

View Event →
The Spy, the Widow, and the Last Emperor: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing
Jun
19
10:00 AM10:00

The Spy, the Widow, and the Last Emperor: A Walk and Discussion in the Historic Hutongs of Beijing

The hutong neighborhoods of Xicheng are less visited – and less touristy – than those of the eastern part of the city. They also were once home to some of Beijing’s most famous faces. We’ll explore the lakeshores and hidden alleys west of the Drum Tower. Along the way, we’ll visit the home of Song Qingling, the widow of the revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, who stayed behind when the rest of her family fled to Taiwan in 1949. We’ll also see the mansion where the Last Emperor was born and walk down the hutong where Kang Sheng, Mao Zedong’s notorious spymaster once lurked. Along the way, we’ll also explore the history of some of Beijing’s lesser traveled byways and observe life in Beijing’s hutong neighborhoods.

View Event →
Barbarians, Rogues, and Rebels: The Story of Beijing’s Legation Quarter
Jun
20
10:00 AM10:00

Barbarians, Rogues, and Rebels: The Story of Beijing’s Legation Quarter

This walk takes us through Beijing’s former legation quarter and straight into the heart of Old Peking. Forced upon Beijing’s residents by gun and treaty, the legation quarter was a world unto itself where a polyglot community of diplomats, soldiers, spies, criminals, and commercial enterprises flourished surrounded by the decay of the imperial capital.  

We’ll discuss the history of Beijing’s international settlement and meet some of the people who lived there. We’ll look at such pivotal events as the Anglo-French invasion of 1860, the Boxer War, and the Japanese Occupation. Along the way, we’ll search for what remains of the architectural legacy left by the pre-revolutionary foreign community and dish on some of the dark secrets, strange tales, and unsolved mysteries which still haunt the streets and lanes of the Legation Quarter and its environs.

View Event →
Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion
Jun
21
2:00 PM14:00

Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion

For much of China’s modern history, the area around Tiananmen has been the political epicenter of the Chinese nation. It is the beating heart of Beijing and the stage for some of history's most dramatic moments. This walk and discussion will take us through Beijing’s past from its days as an imperial capital through the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and down to the present day.

During this two-hour walk, we’ll visit the Beijing Urban Planning Hall (a fascinating museum in desperate need of a catchier name!) and explore Tiananmen Square. We will conclude our stroll by taking in two of Beijing’s most beautiful parks, both former imperial spaces that were part of the Forbidden City. Along the way, we’ll also discuss the political significance of Tiananmen, the events which have made Tiananmen Square famous around the world, and the ongoing evolution of Beijing from imperial capital to a modern megalopolis.

View Event →
In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
Jun
23
9:00 AM09:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

View Event →
The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace
Jun
24
10:00 AM10:00

The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace

The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is one of the most notorious figures in Modern Chinese history. For nearly a half-century, she used her cunning and connections to rule China from behind the throne. Even today, many historians in China blame her for spending too much money building an elaborate pleasure garden at a time when the empire faced grave threats from without and within.

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

View Event →
Heavens and Hells: Journeys through Old and New Beijing
Jun
27
10:00 AM10:00

Heavens and Hells: Journeys through Old and New Beijing

At first glance, Beijing’s bustling Central Business District seems like an odd place to search for Old Peking…but it’s there if you know where to look.  An observatory built for looking to the heavens. An altar to the sun. A temple depicting the different fates which await sinners in the afterlife. This walk will explore the old among the new, as we travel through modern Beijing in a quest to uncover the past. Along the way, we’ll also discuss the development of this area from extramural suburbs to the hub of new Beijing.

View Event →

Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing
Mar
17
1:30 PM13:30

Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s unique local culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways while also visiting essential landmarks along the edge of the old city.  Our walk will take us through the neighborhoods around Dengshikou and Dongsi which during the late-19th and early-20th centuries was where many of Old Peking's elite lived and worked.

We'll discuss the lives of missionaries, scientists, diplomats, ministers, and Hua Guofeng, the unfortunate successor to Chairman Mao. We'll also look at daily life in the hutong neighborhoods of Beijing and talk about the evolution of these spaces and what the future development of Beijing means for the preservation of historic neighborhoods in the capital.

We'll also visit the Zhihua Temple and watch a performance of Ming Dynasty court music performed on traditional instruments and spend some time exploring the Shijia Hutong Museum, one of the best museums in the city.

View Event →
Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng
Mar
14
10:00 AM10:00

Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng

  • Beixinqiao Metro Stop (Line 5) Exit D (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways. Our exploration takes us through the hutongs of the Dongcheng District, once home to some of Beijing’s most fascinating figures. We will discuss the history of the hutongs, who lived there and why.

But this walk is more than just history. The hutongs are the living breathing fabric of Beijing. They represent Beijing’s future, as old spaces are repurposed into new commercial and residential developments. The past year has seen sweeping changes to Beijing's urban landscape. The government boarded up small shops and forced some residents out of the city center. What does this mean for the preservation of these historic neighborhoods and the people who live there? How have the pressures of urban development affected the communities who live in Beijing's historic center? 

While we wander the hutongs, we'll also check in on local markets, taste some of the snacks on offer from local sellers, and immerse ourselves in the culture of Old Beijing.

View Event →
Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing
Mar
3
1:30 PM13:30

Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s unique local culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways while also visiting essential landmarks along the edge of the old city.  Our walk will take us through the neighborhoods around Dengshikou and Dongsi which during the late-19th and early-20th centuries was where many of Old Peking's elite lived and worked.

We'll discuss the lives of missionaries, scientists, diplomats, ministers, and Hua Guofeng, the unfortunate successor to Chairman Mao. We'll also look at daily life in the hutong neighborhoods of Beijing and talk about the evolution of these spaces and what the future development of Beijing means for the preservation of historic neighborhoods in the capital.

We'll also visit the Zhihua Temple and watch a performance of Ming Dynasty court music performed on traditional instruments and spend some time exploring the Shijia Hutong Museum, one of the best museums in the city.

View Event →
The Awkward Position of Missionaries in Chinese History: A Talk and Discussion
Mar
2
2:00 PM14:00

The Awkward Position of Missionaries in Chinese History: A Talk and Discussion

From the time of Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit missions of the 16th century, missionaries have played an important role in Chinese history. By the 19th century, the missionary promised both new forms of educational and hygienic modernity while also being seen by the people as a possible threat to the established order in this world and beyond. How did the people of late imperial China perceive missionaries?

In 1870, tales of kidnapping and sorcery swirled around the city of Tianjin. The local magistrate wants to investigate the charges of witchcraft being made against a group of Catholic nuns. The French consul insists the missionaries are protected from prosecution by treaties signed with the Chinese government. In the middle is a hapless Manchu official unable to keep the peace. On June 21, 1870, the city of Tianjin exploded into a day of rage and violence which shocked the world and revealed the perilous position of missionaries in 19th century China.

Join writer, historian, and storyteller Jeremiah Jenne for this talk and discussion about the role missionaries played in Chinese history.

View Event →
The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple
Feb
28
1:00 PM13:00

The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple

The Yonghegong (Lama Temple) and the Confucian Temple are physical reflections of Buddhism and Confucianism respectively, but both these sites have also long played a role in state ritual and the ideology of empire.  

At the Confucian Temple and the adjoining Imperial Academy, students, officials, and rulers came to venerate the Great Sage and to study for the examinations which were the gateway to power and elite status in imperial China.

At Yonghegong (The Lama Temple), we will consider how the emperors of the Qing Dynasty appropriated the forms of Tibetan Buddhism by consecrating a holy space in their capital even as their armies were steadily moving westward across the Tibetan Plateau. The historical connection between empire building and Buddhism in Tibet continues to have profound implications for the relationship between the government and the people of that region.

This walk will explore both sites and offer insight into the history of Confucianism and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism while exploring two of Beijing's most famous and celebrated historic sites.

View Event →
In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
Feb
24
9:00 AM09:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

View Event →
Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing
Nov
30
1:30 PM13:30

Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s unique local culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways while also visiting essential landmarks along the edge of the old city.  Our walk will take us through the neighborhoods around Dengshikou and Dongsi which during the late-19th and early-20th centuries was where many of Old Peking's elite lived and worked.

We'll discuss the lives of missionaries, scientists, diplomats, ministers, and Hua Guofeng, the unfortunate successor to Chairman Mao. We'll also look at daily life in the hutong neighborhoods of Beijing and talk about the evolution of these spaces and what the future development of Beijing means for the preservation of historic neighborhoods in the capital.

We'll also visit the Zhihua Temple and watch a performance of Ming Dynasty court music performed on traditional instruments and spend some time exploring the Shijia Hutong Museum, one of the best museums in the city.

View Event →
The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple
Nov
29
10:00 AM10:00

The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple

The Yonghegong (Lama Temple) and the Confucian Temple are physical reflections of Buddhism and Confucianism respectively, but both these sites have also long played a role in state ritual and the ideology of empire.  

At the Confucian Temple and the adjoining Imperial Academy, students, officials, and rulers came to venerate the Great Sage and to study for the examinations which were the gateway to power and elite status in imperial China.

At Yonghegong (The Lama Temple), we will consider how the emperors of the Qing Dynasty appropriated the forms of Tibetan Buddhism by consecrating a holy space in their capital even as their armies were steadily moving westward across the Tibetan Plateau. The historical connection between empire building and Buddhism in Tibet continues to have profound implications for the relationship between the government and the people of that region.

This walk will explore both sites and offer insight into the history of Confucianism and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism while exploring two of Beijing's most famous and celebrated historic sites.

View Event →
The Ming and the Manchus: A Walk and Discussion at the Forbidden City
Nov
24
10:00 AM10:00

The Ming and the Manchus: A Walk and Discussion at the Forbidden City

For nearly 600 years, the Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties governed China from behind the high red walls of the Forbidden City. This walk and discussion looks at what life was like in the palace for the men and women who lived and worked there. 

We will talk about the differences between the two dynasties. The Ming were a Chinese dynasty, founded in 1368 by a commoner who rose to become emperor. The Qing Dynasty was founded by the Manchus, a people from what is today Northeast China. Beginning in 1644, the Qing Empire ruled China by conquest.

Although the Qing Dynasty ended in 1912, the imperial legacy continues to influence China’s present and future.

View Event →
In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
Nov
18
2:00 PM14:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

View Event →
Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion
Nov
17
2:00 PM14:00

Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion

  • Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

For much of China’s modern history, the area around Tiananmen has been the political epicenter of the Chinese nation. It is the beating heart of Beijing and the stage for some of history's most dramatic moments. This walk and discussion will take us through Beijing’s past from its days as an imperial capital through the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and down to the present day.

During this two-hour walk, we’ll visit the Beijing Urban Planning Hall (a fascinating museum in desperate need of a catchier name!) and explore Tiananmen Square. We will conclude our stroll by taking in two of Beijing’s most beautiful parks, both former imperial spaces that were part of the Forbidden City. Along the way, we’ll also discuss the political significance of Tiananmen, the events which have made Tiananmen Square famous around the world, and the ongoing evolution of Beijing from imperial capital to a modern megalopolis.

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The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace
Nov
4
1:00 PM13:00

The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace

The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is one of the most notorious figures in Modern Chinese history. For nearly a half-century, she used her cunning and connections to rule China from behind the throne. Even today, many historians in China blame her for spending too much money building an elaborate pleasure garden at a time when the empire faced grave threats from without and within.

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

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Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng
Nov
1
1:00 PM13:00

Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng

  • Beixinqiao Metro Stop (Line 5) Exit D (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s distinctive local culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways. Our exploration takes us through the hutongs of the Dongcheng District, once home to some of Beijing’s most fascinating figures. We will discuss the history of the hutongs, who lived there and why.

But this walk is more than  just history. The hutongs are the living breathing fabric of Beijing. They represent Beijing’s future, as old spaces are repurposed into new commercial and residential developments. The past year has seen sweeping changes to Beijing's urban landscape. The government boarded up small shops and forced some residents out of the city center. What does this mean for the preservation of these historic neighborhoods and the people who live there? How have the pressures of urban development affected the communities who live in Beijing's historic center? 

While we wander the hutongs, we'll also check in on local markets, taste some of the snacks on offer from local sellers, and immerse ourselves in the culture of Old Beijing.

Walk Duration: About two to three hours

Our walk begins at Beixinqiao in the heart of historic Beijing and will end near the Drum Tower and Houhai/Shichahai Lakes District in a location with several convenient dining, refreshment, and transportation options.

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The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace
Oct
28
1:00 PM13:00

The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace

The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is one of the most notorious figures in Modern Chinese history. For nearly a half-century, she used her cunning and connections to rule China from behind the throne. Even today, many historians in China blame her for spending too much money building an elaborate pleasure garden at a time when the empire faced grave threats from without and within.

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

View Event →
Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion
Oct
21
2:00 PM14:00

Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion

For much of China’s modern history, the area around Tiananmen has been the political epicenter of the Chinese nation. It is the beating heart of Beijing and the stage for some of history's most dramatic moments. This walk and discussion will take us through Beijing’s past from its days as an imperial capital through the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and down to the present day.

During this two-hour walk, we’ll visit the Beijing Urban Planning Hall (a fascinating museum in desperate need of a catchier name!) and explore Tiananmen Square. We will conclude our stroll by taking in two of Beijing’s most beautiful parks, both former imperial spaces that were part of the Forbidden City. Along the way, we’ll also discuss the political significance of Tiananmen, the events which have made Tiananmen Square famous around the world, and the ongoing evolution of Beijing from imperial capital to a modern megalopolis.

View Event →
In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
Oct
20
2:00 PM14:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

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May Fourth and the Birth of Modern China: A Walk and Discussion
Oct
18
1:00 PM13:00

May Fourth and the Birth of Modern China: A Walk and Discussion

The year was 1919. Just seven years earlier, a revolution had swept away the last crumbling vestiges of the old imperial system. From the ashes of the Qing Dynasty, a new republic was born and then betrayed. Since then, China had become a failed state. Much of the country was in the hands of warlords or foreign powers outside the control of a weak and corrupt government in Beijing. 

The generation which came of age in this decade would rise to the challenges of the era. On May 4, 1919 they took to the streets of Beijing in a massive demonstration which gave birth to Modern China. Their experiences and ideas during what became known as the May Fourth Era left a powerful legacy which continues nearly a century later. 

This two-hour walk and discussion will visit the epicenter of the May Fourth Movement: the original campus of Peking University. There we will meet the scholars and students who defined a generation and gave rise to a nation. 

We'll also discuss the end of the empire and the rise and fall of the Republic of China, and the origins of the Chinese Communist Party as we explore some of the hidden byways around the old campus and visit the relics and residences of Beijing's old intelligentsia. 

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The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple
Oct
14
1:00 PM13:00

The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple

The Yonghegong (Lama Temple) and the Confucian Temple are physical reflections of Buddhism and Confucianism respectively, but both these sites have also long played a role in state ritual and the ideology of empire.  

At the Confucian Temple and the adjoining Imperial Academy, students, officials, and rulers came to venerate the Great Sage and to study for the examinations which were the gateway to power and elite status in imperial China.

At Yonghegong (The Lama Temple), we will consider how the emperors of the Qing Dynasty appropriated the forms of Tibetan Buddhism by consecrating a holy space in their capital even as their armies were steadily moving westward across the Tibetan Plateau. The historical connection between empire building and Buddhism in Tibet continues to have profound implications for the relationship between the government and the people of that region.

This walk will explore both sites and offer insight into the history of Confucianism and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism while exploring two of Beijing's most famous and celebrated historic sites.

View Event →
Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng
Oct
12
1:00 PM13:00

Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng

  • Beixinqiao Metro Stop (Line 5) Exit D (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s distinctive local culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways. Our exploration takes us through the hutongs of the Dongcheng District, once home to some of Beijing’s most fascinating figures. We will discuss the history of the hutongs, who lived there and why.

But this walk is more than  just history. The hutongs are the living breathing fabric of Beijing. They represent Beijing’s future, as old spaces are repurposed into new commercial and residential developments. The past year has seen sweeping changes to Beijing's urban landscape. The government boarded up small shops and forced some residents out of the city center. What does this mean for the preservation of these historic neighborhoods and the people who live there? How have the pressures of urban development affected the communities who live in Beijing's historic center? 

While we wander the hutongs, we'll also check in on local markets, taste some of the snacks on offer from local sellers, and immerse ourselves in the culture of Old Beijing.

Walk Duration: About two to three hours

Our walk begins at Beixinqiao in the heart of historic Beijing and will end near the Drum Tower and Houhai/Shichahai Lakes District in a location with several convenient dining, refreshment, and transportation options.

View Event →
The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace
Oct
10
1:00 PM13:00

The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace

The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is one of the most notorious figures in Modern Chinese history. For nearly a half-century, she used her cunning and connections to rule China from behind the throne. Even today, many historians in China blame her for spending too much money building an elaborate pleasure garden at a time when the empire faced grave threats from without and within.

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

View Event →
Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion
Oct
7
2:00 PM14:00

Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing: A Walk and Discussion

For much of China’s modern history, the area around Tiananmen has been the political epicenter of the Chinese nation. It is the beating heart of Beijing and the stage for some of history's most dramatic moments. This walk and discussion will take us through Beijing’s past from its days as an imperial capital through the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and down to the present day.

During this two-hour walk, we’ll visit the Beijing Urban Planning Hall (a fascinating museum in desperate need of a catchier name!) and explore Tiananmen Square. We will conclude our stroll by taking in two of Beijing’s most beautiful parks, both former imperial spaces that were part of the Forbidden City. Along the way, we’ll also discuss the political significance of Tiananmen, the events which have made Tiananmen Square famous around the world, and the ongoing evolution of Beijing from imperial capital to a modern megalopolis.

View Event →
In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
Oct
5
2:00 PM14:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

View Event →
Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace
Oct
1
1:00 PM13:00

Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace

The Old Summer Palace contain the ruins of Yuanmingyuan, one of a series of lavish imperial gardens destroyed in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Today the shattered pillars, stone foundations, and abandoned archways are a vivid reminder to visitors of the “Century of Humiliation” and the tragedy of imperialism in 19th-century China. The events of that century continue to play a role in shaping how China views the world today.

We will discuss the background to the Opium Wars and how the memories of the imperialist era are kept alive as part of China’s contemporary political culture. Along the way, we will wander the ruins and explore one of Beijing’s most beautiful historic parks.

View Event →
The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple
Sep
30
10:00 AM10:00

The Emperor and the Lama: A Walk and Discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple

The Yonghegong (Lama Temple) and the Confucian Temple are physical reflections of Buddhism and Confucianism respectively, but both these sites have also long played a role in state ritual and the ideology of empire.  

At the Confucian Temple and the adjoining Imperial Academy, students, officials, and rulers came to venerate the Great Sage and to study for the examinations which were the gateway to power and elite status in imperial China.

At Yonghegong (The Lama Temple), we will consider how the emperors of the Qing Dynasty appropriated the forms of Tibetan Buddhism by consecrating a holy space in their capital even as their armies were steadily moving westward across the Tibetan Plateau. The historical connection between empire building and Buddhism in Tibet continues to have profound implications for the relationship between the government and the people of that region.

This walk will explore both sites and offer insight into the history of Confucianism and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism while exploring two of Beijing's most famous and celebrated historic sites.

View Event →
Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing
Sep
29
1:30 PM13:30

Missionaries, Ministers, and Musicians: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Beijing

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s unique local culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways while also visiting essential landmarks along the edge of the old city.  Our walk will take us through the neighborhoods around Dengshikou and Dongsi which during the late-19th and early-20th centuries was where many of Old Peking's elite lived and worked.

We'll discuss the lives of missionaries, scientists, diplomats, ministers, and Hua Guofeng, the unfortunate successor to Chairman Mao. We'll also look at daily life in the hutong neighborhoods of Beijing and talk about the evolution of these spaces and what the future development of Beijing means for the preservation of historic neighborhoods in the capital.

We'll also visit the Zhihua Temple and watch a performance of Ming Dynasty court music performed on traditional instruments and spend some time exploring the Shijia Hutong Museum, one of the best museums in the city.

The walk will take about three hours and begin and end at the Dengshikou Metro Stop (Line 5).

Duration: About three hours

View Event →
Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng
Sep
27
10:00 AM10:00

Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng

  • Beixinqiao Metro Stop (Line 5) Exit D (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

One of Beijing’s most distinctive urban features, the hutongs have long been at the heart of the capital’s distinctive local culture. This walk explores the past, present, and future of the hutongs, Beijing’s network of historic alleyways. Our exploration takes us through the hutongs of the Dongcheng District, once home to some of Beijing’s most fascinating figures. We will discuss the history of the hutongs, who lived there and why.

But this walk is more than  just history. The hutongs are the living breathing fabric of Beijing. They represent Beijing’s future, as old spaces are repurposed into new commercial and residential developments. The past year has seen sweeping changes to Beijing's urban landscape. The government boarded up small shops and forced some residents out of the city center. What does this mean for the preservation of these historic neighborhoods and the people who live there? How have the pressures of urban development affected the communities who live in Beijing's historic center? 

While we wander the hutongs, we'll also check in on local markets, taste some of the snacks on offer from local sellers, and immerse ourselves in the culture of Old Beijing.

Walk Duration: About two to three hours

Our walk begins at Beixinqiao in the heart of historic Beijing and will end near the Drum Tower and Houhai/Shichahai Lakes District in a location with several convenient dining, refreshment, and transportation options.

View Event →
The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace
Sep
23
10:00 AM10:00

The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace

The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is one of the most notorious figures in Modern Chinese history. For nearly a half-century, she used her cunning and connections to rule China from behind the throne. Even today, many historians in China blame her for spending too much money building an elaborate pleasure garden at a time when the empire faced grave threats from without and within.

But the real story of the Empress  Dowager  Cixi -- and the Summer Palace she built -- is more complicated.

As we stroll along the lakeshores and hillsides of her magnificent creation, we will discuss the life and legacy of this fascinating historical figure. We'll consider the reasons behind her scandalous reputation as we look at the final years of the Qing Dynasty, the last empire to rule China. 

View Event →
In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven
Sep
22
9:00 AM09:00

In the Footsteps of the Emperor: A Walk and Discussion at the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven features some of the most iconic architecture in Beijing. It is also one of the city's largest public parks and a gathering place for Beijingers of all ages. Nowhere else does the city’s past and present exist so prominently side by side. 

During this two-hour walk, we will explore the Temple of Heaven complex and discuss its ritual and historical significance. We will also examine the connections between past and present and how ancient forms of political legitimacy linger into the 21st century. 

Along the way, we will have a chance to witness the vibrant culture of one of Beijing’s largest parks. We might see dancers, musicians, martial artists, even parents matchmaking their (often unsuspecting) grown children!

View Event →
Manchus in the Palace: Myths, Legends, and History at the Forbidden City
Sep
15
2:00 PM14:00

Manchus in the Palace: Myths, Legends, and History at the Forbidden City

Interested in learning more about the Forbidden City but prefer to avoid the crowds and the lines? History guy Jeremiah Jenne brings the best of his Forbidden City walk and talk to the comfortable confines of The Hutong. Learn about the backstory of Beijing as an imperial capital and the construction of the Forbidden City. We’ll explore the history of the emperors, eunuchs, officials, and concubines who lived and worked there. We’ll discuss the differences between Ming and Qing, the legacy of the Manchus, and the past, present, and future efforts to preserve Beijing’s most famous palace. Jeremiah will also share his favorite travel hacks for visiting the palace!

View Event →
Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace
Sep
11
10:00 AM10:00

Imperialism, Opium, and Nationalism: A Walk and Discussion at the Old Summer Palace

  • Yuanmingyuan Metro Stop Exit B (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

The Old Summer Palace contain the ruins of Yuanmingyuan, one of a series of lavish imperial gardens destroyed in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Today the shattered pillars, stone foundations, and abandoned archways are a vivid reminder to visitors of the “Century of Humiliation” and the tragedy of imperialism in 19th-century China. The events of that century continue to play a role in shaping how China views the world today.

We will discuss the background to the Opium Wars and how the memories of the imperialist era are kept alive as part of China’s contemporary political culture. Along the way, we will wander the ruins and explore one of Beijing’s most beautiful historic parks. From May to October, we will also get a chance to see parts of the park by boat as well as by foot.

View Event →