The longest hutong
Most people first heard about this place from history textbooks. Dongjiaominxiang Alley was the location of the embassies of Western powers in China in the late Qing Dynasty, where the embassies of Britain, Russia, Germany, France, Japan, Belgium, the Netherlands and many other countries were housed. During the "Gengzi Mutiny" in 1900, the Boxer Rebellion and the Qing army besieged the embassies and consulates of various countries in this area for two months, and the siege was not lifted until the Eight-Power Allied Forces invaded Beijing.
Dongjiaominxiang Alley starts from Tiananmen Square East Road in the west to Chongwenmennei Street in the east, with a total length of more than 3 miles, making it the longest hutong in Beijing. I started from the entrance of Tongren Hospital at the east end, the long alley was covered by lush street trees on both sides, the road is mostly lined with some typical Western-style buildings, such as red-roofed small houses, Western-style gatehouses, Gothic churches with glass windows ......, strolling in the hutong, immediately felt a strong exotic flavor, a moment as if I had traveled back hundreds of years to the city. For a moment it was as if you had traveled back hundreds of years to the era of ups and downs, witnessed the lively scene of grain trading hundreds of years ago, the officials of the government offices in a hurry and the endless stream of ambassadors, this hutong witnessed the decline of the Qing Dynasty, the Republic of China and the changes in the new China is a symbol of the capital's most significant sense of history and internationalization.
From the Yuan Dynasty to the present
During the Yuan Dynasty, Dongjiaominxiangxiang and Xjiaominxiangxiang were linked together, and because this hutong was then occupied by the agency set up by the court to manage the transport of goods, and because it was close to the Tonghui River outside the city where grain ships were parked, it became a street for grain trading over time, thus earning the name Jiangmixiangxiang. During the Ming Dynasty, the construction of Damingmen and Qipan Street divided Jiangmi Lane into Dongjiang Rice Lane and Xijiang Rice Lane. Because of its proximity to the imperial city, many government offices were located here, including the Ministry of Rites, the Honglu Temple and the Huitong Hall, which managed the affairs of ethnic minorities and foreign relations, and in the Qing Dynasty, the "Welcome Hotel" was built for the temporary residence of foreign envoys.
After China's defeat in the Second Opium War in 1860, according to the treaty, countries could set up embassies and consulates in Beijing, and then all countries chose the area around Dongjiangmixiang as their embassies and consulates, and more than ten countries, including Britain, the United States, France, Russia, Japan, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, set up their embassies and consulates here, and later they opened banks, churches, post offices, hospitals, and other services here. After the Gengzi Incident in 1900, the Treaty of Xinchao was signed, which stipulated that a large area of land from Chongwenmennei Street in the east to Hubei Street in the west, from the city wall in the south to East Chang'an Street in the north was designated as the boundary for foreign embassies, and Chinese were not allowed to live or enter the area. After Chiang Kai-shek established the National Government in Nanjing in 1927, the embassies of various countries moved to Nanjing one after another, but the old site of Dongjiaominxiangxiangxiang was not abolished and was still controlled by various countries.
Some countries that established normal diplomatic relations with the new China after 1949 continued to set up embassies in Dongjiaominxiangxiang. In the 1950s and 1960s, the embassies of various countries in Dongjiaominxiang Alley were moved to Jianguomen, and the history of Dongjiaominxiang Alley as an embassy district came to an end, but a large number of Western-style buildings remained, and many state agencies and enterprises were stationed there. During the Cultural Revolution, Dongjiaominxiang Alley was turned into an "anti-imperialist road" and many old buildings were destroyed. Since the 1980s, due to urban construction needs, some western-style buildings in the alley, such as HSBC, Jardine Matheson, the Russian Embassy, and the former site of Edward Bank, have been demolished, and many modern high-rise buildings have been built around the alley, which has seriously damaged the historical appearance of the whole street.
Other existing foreign buildings in Dongjiaominxiang Alley include the former embassies of France, Britain, the United States, Belgium, Japan, Italy, Austria-Hungary and other countries, as well as the former sites of institutions such as Zhengjin Bank, Citibank, Oriental Exchange Bank, Russian-Chinese Bank, St. Meir's Church, and the French Post Office. Nowadays, most of these places are used as the offices of state organs and enterprises, such as the Beijing Police Museum (the former site of Citibank), the Chinese Courts Museum (the former site of Zhengjin Bank), and the Zijin Hotel (the former site of the Belgian Embassy) and other institutions.
After years of restoration, renovation and planning, Dongjiaominxiang Alley has now become a European-style neighborhood with embassies, churches, banks, official residences and clubs, and is the only remaining Western-style architectural complex in Beijing from the early 20th century. As an important historical site and representative building of modern times, it was approved by the State Council to be included in the fifth batch of national key cultural relics protection units for special protection.
The heaviest history
As a place where embassies and consulates were once concentrated, Dongjiaominxiang Alley naturally witnessed many important historical events, such as the May Fourth Movement students who came to declare their determination for national independence and territorial sovereignty to other countries, many big figures of the Republican era such as Pu Yi, Li Yuanhong, Zhang Xun, Duan Qirui, etc. also hid here, and Li Dazhao was arrested in the Soviet embassy here, but the most well-known is the battle at the beginning of the last century The famous battle, when Cixi declared war on June 20, Gengzi year on eleven countries and ordered the Qing army and the Boxer Rebellion to attack the embassies in East Jiaominxiang until August 14, when the allied forces invaded the inner city of Beijing and the embassy area in East Jiaominxiang, which had been besieged for 56 days, was relieved of its siege.
The attack on the foreign embassies and consulates was not much of a patriotic act, but a farce that turned into a tragedy, with tens of thousands of Boxers attacking East Jiaominxiang Lane for 56 days with the "cooperation" of the well-equipped Qing army, with wave after wave of attacks being repulsed, and batch after batch of Thousands of Boxer soldiers who died in the battle eventually became sacrifices in the siege of the embassy. During the battle, not only the foreign embassies and consulates and the surrounding buildings were destroyed, but also rare books such as the Yongle Da Dian and the Siku Quanshu, the cultural treasures of the Chinese nation, were destroyed by fire.
Since the formation of the Yuan Dynasty, hundreds of years of history of the East Jiaominxiang Lane, neither long nor short, especially the late Qing Dynasty, the great history of change all precipitated in this lane. Walking in the East Jiaominxiang Lane, feeling very complex and heavy, in the feudal ignorance, the Qing government's autocratic rule, when the gap between China and the world's advanced countries is so big, backward will suffer humiliation, this is a very simple truth. In the critical moment when the whole nation was in internal and external troubles, life and death, no matter which class of the society at that time gave their own solutions to save the country and the people, some advocated total westernization; some advocated western learning as the body, secondary school as the use; some advocated improvement; and some wanted revolution .......
The participants of the Boxer Rebellion movement were the lowest class people in China, and in the midst of the national calamity, confined to their own cognitive level, they also naively gave their own program - "support the Qing Dynasty and destroy the foreigners", and in the absence of strong organizational ability and correct direction leading, the Boxer Rebellion has appeared many extreme behaviors in various places, such as burning churches, killing This was an absurd act born in absurd times, and it was also the sorrow and misfortune of our nation. After this change, the Chinese nation has finally stumbled on the road to modernization and self-improvement, but breaking the obscurantism has always been a difficult task for us.
Nowadays, we cannot use contemporary perceptions and ideological theories to sever the connection between architecture and past history, but we should look at that history objectively.