Location: South of Hepingmen
What to buy: ancient books, calligraphy, paintings, rubbings, ink stones and ink, and many other traditional Chinese curios
If antiques or Chinese cultural commodities are your interest, you will likely find it on Liulichang Street, known throughout China and the world for its ancient books, calligraphy, paintings, rubbings, ink stones and ink, and many other traditional Chinese curios and is now the best place to find these items in Beijing. The street is only 750 meters long. Located in the southwestern part of the city, Liulichang still bears the appearance of a Qing Dynasty market street; in the 1980s, the street was renovated and several specialized shops were rebuilt. With brightly painted doors and eaves and gracefully curved black-tile-roofs, it retains a little of the style of old Beijing.
Liulichang derives its name from the Chinese for "Colored Glaze Factory". According to local stories, during the Ming and Qing Dynasties it was much like bohemian haunts in modern cities, where visiting scholars, painters and calligraphers liked to congregate to engage in poetry, painting and writing, with book-sellers and shops selling the four treasures of the ancient scholar (paper, ink brushes, ink stones and ink stamps, also known as chops) opening shops to serve this market. Sellers of antiques, paintings and calligraphy also opened shops within the street so that by the reign of the Qing emperor Kangxi the area had grown into a flourishing cultural centre.
The China Bookstore, Rongbaozhai, and Jiguge are the most famous antique stores in Liulichang. The China Bookstore enjoys a reputation of being the place in Beijing to find second-hand foreign language books. If you enjoy browsing for your purchases, you are in the right place here. Literature, psychology, engineering, history, cookbooks in any language will be found cohabiting the same shelf. There are some rare books among the selection, but you’ll need to know what you want and be patient in your search to walk out with a real bargain.
Those who love antiques or arts and crafts will find it an ideal place to shop, and those who are not planning on spending money may also find it worth going to have a look at the street itself.
Along the street, peddlers hawk snacks, groceries, toys, copper coins; all kind of small commodities. Merchants race to their doors with a welcoming "Ni hao, Ni hao." for all their customers, but they particularly strive to attract any foreigners' attention.
Some offer free seal-carving services and they can even find a perfect Chinese name for you if you like.
For the visitor interested in traditional Chinese art or the four treasures of the ancient scholar, Liulichang Culture Street is an absolute must-see!