When you think of Xicheng district, places which spring to mind might include Shichahai lake, Beihai park, Xidan shopping area, among others.
However, when it comes to history, one of the district’s most prized locations is somewhere that doesn’t necessarily fall within the typical Beijing tourist trail.
Take a walk along the Xihucheng river (西护城河) which runs parallel with Guang’an Men Bei Jie and Guang’an Men Nan Jie, and you’ll comes across plenty of sites related to ‘Ji City’ (蓟城) – the original city which forms the “root” of Beijing as we know it today.
The Xihucheng River
Going Back 3,000 Years
While evidence of human ancestry in Beijing dates back around 700,000 years with the discovery of Peking Man at Zhoukoudian in Fangshan district, Beijing as a city is usually deemed to have a history of around 3,000 years. "Three-thousand years as a city" and "800 years as a capital" might be lines you've heard before.
Zhou Ren Zhi – a former professor of history at Peking University – explains, as quoted in Beijing Daily, that Ji City emerged during the early years of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100BC-771BC).
The strategically-located city finds itself in present-day Xicheng district. Its significance was recognized by the district government of Xuanwu – the former name for Xicheng district – in 1995 when a commemorative pillar was erected in Binhe park beside Xihucheng river.
Continue walking south from the pillar and you’ll come across another monument commemorating the ‘building of Beijing.’
Walk further south still, and you’ll eventually reach Jinzhongdu park, beside which is a small museum documenting the origins of the capital (known in Chinese as jianduzhishi (建都之始)).
How to Get There
While we recognize that this doesn’t necessarily have the same appeal as Temple of Heaven Park, Forbidden City or other big-league Beijing ancient attractions, it could make for a nice afternoon stroll to a part of the capital you might not normally set foot in.
With that in mind, see below how to get there (starting the walk at Binhe Park):
By public transport, you can take Line 7 to Guang’an Men Nei subway station; take Exit A and head west and then north on Guang’an Men Nei Da Jie and Guang’an Men Bei Jie, respectively.
By ride-hailing service, input 滨河公园 (Binhe park).
The north part of the walk
The south part of the walk
READ MORE: Exploring the Beijing Watchtower Which 'Got the Cold Shoulder'
[All images via That's/Alistair Baker-Brian; cover pic of 'Origins of the Capital' Museum]
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