Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street is located in the Nankai District of the Tianjin Municipality and was formally opened in 1986. It is located on the west bank of the Haihe River, with Tianhou Palace as its geographical center.
Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street begins at Gongbei Avenue in the north, and ends at Gongnan Avenue in the south, being 0.36 miles long and 16 feet wide. Although essentially a business street, Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street attracts tourists who come to see its special architectural styles, admire its classic cultural features, buy various folk crafts, and sample the delicious local Tianjin snacks.
Above all, as visitors walk along the street, they will be particularly impressed by the splendid replica classical architecture in the folk style of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Standing at the center of Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street, Tianhou Palace, originally built in 1326, is one of only three Mazu Temples in the world (the other two are Fujian Mazu Temple and Beigang Chaotian Temple on Taiwan Island).
Tianhou Palace is now the Folk-custom Museum of Tianjin and displays many folk crafts and cultural relics of ancient times. Yuhuang Cabinet (Yuhuang Ge) is the only building that was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in Tianjin, and is the oldest structure in the street.
From the top of the two-floor Cabinet, visitors have a bird's-eye view of the whole street. Another building, Tong Qingli (ancient residential houses), built in 1913 and lying to the east of the cultural street, is the largest architectural edifice that combines both eastern and western architectural elements.
Looking closely, visitors will note that buildings along the street are all built with 'blue bricks', and that the doors and windows have colorful paintings drawn upon them. These paintings range from stories of legendary and historical figures to flowers and birds.
Some retell stories contained in Chinese classical novels, such as The Dream of a Red Mansion (one the four Chinese classical novels) and Song of Eternal Sorrow, which is a story about the Empress Yang Kwei Fei in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Visitors who are interested in Chinese traditional handicrafts will also appreciate another Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street attraction - the hundreds of stores selling a wide variety of folk handicrafts. These include the famous Yang Liuqing New Year Paintings and Niren Zhang Painted Sculptures.
Visitors who are fond of Chinese curios, such as jade items, cloisonné and potteries, will also be able to find many examples of these for sale here. The street is also a favorite place to sample the delicious Tianjin local snacks. The local delicacies include Goubuli Steamed Dumplings, Erduoyan (the Ear-hole Lane) Fried Glutinous Cakes and tea soup.
Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street is designed as a place for tourists to experience Chinese folk custom, and as such, contains examples of nearly all the Tianjin local culture in one place. For an added experience, when visiting the street on March 23rd (lunar calendar), visitors will be lucky enough to find the Huanghui Fair, which is held annually on this date. During the Fair you will see performances of stilt walking, dragon lantern, land boat and lion dances.
Admission fee: Free of charge; 3 yuan for Tianhou Palace.
Bus route: 1, 4, 12, 15, 611, 612, 619, 624, 824
(travelchinaguide.com July 25, 2007)