Olympic feature-Siheyuan hotel

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Beijing presents an amazing blend of tradition and modernism. There is always more to explore. The city is constantly changing and evolving. Today, our reporter Ji Xiaojun discovers some ancient Siheyuan which have been turned to be hotels.

In the modern age where speed and efficiency are essential, Beijing is moving at a fast pace. The roads are wider. The buildings are taller. The city whose history spans over 800 years, has a new look. To distill the essence of the city, one needs to slow the pace, step out of the car -- and experience life on the street.

Ten minutes from the busy tourist shops of Wangfujing Street, we are at the Yanyue Hutong. Some of the ancient courtyard buildings here, now are transformed into modern hotels. Siheyuan means a courtyard -- surrounded by four buildings -- literally. The main house stands at the north of the compound facing south.

The main house stands at the north of the compound facing south. This is where the head of the family once lived. Two ancillary houses stand on either side. The gate to these family compounds usually is located at the southeast corner. A screen is usually set just inside the gate to block the view of passers by.

The configuration of the compound serves to protect the house from bad weather. It's also mean to offer a private space, comfort, quietude. Siheyuan served as homes for many Chinese families for centuries. Many of China's greatest statesmen, artists,writers and thinkers grew up in places just like this.

The Siheyuan was fully evolved as early as the Western Zhou period. That's more than two thousand years ago. Throughout Chinese history, the composition of the quadrangle is the basic arrangements for common homes, palaces and temples.

The Forbidden City is the biggest Siheyuan compound in China. But you can't stay there. Here at a Siheyuan hotel, you can experience the authentic feel of the old Beijing lifestyle.

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