During the Ming and Qing dynasties, a curfew was frequently imposed at night. Barriers (zhalan) erected at both ends of streets and alleys were closed as soon as the curfew came into effect, making passage impossible. According to the imperially commissioned Record of the Major Events of the Great Qing Dynasty, there were more than 1,090 barriers erected in the Inner City area as well as 196 inside the Imperial (Manchu) City. Dazhalan was one of these 1,200-old structures, and although the barrier itself is gone, its name has remained.

Dazhalan 大栅栏, literally the "Great Fence," was from early times the site of a busy market. In the years of Emperor Yongle (reigned 1403-1424), it was crowded with shops, and as trading in the city became concentrated around the Zhengyangmen area, Dazhalan developed into a popular market. In 1900, when the Eight-Power Allied Forces attacked Beijing, Dazhalan was reduced to a heap of rubble, although it was quickly rebuilt as it stands today.

1 - Huguang Guild

Huguang GuildThe Beijing Huguang Guild Hall was first built in 1807.The grand theatre and ziwu well are all remains of the original buildings, and famous actors Tanxinpei, Yu shuyan and Mei lanfang once gave performance in this guild hall. Dr. Sun Yat-sen presided over the conference of the founding of the KMT in the guild hall in 1912.

2 - Daguanlou

DaguanlouDaguanlou was originally the Masiyuan Teahouse, which was built in 1900. People, especially men, would go to the Masiyuan to sip tea and watch some Beijing Opera, which originated in the 1700s. Eight years after the invention of the movie in Paris in 1895, the Masiyuan's owner Ren Jingfeng decided to show short movies on a piece of white cloth suspended on stage between acts. This began the age of the silver screen in China. Movies remained an exclusively foreign art form until 1905 when Ren produced Ding Junshan (Conquering Mount Jun) the first-ever Chinese movie. He bought a movie camera in a German store in Beijing, and asked Tan Xinpei, the then famous Beijing Opera actor, to star in it. The ten-minute-long movie was filmed in front of Ren's studio and shown in Daguanlou Cinema. It was a hit. It's said that the rest of Beijing seemed empty, because everyone was at Daguanlou. Movie fever had caught on.

3 - Dazhalan

DazhalanDuring the Ming and Qing dynasties, a curfew was frequently imposed at night. Barriers (zhalan) erected at both ends of streets and alleys were closed as soon as the curfew came into effect, making passage impossible. According to the imperially commissioned Record of the Major Events of the Great Qing Dynasty, there were more than 1,090 barriers erected in the Inner City area as well as 196 inside the Imperial (Manchu) City. Dazhalan was one of these 1,200-old structures, and although the barrier itself is gone, its name has remained.