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History Walks for the 2016 October Holiday

The October holiday is upon us and for those of you who will be in Beijing between October 1st and 8th, we have a full slate of walks and discussions around the city. Because it’s the holiday, we’ve chosen some destinations a little bit off of the beaten path or to places which tend feel less crowded. As always, we never cancel a walk. If even one person wants to go, then we are walking that day!

Spaces for each walk are limited. Click on the links below for more information and for reservations.

Saturday, October 1

Traditions and Transitions: A Walk and Discussion in the Hutongs of Dongcheng

Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Cost: 260 RMB (220 RMB for Hutong members)

This walk takes us through the hutongs of the Dongcheng district, once home to some of Beijing’s most fascinating figures. It is also an area with a vibrant present, as old spaces are repurposed as new commercial and residential spaces.


Sunday, October 2

The Scholars, the Intern, and the Scientist: Walk and Discussion in the Imperial City

Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Cost: 260 RMB (220 RMB for Hutong members)

In the heart of Beijing, between the old outer city walls and the golden rooftops of the Forbidden City, there lay a city within a city. The Imperial City. This inner sanctum surrounding the palace and its environs was once home to eunuchs, officials, scholars, and princes. We will explore this area in a walk and discussion which will take us back in time from the home of the May Fourth Movement, the original campus of Peking University, through the back alleys of the imperial city, and along the (recently restored) waterways of the old Mongolian capital.


Wednesday, October 5

The Prince, The Widow, and the Scholar: Walk and Discussion around the Lakes of Beijing

Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Cost: 260 RMB (220 RMB for Hutong members)

The shores of Houhai and the lakes of Beijing have always been a favorite haunt of the city’s elite.  We will explore this area in a walk and discussion which will takes us back to an earlier period of Beijing’s history. We will discuss the imperial brother who saved an empire only to fall victim to the political intrigues of dynastic decline. We will stop by the home of Guo Moruo, one of the most famous scholars of the early 20th century. We will also visit the home of the Sun Yat-sen’s widow, Soong Ching-ling, of the famous Soong family. 


Thursday, October 6

The Emperor and the Lama: A walk and discussion at the Lama Temple and Confucian Temple

Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Cost: 300 RMB (260 RMB for Hutong members)

The Lama Temple (Yonghegong) and the Confucian Temple/Imperial Academy are well-known for their association with Buddhism and Confucianism respectively. But these sites have also long played a significant role in state ideology and the ideology of empire building.


Friday, October 7

Tiananmen and the Making of Modern Beijing:  A Walk and Discussion at Tiananmen Square

Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Cost: 300 RMB (260 RMB for Hutong members)

This walk and discussion will take us through Beijing’s history as an imperial capital and how the abdication of the last dynasty in 1912 and the founding of the PRC in 1949 fundamentally transformed this city.  We’ll visit the Beijing Urban Planning Hall (a fascinating museum in desperate need of a catchier name!), walk through Tiananmen Square, and explore the historic imperial sites of the adjacent Altar of Agriculture (Zhongshan Park) and the Ancestral Temple (Worker’s Cultural Palace). We’ll look at the history of the city, the political significance of Tiananmen, and the ongoing evolution of Beijing from an imperial city to a modern capital.

Saturday, October 8

The Dowager and the Dynasty: A Walk and Discussion at the Summer Palace

Time: 9:00 am – Noon
Cost: 300 RMB (260 RMB for Hutong members)

She ruled China for nearly a half century and is one of the most feared and reviled rulers in all of Chinese history. She is also blamed still for taking money that should have gone to build a navy in defense of the realm and using it instead to construct an elaborate pleasure garden. But the real story of the Empress Dowager Cixi — and the Summer Palace she had built — is far more complicated and fascinating.

Also later this month a special Hacked History Lecture at The Hutong…

Sunday, October 16

Chaos Under Heaven: A Talk about the Taiping Rebellion

Time: 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Cost: 50 RMB (40 RMB for Hutong members and students)

1837. Guangdong Province in Southern China. A young scholar, despondent after failing the imperial exams, has a nervous breakdown. For weeks he is bedridden and delirious. During this time, he has visions of a great golden-bearded gentleman and an elder brother who command the young scholar to go forth and slay demons.

Six years later, the young scholar stumbles upon a missionary pamphlet which gives meaning to his visions. The young scholar is no ordinary man, but the son of God, the younger brother of Jesus Christ.

That young man’s name was Hong Xiuquan and the movement he led nearly toppled an empire. From 1854 to 1863 Hong’s kingdom, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, ruled a large part of central China. Their ideology: a mix of Christian philosophy, social revolution, and Hong’s own unique brand of madness. This was the central event of 19th century. It was the moment when everything changed.