Name: Xijiaomin Lane, West Jiaomin Lane, Xijiaomin Xiang
Chinese Name: 西交民巷
Length: 1,000 meters (3,280 feet)
Location: Stretching west from Tiananmen Square West Road to North Xinhua Street
To the west of the Tiananmen Square, there is a classical western-style building, which stands at the east end of an old hutong - Xijiaomin (West Jiaomin) Lane. Unlike the crowded square, this hutong is very quiet. However, from the late Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) to the end of the 20th century, it was the busy 'Financial Street of Old Beijing' filled with Chinese-funded banks, such as the Central Bank Peking Branch, the Agriculture and Industry Bank of China, the Continental Bank, and the Commercial Guarantee Bank of the Beiyang Government. As you walk along this hutong with its magnificent old bank sites, you can imagine the prosperity of this former financial area.
The grand office building at the east end is Continental Bank, constructed in 1924. It is a five-story western classical mansion, with large granite blocks as its base. Different from the nearby Chinese-style Tiananmen Tower
and Great Hall of People
, this building presents its own charm with a red dome and a bell tower holding a master-slave clock on the roof. It was one of the few western-style bank buildings designed by Chinese architects that were comparable with the foreign bank buildings on Dongjiaomin Lane
, the former legation quarter to the east of the Tiananmen Square.
Commercial Guarantee Bank of the Beiyang Government
To the west of the Continental Bank is the Commercial Guarantee Bank of the Beiyang Government. It was a sino-foreign joint bank founded in 1910. It is a three-story construction with six Greek-style granite columns, and vertical brown-glass windows and doors. Today it is the China Numismatic Museum
, displaying a large collection of notes and coins of different times from different countries.
Starting from the east end of Xijiaomin Lane, the third bank building on the north is Central Bank. It is a two-story structure composed of both western and Chinese architecture styles. There is a simple and elegant veranda gate in the southwest corner. The gallery behind it, with an annular balcony on the top, is supported by four doorposts. You need to pass a few marble steps to get to the door and the vivid eagle statue above it.
There is a short lane on the west side of the building, through which you can get to the south gate of the Great Hall of People.
Daqing Bank of the Qing Dynasty, the earliest central bank in China, was founded in 1905. It was the oldest bank in Xijiaomin Lane, located at the intersection with Renmin Dahuitang West Road. Unfortunately, the two-story building was taken down in 1982, and now only a western arch with a grey carved iron-gate remains in the doorway. On the two sides of it are old houses with grey walls and black tiles. There is no plaque telling its story, making this site very inconspicuous.
How to get to Xijiaomin Lane
Take Subway Line 2
to Qianmen Station (Exit C), and walk north to find the east end of the lane. Get off at Hepingmen Station (Exit A2 or B2) and then walk north to the west end.
1. Take Bus 9, 66, or Te 2 to Beijing Gongdianju, and then walk north for 200 meters (220 yards) to the lane.
2. Take Bus 9, 22, 44, 67, 332, Te 2, Te 4, or Te 7, get off at Qianmen Xi and then walk north for about 300 meters (330 yards) to the east part of the lane; or get off at Hepingmen Dong and then walk east for 2 minutes. Turn north and walk for 3 minutes, you will get to the west part.Beijing Bus / Subway Search
Attraction around Xijiaomin Lane: Lao She Teahouse