Gao's Grand Courtyard
Gao's Grand Courtyard, or Gao Family Mansion, is the former residence of Gao Yuesong, an official of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). With a history of 400 years, it is one of the best-persevered traditional residences in Xian City. With an inconspicuous gate at No.144 Beiyuanmen Street, the busy Muslim Quarter in central Xian, the Gao's Grand Courtyard offers a quiet seclusion for visitors to enjoy the traditional Chinese culture. Here one can appreciate the old houses and antique furniture, watch the shadow puppetry, and learn Chinese crafts like painting and paper-cutting.
The Gao Family
Gao Yuesong, the host of this mansion, attained the second level of the Imperial Examination during the reign of the Ming Emperor Chongzhen (1628 – 1644). As a capable official, he was rewarded this mansion by Chongzhen. Since then, this family became an official aristocratic family with seven generations becoming officials of the royal court.
Layout and Traditional Family Culture
Gao's Grand Courtyard has two courts, the north court and the south court, and each court contains four small yards. There are 86 rooms in total, 56 of them open to the public, including the bedroom of the host, reception room, ancestral hall, and backyard garden.
This mansion presents a unique family culture, making you feel like dropping by a friend's house. Besides the traditional buildings and furniture, you can really take part in this courtyard by joining in many activities, such as learning traditional skills like painting and paper-cutting, and enjoying the shadow plays. Staff will be dressed as the members of Gao family in important festivals, taking you back to the olden times in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 – 1911).
Watching shadow puppetry is a must when you visit Gao's Grand Courtyard. It is a traditional folk art in China, telling you stories by manipulating puppets against the screen in front of the lamplight. Once you enter the mansion, there is a small room with an old-style opera stage on your right. There is no fixed performance schedule. You can go inside and wait a few minutes. The show will begin when the audience is large enough.
The plays usually tell of legends and stories popularized in the folk. The skilled players sing the opera lines in Shaanxi dialect, which infuse a bit of local color, making shadow puppetries in this mansion, distinct from that in other regions. With the traditional opera and the quaint settings of the room, you will be totally attracted into the show.
How to Get to Gao's Grand Courtyard:
Take Metro Line 2, get off at Bell Tower Station, and get out from Exit B. Find the Drum Tower to the northwest of the Bell Tower and walk north to the Muslim Quarter through Beiyuanmen Street. Walk around 5 minutes to find the courtyard on the west side of the street.
Take bus 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 26, 29, 32, 35, 36, 37, 43, 45, 46, 118, 201, 203, 205, 206, 208, 214, 215, 218, 221, 222, 229, 235, 251, 252, 300, 302, 502, 600, K600, 603, 604, K605, 606, 608, 609, 611, 612, K618, K630, 706, Tourist Bus Line 7, Tourist Bus Line 8 (610)...and get off at Bell Tower Station. Follow the above direction to find the mansion.
Xian Bus / Metro Search
|Entrance Fee||CNY 15|
|Entrance Ticket +||Shadow Play or Marionette||CNY 30|
|Shadow Play + Paper-cutting||CNY 60|
|Paper-cutting or Painting||CNY 45|
|Paper-cutting + Painting||CNY 75|
|Shadow Play + Marionette||CNY 45|
|Shadow Play + Painting + Paper-cutting||CNY 90|
Shadow Play: 10:00-21:00
Recommended Nearby Attractions:
1. Drum Tower
2. Bell Tower
3. Great Mosque
4. City God Temple