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Dongxijiaominxiang is the longest hutong in Beijing, stretching out over 6.5 kilometers. It runs parallel to Chang'an Avenue and lies adjacent to Tiananmen Square, the very center of the capital city.

Dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1386 to 1644 AD), the hutong was a wholesale hub of glutinous rice transported in from China's southern regions along a great canal and got the name Jiangmixiang (Glutinous Rice Alley). Because of its proximity to the Forbidden City, the neighborhood rounded up the offices of government agencies and mansions of senior officials.

After the Qing government was defeated in the Second Opium War (1856 to 1860), Western powers started to set up their embassies in the eastern section of the alley, Dongjiaominxiang became the Legation Quarter. This situation lasted until 1937 when the quarter was officially handed back to the Kuomintang government.

Now, the alley still holds an important position in Chinese history. The old Chinese- and Western-style buildings make it an interesting place to visit.


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