The Wide and Narrow Alley of Chengdu, known as “Kuanzhai Xiangzi” in Chinese, is one of the “Three Famous Historical Relics of Chengdu” along with Daci and Wenshu Monasteries. This place was first built during the reign of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) as the residence for their Manchu soldiers.
The Wide and Narrow Alleys have well-preserved historic architecture and although more than half of the structures are new, there are many buildings that only renovated their original architectural style. However, these renovations have changed the feel of the neighborhood a little bit by adding some touches such as French-style windows. The alleys here were only residential until 2003 but everything changed when the local government decided to transform the area into a commercial and tourism zone.
History of the Wide and Narrow Alley
The area of the Wide and Narrow Alley was called “Shaocheng” during the Qing Dynasty. Back then, it was the house of the Eight Banners of the Manchu, which were military and administrative people of China’s last imperial dynasty.
Access to this area was not permitted to the Han people; however, when the regime changed and the communists took over the whole country, they moved their own people into the area. In the end, the people of Chengdu received Shaocheng again.
This part of Chengdu had many mansions inside and after the mentioned incidents, many of them were transformed into homes for the people. Wide and Narrow Alley, which used to be the wealthy part of Chengdu, changed into a poor part that lasted for half a century.
Chinese families occupied each mansion and each family took a room as their place of residence. The large beautiful halls that one day had chandeliers inside, then had smoked meats and laundry hanging off of them, and the regal gardens, which used to be a place for the rich, transformed into a place for noodles shops and tea houses.
In 2003, everything changed. The local government decided to fix the alley up in order to protect the historic buildings and make the living conditions better. The local government planned to develop this area into a destination for commercial and tourism purposes.
The government started to buy or trade houses and relocated the dwellers living there. There were around 900 people living there; however, most of them relocated, and only about 100 people were left in the area.
The government gained the financial part of its plan to buy the houses from outside sources that included some foreign investments. After renovations and reconstructions, the area became a tourist spot where souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes cater to visitors.
Different Sections of the Wide and Narrow Alley
This section of the Wide and Narrow Alley is a perfect place for Leisure time. During the Qing Dynasty, it was called “Xingren”. Today, this part has a theme of leisure and tradition representing Chengdu folk culture. Inside Wide Alley, there are many boutique hotels, traditional teahouses, unique folk-style restaurants, bars, etc., which can bring the visitors a feel of old Chengdu.
Chengdu Real-Life Experience Hall
Chengdu Real-Life Experience Hall museum is also located here. This museum is an exciting place to gain a better understanding of the ordinary family’s daily life throughout the Republic of China (1912–1949). Inside the museum, there are scenes of a kitchen, central room, study room, and bridal chamber of that time. Make sure to visit this gallery.
At night, you can try snacks and barbecue food under the old trees of the neighborhood. You can also see art performances such as puppet plays, shadow plays, and Chinese calligraphy in the area too.
Narrow Alley has a slower environment in comparison with the other one. To reach the Narrow Alley, you need to walk south-north through the passageway starting in the Wide Alley. This section was called “Taiping” in the Qing Dynasty era, displaying more of a western theme. The architectural style of the area has an atmosphere of international styles from Germany, France, America, Italy, Japan, and India.
The Narrow alley is a wonderful place to spend a quiet afternoon by retail, coffee, western food, and themed culture salons both in the long alley and the courtyards.
Jing Alley (Well Alley)
Jing Alley represents the more modern side of the city. It was named “Ruyi” during the Qing Dynasty, and today it hosts many pubs, nightclubs, and characteristic restaurants, which make it a nice place to have a taste of colorful modern nightlife in Chengdu.
The Wide and Narrow Alley and Kung Fu Panda
The globally famous Kung Fu Panda movie has used many of its elements from the Chinese as the story happens in China. It has been said that the design for the city, local shops, streets, and architecture of the movie have been inspired by the Wide and Narrow Alley of Chengdu.
|Kuanzhai Xiangzi Station||Bus 51, 62, 70, 93, 126, 127, 163, and 340 help you to reach the Kuanzhai Xiangzi Station|
|Jinhe Road||Bus 5, 13, 43, 47, 51, 58, 64, 64 Express, 78, and 163 help you to reach Jinhe Road. Then you will have a few minutes of walking to reach the Wide and Narrow Alley|
|Line 4||Metro Line 4 helps you to reach the Wide and Narrow Alley Station and walk a few minutes toward the south-west direction|
|Line 2||Metro line 2 helps you to reach the People’s Park station. Then, you should leave from Exit D1 and walk along the Changshun Upper Road|
It should be mentioned that this attraction of Chengdu is just a short walk away from People’s Park, and you have the chance to see both of them on the same day. Do you have any more information to add? Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts. Besides, you can send your questions if you need more information and we will reply as early as possible.