Ancient Culture Street

Admission:

Free

Hours:

24 hours daily

How to get there:

Located in the northeast of Tianjin's Nankai District (Nánkāi Qū, 南开区), east of Dongma Lu (Dōngmǎ Lù, 东马路).

A large and colorful archway greets you at the entrance of Tianjin's Ancient Culture Street (Gǔwénhuà Jiē, 古文化街). Like its counterpart in Beijing, the famous Liulichang (Liúlíchǎng,琉璃厂), the street is an attempt to recreate a traditional Chinese neighborhood in the middle of a modern urban landscape.

Though almost everything a fabrication of "old China," it's not hard to appreciate the careful inclusion of authentic-enough details, including carved and brightly colored columns, curved balconies and stylized tile roofs. "Antiques" here are generally expensive, but if you have a knack for bargaining you stand a decent chance of scoring some prime souvenirs—calligraphy, posters, tea sets, paper cutout art and the like—at reasonable prices. Shops worth checking out include the Nirenzhang Clay Figurine Shop, Yangliuqing New Year Poster Shop and Tianyige Four Chinese Writing Tools Shop.

The street is also home to Tianhou Temple (Tiānhòu Gōng, 天后宮), dedicated to Tianhou, the Goddess of the Sea. The goddess has long been a protector of Tianjin's ocean-faring citizens, and today's temple is a mix of original and reconstructed elements. In 1984, the temple was converted to a museum dedicated to local folk customs, and includes fine examples of Tianjin clay works and woodblocks from the nearby village of Yangliuqing (Yángliǔqīng, 杨柳青).

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