For hundreds of years, Hainan’s ancient streets have recorded the island’s history and culture against a backdrop of change and development. The streets have retained the layout, architecture, and even the lifestyles of ancient times.
The following are the four historical streets in Hainan that contain the most vivid and richest histories:
1. Haikou Qilou Old Street, Haikou 海口骑楼老街
Located in Haikou, Qilou Old Street features a stylish fusion of European and Asian architecture, as well as Indian and Arabic influences. Qilou, meaning Chinese arcade houses, form the city’s most exotic landscapes.
With origins dating back around 2,000 years to ancient Greece, arcade architecture was introduced to Haikou by overseas Chinese merchants from 1820 to 1840.
In total, there are more than 200 Qilou buildings on the street, including 39 on Zhongshan Street. The oldest one,the Sipai Building, dates back some 600 years to the Southern Song Dynasty.
Historically, the street has housed consulates, churches, post offices, banks, and chambers of commerce belonging to 13 different countries. Today, the street remains Haikou’s business center while also giving visitors a taste of traditional Haikou life.
2. Wennan Old Street, Wenchang 文昌文南老街
The Wennan Old Street is located in the center of Wenchang old town. The street’s origins can be traced back to the Qing Dynasty. The street used to be one of the prosperous commercial streets in Wenchang.
In 2012, the street was given a new face lift so that it resembles the kind of commercial scenes commonly found in Nanyang (Southeast Asia).
When strolling on the street on a leisure afternoon, you can get an idea of Wenchang’s rich and dignified past.
3. Yacheng Old Street, Sanya 三亚崖城老街
Located in front of the gate of the Confucius Temple of Yacheng Town, the Yacheng Old Street has a 300 year history. This is the town’s old commercial street. It is lined on both sides with old Cantonese-style shops, similar to those found in places in Southeast Asia such as Singapore.
In ancient times, Yacheng was a prosperous site for business and a center of culture and politics, and business in southern Hainan. It also had military importance. It became a county during the period of the Southern and Northern Dynasties. It was the seat of the regional government for a time after the Song Dynasty.
Many of these buildings are now run down and in disrepair, however the street retains a lot of charm. Although the area is perhaps sleepier than it used to be, there is still plenty going on with many small businesses operating from the street-level shops.
4. Wancheng Old Street, Wanning 万宁万城老街
Located at the Wancheng Township of Wanning City, Wancheng Old Street has a 1,300-year history. It shares the honor of being one of the old streets in Hainan. There are four gates on each side.
The old shops, with their black tiles, antiquated window frames, old-style wooden doors, pillars and beams are a graphic illustration of the street’s long and rich history.
SOURCE: WOS Team