The architecture of the late Qing dynasty has gone through hundreds of years but is little known.
Mafangmen Alley is located in the east of the South Yard Gate. In ancient times, it was a place for officials and troops to keep horses (Ma means horses in Chinese). Walk along the tranquil old lane, one will meet the green trees on both sides of the road. The sun is shining through the branches, casting scattered light on the ground.
Walking south from the entrance of Mafang Alley, you can see a gray antique brick wall, which shows the bygone luxury inside the brick wall. There is no door-head or plaque on the closed door, which adds to a sense of mystery of the building and makes people curious about things inside the brick wall.
Keep walking less than one hundred meters, you will encounter an antique architectural gate. The vertical plaque reads “Zhongshan Library”. This very grand building was called “Bright Treasure House(Liangbao lou in Chinese) ” by the old Xian people.
This is a late Qing dynasty building. Although it is located in the old streets and lanes, it has witnessed a very important period in modern China. The building verifies a saying of “dense historical sites in Xian, historic buildings in unremarkable yards”. Now let’s get to know the past and present of Bright Treasure House.
In 1900, Beijing was encroached by Eight-Nation Alliance, The empress dowager Cixi fled together with Emperor Guangxu and some senior officials in Qing government, they landed in Xian in late October. On Nov 29th, it was the 65th birthday of empress dowager Cixi, officials from all over the country serve tribute to Cixi with treasures and antiques.
In October 1901, The Qing government ceded land and made reparations, Eight-Nation Alliance withdrew from Beijing, and the empress dowager Cixi drove back to her Beijing palace, left those tribute treasures that she can not bring back to Beijing.