Shichahai (Chinese: 什刹海; pinyin: Shíchàhǎi) is a historic scenic area consisting of three lakes in the north of central Beijing in China. They are located to the north-west of the Forbidden City and north of the Beihai Lake. Shichahai consists of the following three lakes: Qianhai (前海), Xihai (西海) and Houhai (后海). In imperial times it was called the Riverbank (Chinese: 河沿; pinyin: héyán).
Shichahai consists of 147 hectares and dates back to the Jin Dynasty. From the time of the Yuan Dynasty it was the northernmost part of the Grand Canal linking Hangzhou in the south to Beijing in the North of China. Because of this, the Shichahai area used to be the most important commercial district with all kinds of activities going on. It harbors several temples and mansions.
Sichahai literally means "the lake of ten temples". Around the lake there are ten famous Taoist and Buddhist temples and several formal royal mansions and gardens. The most well known are the Prince Gong Mansion (恭亲王府) and the Prince Chun Mansion (醇亲王府).
Shichahai is a famous scenic spot in Beijing, and it is near the north-gate of the Beihai Park. The borders of the lakes are lined by tall trees. In the summer tourists rent boats to paddle on the lakes. In the winter many people come to ice-skate.
In 1992 the municipal government of Beijing declared the district an "Historical and Cultural Scenic District".
Nearby famous places
- Prince Gong Mansion
- Prince Chun Mansion
- Former Residence of Soong Ching-ling
- Former residence of Chinese writer Guo Moruo
- Typical Chinese hutong streets, with typical siheyuan courtyard houses.
- Drum Tower and Bell Tower
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