Situated at the north-eastern suburb of the city centre of China’s Capital, Beijing, not too far from the airport, is an old industrial area that has over the years, been developed into an art district called 789 Art Zone (also known as 798 Art District).
The area, which was formerly home to factories back in the 1950s, has since been fully converted to shops, galleries and cafes – only structures such as chimneys and pipes stand as reminders of this area’s former industrial glory.
The art-inclined traveller would fit right into 798 Art Zone (also known as 798 Art District), which houses many contemporary art galleries, museums and spaces. For the not-so-art-inclined, but fans of communist-inspired works nonetheless, there are shops a plenty selling little knick-knacks like – souvenir shopping anyone?
Long Live Chairman Mao! (毛主席万岁!) – 798 Space gallery
I personally loved the many cafés that were abound in this area. Escape the cold, or the heat, and pop into any cafe, just like I did. The one I went into served a mean cheese fondue, perfect for the blistering late autumn chill of Beijing the time I was there. Yes, Swiss cheese fondue in Beijing – probably not authentic, but yummy all the same.
In true artsy fashion, the roads and pathways are too, haphazard – it is almost impossible to navigate yourself around the area for the roads there have no comprehensible system. With names such as “Ceramics Third Street” that do not even show on any available map, it is simply better to walk, get lost in the process, and enjoy the art installations along the way.
I could swear every other person posed beside these statues
There are, however, some signboards along the way, though I have to admit they’re hardly handy.
Despite it being almost an hour’s drive from the main city centre, 798 Art Zone could possibly be the place I’d hang out at frequently, if only I lived in Beijing. And if I ever do return to Beijing one day, I know where my first stop will be.
798 Art Zone (798艺术区)
Dashanzi Zone, Chaoyang District
Off Jiu Xian Qiao Lu (酒仙桥路)