Historically, the Xuanwu District right outside the old imperial city’s “inner city” was home to the lower classes.

Xuanwu is the spiritual centre for the thousands of Muslims living in Beijing, and home to Niujjie Mosque, the largest and oldest mosque in Beijing. Built mainly of timber, this historic mosque mixes Islamic and Chinese design. From the outside the Chinese influence is very obvious, while the inside is mostly decorated in Islamic style.

Xuanwu also has the Fayuan Temple, Beijing’s oldest Buddhist temple. It spreads out over a large compound. Not only is the Fayuan Temple a place of worship, but a training centre for young monks, as well as the location of the China Buddhism Library and Relic Centre.

Those looking for a souvenir can stop by Liulichang, a 750-metre street jam-packed with shops. Scrolls, jade, tea, silk, paper; whatever it is you are looking for, you are bound to find it in this bargain-city stretch.