Valuable historical monuments attract tourists from all over the world to Xian. Among them is the Shu Yuan Men Street, which was once the location of the famous Guanzhong Shuyuan Academy, an institute of classical learning and one the most important schools in Shaanxi Province. Today, the road remains dedicated to different types of study and everything revolves around art and culture. On both sides of the black stone road, two-story stores mimic the antique style of the Ming and Qing Dynasties - an attempt by the city planners to restore the ancient road to its former glory. Traditional Chinese brushes, ink, paper and ink stones as well as silk, jade and porcelain can be found here. Among the racks of calligraphy brushes, ranging from delicate drawing utensils to brushes almost as big as feather dusters, works by famous artist, such as Liu Wenxi, who drew the images found on the 100 Yuan note, can be purchased.
Despite the fairly recently constructed and renovated houses, stepping into Shu Yuan Men Street is like stepping into another time. After watching the calligraphists creating their pieces of art without spilling a drop of ink and hearing the sounds of bamboo flutes, melodies created by shopkeepers to attract more customers, sometimes, visitors can even try to dip their own brushes into an inkpot and attempt to paint the complicated Chinese characters. Delicate, hand-cut and painted shadow play figures made of leather once were a popular form of entertainment and told the folk-tales and legends of ancient China. The technique required for creating this popular handicraft is extremely challenging, but you can still find the intricately crafted figures sold in this street.
You can find Shu Yuan Men Street behind the traditional red and gold archway on South Avenue. To get there, take one of the many busses to the Nanmen South Gate stop and walk east. Shops are usually open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but of course, the street can be visited at any time of day.