I was shocked when I first saw the following paifang at Xidan. It is both grand and classical.
Paifang, also called pailou, is a traditional Chinese architectural gating style as an arch.
Paifang, also called pailou, is a traditional Chinese architectural gating style as an arch. The word paifang (牌坊) was originally a collective term for the top two levels of administrative divisions and subdivisions of ancient Chinese cities. The largest division within a city in ancient China was a fang (坊), equivalent to the current day precinct. Each fang was enclosed by walls or fences, and the gates of these enclosures were shut and guarded every night. Each fang was further divided into several pai (牌), which is equivalent to the current day (unincorporated) community. Each pai in turn, contained an area including several hutongs (alleyways). This system of urban administrative division and subdivision reached an elaborate level during the Tang Dynasty, and continued in the following dynasties. For example, during the Ming Dynasty, Beijing was divided into a total of 36 fangs. Originally, the word paifang referred to the gate of a fang and the marker for an entrance of a building complex or a town; but by the Song Dynasty, a paifang had evolved into a purely decorative monument.