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Just a stone’s throw away from the Forbidden City is The Courtyard Institute, an alternative educational institution with a vision to promote and preserve traditional Beijing culture. If you’re interested in getting to know this every changing city, take one of the many handicraft-making classes offered by the courtyard to get a glimpse of Beijing’s cultural roots. You can choose from morning and afternoon sessions on how to create hairy monkeys, a folk toy unique to old Beijing, and you can also sign up for fan painting and lantern making sessions. After class, you can head over to nearby National Gallery of Fine Arts and the Beijing People’s Art Theater to experience more of the city’s art scene.