I was debating whether or not to write a post on this, but figured even if it turned out to be a complete non-sight it was worth sharing my views.
Many historical cities in China have these "cultural streets", often with a traditional architectural style (but in reality modern buildings), selling snacks and tourist tat. While they can make a nice street to walk along and buy some souvenirs, I personally have never found them to feel very authentic and they are often overcrowded or expensive.
This cultural street in Zhengding however was very unusual in that it was literally just a normal, grubby street with a couple of restaurants off it and the odd small corner shop. Most of the shops were closed and there was literally no one else there. This may reflect that much of Zhengding was undergoing restoration/ construction when we were there, so perhaps local tourists weren't visiting until it was all done up. Even so, it seemed odd that they'd go to all the effort of building an entrance archway and putting up all the signs if there wasn't anything yet to see…
At the far end of the street we came across another unexpected sight – complete reconstruction going on of the "ancient" city wall. They were literally building it from scratch, with modern materials as far as we could tell. This sadly does make we wonder about the authenticity of everything I see in China – what is genuinely old but restored, and what has been rebuilt to look original?
I'm always left feeling very disappointed when seeing things like this (interestingly, I've previously observed similar occurrences in Datong and Xi'an) which does put a bit of a damper on my day 😦