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Drum and Bell Towers Square

Bell Tower

Xian's city center was a rather pleasant surprise. Although, in ancient times it was known as Chang'an, the capital of China, that had been more than a thousand years earlier. However, instead of the little provincial town, we found a bustling metropolis with as cosmopolitan flair. The streets and the shopping area around the city center are lively. The Bell Tower is located in the center of Xi’an where the North Street (Bei Dajie), the South Street (Nan Dajie), the East Street (Dong Dajie) and the West Street (Xi Dajie) join. As a pavilion-style structure with three tiers of eaves and four pointed corners, the tower is set on a square brick platform 1,377.64 meters square, with an arched gateway at ground level leading to the East, South, North and West Avenues. Inside, a staircase spirals up. The grey bricks of the square base, the dark green glazed tiles on the eaves, gold-plating on the roof and gilded color painting make the tower a colorful and dramatic masterpiece of Ming-style architecture. From the Bell Tower, the East, South, West, and North streets all connect the Tower to their respective gates of the City Wall of the Ming Dynasty. The Bell Tower is the largest and best preserved of all the bell towers in China, and it ranks first among similar architectures for its unique artistic, architectural and historic value.

Bell Tower

The Bell Tower of Xi'an stands at the centre of the city with four main streets radiating from it in four directions linking the four gates in the city wall. It was built in 1384 and is 36 meters high. Originally a huge bell hanging beneath its roof served to give battle signals for the city's defence system. The tower has a 6-metre high archway on each side and a circular staircase leads to the top story.
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The Bell Tower is located in the center of downtown area where the North Street (Bei Dajie), the South Street (Nan Dajie), the East Street (Dong Dajie) and the West Street (Xi Dajie) join. It was first built in Yingxiang Temple in 1384, to mark the center of the city. As a result of the city's expansion, it was shifted to its present site in 1582. It used to hold a sizable bell to strike time every morning.

The Bell Tower has a classical structure with carved beams and painted rafters. It is 36 meters above ground. The base of the Bell Tower is 1,337.4 square meters in size, 8.6 meters high and 35.5 meters wide. It is a brick-and-wood structure, with its eaves supported by colored dou gong, a traditional structure unique to ancient china. The dou gong structure, which originated in the Shang Dynasty (1600B.C.-1100 B.C), helps to consolidate the whole building and make it look beautiful.

The tower was built in 1384 by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang as a way to dominate the surrounding countryside and provide early warning of attack by rival rulers.

The tower has three layers of eaves but only two stories. Inside, a staircase spirals up. The grey bricks of the square base, the dark green glazed tiles on the eaves, gold-plating on the roof and gilded color painting make the tower a colorful and dramatic masterpiece of Ming-style architecture. In addition to enhancing the beauty of the building, the three layers of eaves reduce the impact of rain on the building.

The design and construction of the Bell Tower reflects the superb intelligence of the ancient Chinese people. In addition to enhancing the beauty of the building, the three layers of eaves reduce the impact of rain on the building. Dou gong, a traditional structure unique to ancient china, helps to consolidate the whole building and make it beautiful. The vertical ridge was constructed diagonally and verges towards the roof. This structure sets off the hall’s marvelous golden. ceiling. Gazed tiles are intersected with pan tiles with cooper connectors to fasten the structure and make them an integrated treasure of architectural art.

On the second floor, a plaque set in the west wall records the relocation of the tower in 1582. When it was first built in 1384, it stood near the Drum Tower on the central axis of the city, and continued to mark the center of the city since Tang Dynasty and the following the Five Dynasties and the Song and Yuan Dynasties. As the city grew, however, the geographical center changed. Therefore, in 1582, the Tower was moved 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) east of the original site. Except for the base, all parts are original, and history tells us that the relocation was accomplished quickly and inexpensively, making it a truly notable achievement in the architectural history in China.

Originally, the northwest corner of the tower housed the famous Jingyun Bell from the Tang Dynasty. Legend has it that although nothing had changed in the tower, the Jingyun Bell fell silent during the Ming Dynasty, so the current bell, a much smaller one weighing only 5 tons, was cast. The original Jingyun Bell can now be seen in Forest of Stone Steles Museum.

The engravings on the doors of the Tower reflect the decorative fashion of Ming and Qing Dynasties, recounting popular stories of ancient China.

On each side of the base, there is an arched door 6 meters (19.6feet) high. In the past, vehicles were allowed to pass through the arches and under the tower, but as the city has grown the volume of traffic has become too great, so a bright, spacious pedestrian subway has been constructed under the tower. The entrance to the tower is from this subway.

A fenced-in area around the tower is planted with grass and flowers. In early spring, the tender plum blossoms and bright new grass surrounding the old tower provide a harmonious contrast. Not far from the Tower, modern shopping malls and a brightly decorated square reveal the prosperity of the city. When night falls, lanterns hung from the eaves illuminate the tower, making it even more enchanting.

The Bell Tower definitely deserves a visit on your trip to Xian.

About 500 meters northwest of the Bell Tower stands another magnificent building, the Drum Tower. Built in 1380, it used to house a huge drum to tell the time at dusk. The base of the Drum Tower is 1,924 square meters, and its height is 34 meters.

Both the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower were listed as cultural relics under the municipal-level protection. With the two towers rivaling each other, the ancient city of Xi'an is more beautiful and spectacular than ever before.

Admission Fee:

CNY 35
CNY 56  for Bell Tower and
Bell Tower

Opening Hours: 08:00 to 18:00
Recommended Time for a Visit: One hour

the Tower can only be accessed from the entrance on Bei Dajie where visitors must also buy their tickets.

Drum Tower

The Drum Tower

The Drum Tower is on the northern side of the western street in the city. It was built in 1380 (the 13th year of Ming Hongwu Era), and were rebuilt in 1699 (the 38th year of the Qing Kangxi Era) and in 1740 (the 5th year of the Qing Qianlong Era). It's named as the Drum Tower because of the big drum placed on the tower, which was hit at dusk everyday for giving the correct time.
 

The Drum Tower in Xian was initially built in 1380 during the reign of Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and was renovated twice in 1699 and 1740 in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It is a two-storied post and panel structure, 34 meters (about 112 feet) high and 52.6 meters (about 172 feet) long from east to west as well as 38 meters (about 124 feet) wide from north to south. The architecture style of the Drum Tower is a combination of the styles of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the Qing Dynasty. However, the Drum Tower also has some innovative features. For example, it should be mentioned that there is no iron nail used anywhere in the Drum Tower.

Arriving at the Drum Tower you will see that there is an arched doorway in the centre of the south and north walls, doorway being 6 meters (about 20 feet) in both height and width. The north entrance leads to Beiyuan Men and south to Xi Dajie. Visitors can go upstairs to the second floor, and enjoy the views around the Drum Tower. Meanwhile, you will notice that there are twenty-four drums in the north and south sides of the Drum Tower. These drums stand for the Twenty-four Solar Terms which is a kind of weather calendar created by the Chinese ancients in order to guide the agricultural production.

In modern times, the Drum Tower is not used as a timer any more, but there are some new attractions for visitors to enjoy. In the year of 1996, a new drum, covered by a whole piece of cowhide was given a place on the Drum Tower. It is the biggest drum in China at present. What is more, visitors will enjoy musical performances on the Drum Tower. These performances will enlighten one on the power of ancient Chinese culture.

When you finish visiting the Drum Tower, you may round off your trip, by tasting a number of delicious snacks of Shaanxi in the Moslem Street (Huimin Jie) adjacent to the Drum Tower.

 

Admission Fee: CNY 35
CNY 56  for Bell Tower and Drum Tower
Opening Hours: 08:00 to 18:00
Recommended Time for a Visit: One hour


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