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Bell and Drum Towers

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  • Bell Tower
    Bell Tower

Located at the northern end of the central axis of the Inner City to the north of Di'anmen Street, the Bell and Drum Towers are a group of ancient buildings that represent the symbol of old Beijing with the prominent structures. Bells and drums originally functioned as the musical instruments in the ancient times, later they became the time-teller and watches for all.

Built in 1272, the Bell and Drum Towers was rebuilt twice after fires. It tolled the hours during the ancient China's Yuan (1271 - 1368), Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) dynasties. In 1420, under the Ming Emperor Yongle, the building was reconstructed to the east of the original site and in 1800 under the Qing Emperor Jiaqing, large-scale renovations were carried out. In the 1980s, after much repair, the Bell and Drum Towers were opened to tourists.

 Drum Tower 
The Drum Tower was built in 1272 during the reign of Kublai Khan, when it stood at the very heart of the Yuan capital Khanbaliq. At that time it was known as the Tower of Orderly Administration (Qizhenglou), which means seven administrations- gold, wood, water, fire, earth, sun and moon. Later it was burnt down by fire. Then it was rebuilt in the first year of the reign of Emperor Cheng Zong of the Yuan Dynasty. In the 18th year of the reign of Emperor Yong Le of the Ming Dynasty it was rebuilt again.

Being 46.7 meters (153 feet) high, the Drum Tower is an arched wooden structure with three layers of upturned eaves, covered with grey tube-shaped tiles and edged with green glazed tiles. In the past there was a Bronze Clepsydra, 24 drums and one main drum on the second floor, but now only the drumhead remains there.

 Bell Tower 
The Bell Tower stands closely behind the drum tower. It was also built in the 9th year of the Zhi Yuan period of the Yuan Dynasty. Later it was burnt down. It was rebuilt in the 10th year of the Qian Long period of the Qing Dynasty (in 1745).

The Bell Tower stands 47.9 meters (157 feet) high and 63 tons in weight, thus is the biggest ancient bell in china. It is an ancient domed, double-eaved tower made of stones and bricks covered with black glazed tiles and edged with green glazed tiles with no beam in the building. It appears a semi-sphere in the center of the roof over the second floor. Under the octagonal bell rack, there hangs a big bell which was inscribed with 'It was built on a lucky day, month and year under the reign of Emperor Yongle'. 

The Bell Tower and Drum Towers provide an overview of central Beijing and before the modern era, they both dominated Beijing's ancient skyline. They were listed among the first batch of cultural relics under municipal protection in 1957 and listed as a cultural relic under state-level protection in 1996.

 Opening Hours: 9:00 - 17:00

 Entrance Fee:   Bell Tower: CNY 15    Drum Tower: CNY 20

A. Bus Routes: Take Bus No. 5, 60, 815, 834, 819, 124, 107 and get off at Drum Tower bus stop.
B. Subway: Take Subway Line 2 (Loop-line),  get off at Drum Tower Street station, get out of the station from Exit B  in the southwest, and walk south.

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