Located in the heart of Xi’an’s historical district, the Bell Tower is one of China’s most magnificent buildings to have survived into the modern day.
The representative of the power and might which were once located in Xi’an, the structure has now become the city’s most popular tourist attraction – apart from, of course, the Terracotta Warriors.
Any visit the Xi’an should include the Bell Tower. It’s not just the tower itself which is interesting though, the surrounding area also has a lot to offer – most of it within walking distance.
Interesting Facts About The Bell Tower In Xi’an
-The Bell Tower in Xi’an is the most complete Ming Dynasty era construction which still stands today. As a symbol of Xi’an’s history, it is often known as the “bright pearl of the ancient city”.
-During the Ming Dynasty, the city of Xi’an was an important military city, which is reflected in buildings such as the Bell Tower which would act as warning signals for the whole city.
-Whilst the Bell Tower may have been a product of the Ming Dynasty, other dynasties have also had their influence on the building. An example of this is the presence of Wing Dynasty era decoration on the structure’s doors, which recount the history of ancient China.
-The structure was moved during the 16th century by over 1000 meters so that it could be located in the ‘new’ city center. This was one of the largest building location projects during that time and was an incredible feat by Xi’an architects.
The History Of The Bell Tower In Xi’an
Built in the 14th century when China was under the rule of the Ming dynasty emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, the Bell Tower is one of China’s most famous and visited attractions.
Lying in the heart of the city of Xi’an, it once served as the center of the city, directly located at the intersection of the north, south, east, and west gates.
It was believed that frequent earthquakes from before the construction of the tower were due to a legendary snake or dragon. The Bell Tower was constructed with the idea that it would force the snake away and protect the city from the earthquakes and damage.
The project was a success and it is believed by many that those earthquakes did stop because of the Bell Tower’s presence.
By the 16th century, Xi’an had undergone many changes and huge amounts of expansion. This is what led to the BellTower being relocated over 1,000 meters to the East.
In a huge project for its time, the lower and upper floors were disassembled and put back together in the new location, only the concrete foundations upon which the Bell Tower were made anew.
Today, the Bell Tower stands at an impressive height of 36 meters and still marks the center of the city. Surrounding it is one of Xi’an’s busiest intersections. Over the years, the structure itself has gone through several refurbishment efforts.
Whilst the structure which stands there today may not be the same as that one which stood hundreds of years ago, it remains faithful to the original and representative of Xi’an incredibly culture and architectural ability.
The Culture Of The Bell Tower In Xi'an
Jingyun Bell: A replica of the original Jingyun Bell. The original was made over 1000 years ago during the time of the Tang dynasty. Today, it sits in the Xi’an Forest of Stone Tablets Museum, where visitors are able to look at a true piece of Chinese history.
However, due to its significance in relation to the Bell Tower in Xi’an, a replica was requisitioned in order to sit in the Bell Tower itself. It is believed that if you are given the chance to ring the bell, you will be extremely lucky.
Inscribed Steles: Located on the first floor of the building, you’ll find three Steles inscribed with the history of the tower.
The Bell Tower Performance: If you would like to visit the Bell Tower’s performance, it takes place 6 times a day and costs 20 CNY per person. You can look around the Bell Tower first and buy tickets in advance. The performance is worth being seen.
Folk Concerts: Throughout the year, Folk Concerts have been known to be organized for the general public and visitors. Whilst the times for these vary, they tend to reside around the time of the national festivals such as Spring Festival. Locals get heavily involved in the festivals and they are big events. The Tang West Market Spring Festival Fair is a good example of a fair in the local area and worth visiting if your trip coincides with it.
The North Gate Night Market: Located near to the Bell Tower, the North Gate Night market is the perfect place to get involved in Xi’an snacks, trinkets, and souvenirs. You can find practically anything you could possibly want here. It’s highly recommended that you sample many of the different streets foods on offer here – especially if you haven’t tried local Xi’an cuisine. It’s some of the best food you’ll find in China, and it’s cheap!
Tips For Visiting The Bell Tower In Xi’an
The best time for visiting the Bell Tower in Xi’an is between April and May. During this time, the temperature is moderate and you are unlikely to be rained on.
The Bell Tower is open between 9 am to 9 pm. Ticket sales are stopped at 8:30 pm.
Be careful of your valuables around the Bell Tower. The area can become very crowded and it’s not rare that pickpockets to take things when you’re not looking. Keep your eyes peeled and your valuables safe.
The nearest and most convenient bus station is Zhonglou, which will take you pretty much straight to both the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower.
Whilst exploring the city, make sure to take a legal taxi which charges you based on a meter. There are lots of fakes and these will charge you a lot more for your services. Always ask the taxi driver to start a meter.