Also known as the ‘Hakka Huts,’ these round houses are one of Fujian’s most interesting attractions.
They are located in southeastern Fujian Province, in the mountainous, scenic region.
Built between the 12th and 20th centuries, these large, round, earthen buildings were used as storage areas, storehouses, and living quarters.
Now, visitors from China and all over the world come to the region to see these unique structures.
They are truly ‘out-of-this-world,’ and many are open to visitors to be explored.
Plus, the region is absolutely stunning, and holds a unique culture much different than the rest of China.
If you are ready to visit one of the country’s off-the-beaten-track attractions, here’s what you need to know.
Facts About The Fujian Tulou
-The Chinese name translates to ‘ Fujian earthen buildings.’
-The walls of the houses are between three and five stories.
-They can house up to 800 people.
-Each structure is like a fortified city inside.
-The outside of the houses are build with a mixture of wood, bamboo, stone, and branches.
-The walls are about six feet thick.
-The buildings are wind and earthquake-proof.
-They are cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
-A Tulou typically has large wooden doors which function as the main entrance and exit.
-The upper portion of the Tulou has holes so that gunmen can protect from intruders from inside.
-There are a total of 46 Fujian Tulous that are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
-The largest round tulou is the Shunyu lou which has a diameter of 74.1 and a 15-meter high outer wall.
-Cuilin lou is the smallest with a diameter of 14 meters.
-The oldest is the Qiyun lou and was built in 1371.
-Tulous are unique in that they offer completely equal housing for residents. There is no hierarchy here.
Fujian Tulou History
It was during the wartime period of Yongjia that the Hakka people fled their home in the central plains.
This occurred between 304 and 312 A.D. After traveling from place to place, the Hakka people decided to seek shelter in the mountainous region of southwestern Fujian.
Between the rugged mountains and long rivers, they felt safe from invaders and war.
They started to build wooden shelters and huts with thatched roofs for protection. Embarking on more peaceful lives with abundant resources, the people here began to flourish.
As the population grew, housing became more of a problem for the Hakka people. The group wanted to provide shelter for everyone, but they also wanted to build a community that would inspire.
The Hakka people began to construct the tulou. It isn’t clear where this building style first came from, but over the years, they perfected it.
Many members of the group continued to be nomadic. As they moved from place to place, they built tulou for protection. This is why these buildings can be found in different regions along the Fujian coast.
The rammed-earth technique used for building the structures is difficult to pin down by date.
However, it’s believed that the technique was developed during the Shang Dynasty from 1766-1122 B.C.
Having their building technique perfected, and honing skills in the plastic arts, the Hakka community gained great wealth.
They thrived, and continue to do so today, especially with the growing interest from tourists.
Culture Of The Fujian Tulou
Their culture is steeped in a will to survive and community. Now, visitors can come explore the tulou and see how this group of people live.
If you’re visiting the Hakka huts, make sure to visit:
-Zhengcheng lou: This structure is located in Hongkeng Village. It was built in 1912 and is on the World UNESCO Heritage list. The tulou has 184 rooms and an outer wall that is four stories high. The building is considered unique because it has Greek-style columns and a wrought iron railing.
-Jiqinglou: It is the oldest tulou and the largest in the Chuxi tulou group. This building was constructed in 1419 during the Ming dynasty. It’s outer ring alone has 72 staircases.
-Chengqi lou: It’s nicknamed, ‘the king of the tulou,’ and can be found in Yongding county. It can be found on the World UNESCO Heritage list and was built back in 1709. The outer ring is 62.6 meters in diameter, it has 288 rooms, and is four stories tall. Visitors love to tour this one because the ground floor showcases communal living spaces like kitchens, grain storage, a library, bedrooms, and living rooms.
-Yuchang lou: This is a five storey tulou that can be found in Nanjing county. It was build during the Yuan Dynasty in 1308. It is considered one of the tallest and oldest tulou in the country. The levels of this building zigzag around, giving it a distinct look compared to the others in the area. Inside, there are 25 kitchens, private water wells, and 270 rooms in total.
-Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster: This cluster is made up of five tulous and a square Buyunlou in the center. Each building has different dimensions and all are worth a look. If you can climb the nearby mountains, the view of this cluster makes a fantastic photo.
Tips For Visiting The Fujian Tulou
-Consider hiring a local guide because there is hardly any English spoken in this area.
-Bring clothes and shoes that are good for the outdoors. You’ll be doing a lot of walking and climbing so make sure that your shoes are especially sturdy.
-Be respectful while touring the tulou. There are families who are living and working there every day.
-Be prepared to pay an entrance fee for some of the tulous. It’s not exactly clear which ones you must pay for, but there will usually be someone standing outside the main entrance to collect the money.
-If you’re an adventurous traveler, consider showing up and booking accommodation once you arrive. If you don’t speak Chinese, it can be difficult to make reservations over the phone.
-Consider taking a guided tour of the Hakka Huts as things will go more smoothly.