Bell and Drum Towers
Bell and Drum Towers
Lying on the north-south axis line of Beijing City, Bell and Drum Towers are visibly prominent constructions and represent the symbol of this old city. The bell and the drum were originally used as musical instruments in China. Afterward, however, they were used for telling time.
Bell and Drum Towers
The bell and drum were originally used as musical instruments in China. Afterward, however, they were used for telling time. As early as in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220), there was 'a morning bell and a dusk drum'. Telling the time by bell and drum played an important role in helping people live and work regularly when there was no other means to keep track of the time. As a result, bell and drum towers became public architectures, and were widely constructed in almost every city throughout the country since the Han Dynasty. In the history of their construction, the bell and drum towers of Beijing are the largest and highest. Their layout is unique, in that they were placed fore-and-aft, not as the traditional sense of standing right-and-left horizontally.
Lying to the north of Beijing-south axis line in Dongcheng District, the bell and drum towers are visibly prominent constructions and represent the symbol of this old city. They were built in 1272, and rebuilt twice after two fires. At one period in history they were the time-telling center of the capital city during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties (1271-1911).
This brick and stone towers have two floors: there is an arched door on all four sides of the tower on the first floor, and you can go up to the second floor through stone stairs. The same exists on the first floor. An arched door was also built on the four sides of the second floor. Additionally, there is a stone window on each side of the four doors. Hanging on an eight-square wooden frame of the second floor, the bell in this tower is the largest and heaviest in China. It is 7.02 meters high including the pendants, with a weight of 63 tons. The bell was made of copper, and you can hear its round and clear sound from far away. The two 2-meter-long wooden logs hanging sideward are used to ring the bell.
Located 100 meters south to the bell tower, the drum tower was placed on a 4-meter-high stone and brick base. It is 46.7 meters high, a little bit lower than the bell tower that is 47.9 meters high. This tower is also a two-storey building; the first floor contains the China Committee for the Promotion of the Minority Art. The second floor contains the exhibition area. Originally, there was one big drum and 24 smaller drums, but only the big drum remains. The method of beating the drum is to beat it quickly for 18 times and then slowly for 18 times. Altogether there are three rounds and 108 tollings. People knock the bell and the drum 108 times, because 108 times represent one year in ancient times.
Telling time by ringing the bell and beating the drum was abolished after Pu Yi, the last emperor of China, left the Forbidden City. Since the New Year's Eve of 1990, the sweet sound of the bell that had disappeared for a long time began to ring out in Beijing. Being drowsy for nearly a century, the drum was also beaten again on the New Year's Eve of 2001. It has been beaten four times a day, for 15 minutes at a time since January 1st in 2002. From then on, every New Year Eve, the drum is beaten with the bell 108 times to send a blessing to the people.
The area of the bell and drum towers has been flourishing since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), when they were just standing behind the imperial palace. It was the busy downtown district there then, full of storefronts and businesses. Thanks to the further developing of the businesses, the street in front of the drum tower became the busiest shopping street in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. During the Republican Period of China (1911-1949), many have-nots (impoverished people),along with merchants selling handcrafted items (handicraftsmen) and vendors selling snacks and local food items (snack stands) swarmed the place between the bell and drum towers, which attracted people from all walks of life at that time.Today, when visiting, you can climb onto the bell tower and drum towers to have a birds-eye view to admire the entire city, and even take part in the activity of knocking the bell and drum, appreciating all kinds of folk-customs, such as the dragon and lion dance, and other folk-custom exhibitions.
Half Day Beijing Walking Tour: Hutong & Mansion of Prince Gong & Houhai Lake
Discover the charms of Beijing's old hutong streets. You take a traditional mode of transport pedicab to discover a traditional side of Beijing then marvel at spectacular sights like Prince Gong’s Mansion and its verdant surrounding gardens, the Bell and Drum Towers and Shichahai.
8 Days China Tour of Beijing & Yangtze Cruise
In the tour, you'll appreciate UNESCO world heritage and highlight attractions in Beijing, experience old Beijingers' lifestyle in hutong and courtyard, at the same time, you'll taste the famous Peking Roast Duck. Then cruise on this Yangtze River from Chongqing to Yichang. Soak up the scenery as you glide downstream and hear the anecdote from ancient architectures. This luxury tour includes comfortable accommodation, delicious meals and entertainment onboard, it'll meet your needs.
Beijing private day tour for discovering the past vs the present
Clamber into the traditional mode of transport and discover an alternative side of Beijing; see locals going about their daily life; visit a local home to gain insight into ancient Chinese customs and culture; land on the top of Jingshan Park for a bird's-eye view of the whole of the Forbidden City, experience the center of traditional Beijing from outside the Bell and Drum Tower; keep an everlasting memory by taking snapshots of Olympic Center and enjoy convenient round-trip transportation from your hotel on this enriching tour.
2 Days Renowned Attractions and Panda Zoo Tour in Beijing
It’s a great chance to know more about imperial tombs and intoxicating gardens, to climb the wild Great Wall and browse hutongs on a rickshaw. In addition, playing with national treasure—pandas, you must be delighted to see them. Follow our tour guide to have a look.
Answers to questions
Bell and Drum Towers Photos