Bell Tower

Bell Tower, Xian
The Xian Bell Tower is situated in the very heart of the city and at the junction of the four main streets, namely, the North Street, the South Street, the East Street and the West Street. There is a huge bell hanging on the roof of the tower which was traditionally used to strike time every morning. This is how the tower gained its name. Ever since its establishment, the tower has become the symbol of Xian. Now it is a historical monument in Shaanxi Province. The original city Bell Tower was situated to the west of this site and the present construction was built in 1582 as a result of the city's expansion program.

The Bell Tower was first built in the Yingxiang Temple in 1384, which used to mark the centre of the city. There have been various legendary tales about the Bell Tower. In the Ming Dynasty, tens of thousands of people were killed in several earthquakes on the Central Shaanxi Plain. So there was story that the quakes were caused by a huge dragon in the undercurrent that flowed beneath the city. Interestingly, the local governor heard the story and accepted it as true. Then he ordered all the smiths in the city to make a 300-metre chain to keep the dragon under control. He also ordered 5,000 craftsmen to build the tower at the site under which the dragon was chained. As a result, the dragon was weighed down to the bottom of the undercurrent, and stopped its evil spells.

The first emperor of the Ming Dynasty – Zhu yuanzhang was born into a poor family. His parents died when he was young. He had to work for rich landowners as a shepherd. Later, he went to a temple and became a monk. When he ascended the throne, he was afraid of being replaced by someone as a "real dragon". In ancient China, the emperor was often referred to as a "dragon emperor"; therefore bell towers were often constructed all over the country to repress the "spirit of dragons". Xian was established as the site of imperial capital ever since ancient times. Naturally the so-called "spirit of dragons" was indomitable. No wonder Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang was in panic. The Bell tower in Xi'an was not only built earlier, but also taller than nay other in the country.

The base of the tower is 1,337.4 square meters in size, 8.6 meters high and 35.5 meters wide. It was laid with blue bricks all over. The whole building, 36 meters above ground, is a brick-and-wood structure. Three storeys of eaves can be seen from the exterior of the building, but there are only two storeys inside. The eaves are supported by colored Dou Gong, a traditional structural system in which brackets are joined with columns and crossbeams. The use of Dou Gong, made the whole building firm and beautiful. In fact, the Dou Gong, structure has its origin in the Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 BC). The design of Gou Gong appears on bronze wares dating back to the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

Since 1949, Xi’an Municipal Government has launched three repair programs on the tower. As a result, the tower now looks as great and magnificent as it was hundreds of years ago. Today, if you climb the tower by way of its wooden stairs, you will have an extensive view of the city. If you are lucky to get on it on a fine day, you might see as far as Zhongnan Mountain on the southern outskirts of the Xian city.

Open Hour: April 1-October 31: 8:00-22:00
           November 1-March 31: 8:00-17:30
Ticket Price: CNY 27

Xian Tours