As the landmark of Xi'an, the Bell Tower is located in the very center of Xi'an's Inner City and serves as the intersection of East, West, South, and North Streets. The Bell Tower was first built in 1384AD. The original site was in the Guang Ji Street and the tower was renovated and removed to today's site in 1582AD, and ever since then, it became the landmark of Xi'an.
There is a huge bronze bell hung in the tower and once used for reporting time every morning at 6:00 AM, Hence the name Bell Tower. The iron bell, weighing more than 2.5 tons,was cast in the 15th century now rests in the northwest corner of the base.
The foundation of the Bell Tower was built of bricks and is 35.5 meters long on each side and 8 meters high. Above the brick foundation is the tower itself of three layers with graceful upturned eaves. People are always amazed by knowing that not even a single nail was used in this Ming Dynasty style wooden architecture, for the columns and crossbeams are connected by mortise and tenon joints, This is called Dou Gong in classical Chinese architecture, more simply it is a system of supporting brackets inserted between the top of a column and a crossbeam.
The entire building is 36 meter high, In the base of the tower are four arched doorways. The Ming and Qing Dynasty style designs are found on the ceiling and roof inside the tower. Two grand flights of wood stairs lead to the top of the tower. Climbing to the balcony on the tower is rewarded a magnificent view over the whole inner city of Xi'an.
The Bell Tower is just easy to access to some of the historical sites in the town, such as the Muslim Street, Great Mosque to the west of it (only 5 minutes walking distance). Or to the south gate of Xi'an city wall which is also about ten minutes on foot.
The Melody hotel close by the bell Tower is the airport shuttle bus station that taking passengers to the airport.
Besides, there are plenty of famous Chinese restaurants located around the Bell Tower, such as De Fa Chang dumplings restaurant, Qin Tang Yi Hao Si Chuan flavor Chinese restaurant.
It is located next to the original place of the Bell Tower, the intersection of the east, and west, south and north roads, on the northwest of the Bell Tower. In ancient times, both of them were entitle as "sister buildings". But it is really a much smaller building along the lively street that filled with street traders and hawkers.
There is another feature due to its location, the Tower marks the entrance to the city's Muslim Quarter where is a somewhat enjoyable place to wander and observe. Once you go in, you will fill with such feelings that here is almost a "city within a city" and the roads surrounded through which you can reach the Mosque are like a small village crammed with people
Quite similar to the nearby Bell Tower, the Drum Tower also has a triple-eaved, two-story wooden structure high off its rectangular brick platform, which is 52.6 meters (172feet) long, 38 meters (125 feet) wide and 7.7 meters (25 feet) high. Parapets on each tier surround the center and the elegance and grandeur outer eaves decorated with wooden arches reveals much of the superb architectural artifice. The second story is now used as an antique shop, for which it provides a very original setting. A road goes straight through it extending to the Muslim quarter.
The Drum Tower was built in 1380AD with a huge drum inside, it was used to report time at every dusk. The base of Drum Tower is 1,924square meters in size, and 34meters high. In ancient China, especially from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the drums were used to signal the running of time and occasionally were used as an alarm in emergency situations. As time went by, it gradually lost its function as a time measurement.
In modern times, though the Drum Tower is not used as a timer any more, there are some new attractions for visitors to enjoy. In the year 1996, a new drum that covered by a whole piece of cowhide was set here, which is the biggest drum in China currently.
We visit Bell Tower and Drum Tower on our City Sightseeing of Xian Tours.