The original Bell Tower was built in 1384 during the Ming Dynasty and was relocated to the present site in 1582. A huge bell in the tower gave an alarm in time of danger and announced the time.
With a brick-and-wood structure, the Bell Tower consists of three parts: the base, body and top, totally 36 meters high. The square base is 8.6 meters high and each side is 35.5 meters long, occupying an area of 1,377.4 square meters. The four arched doorways on the base are connected with each other. Its main body is a wood structure of two stories. Its summit is made of wood covered with gold-plated copper. The size, historical value and artistic value are the highest among buildings of similar architecture in China.
The ancient-style ceremony of “tolling the bell in the morning and beating the drum at dusk” has been held since 1997. The Jinyun Bell originally kept in the Bell Tower is on display in the Xi’an Stele Forest Museum. The one for people to strike is a replica. Ancient pieces of music, such as the music of chime bells of the Qin Dynasty, have been performed regularly since 1995.
In 1997, 320 lamps in four layers were installed around the Bell Tower. After nightfall, the Bell Tower dazzles in the lamp light. As the tower is located in the communication center of Xi’an, it is regarded as a geographical mark in the city.
First constructed in 1380 during the Ming Dynasty, the Drum Tower was renovated in 1699 and 1740 during the Qing Dynasty. In old times, a huge drum was hung in the tower to announce the nightfall everyday. The Bell Tower stands not far to its east.
The base of the Drum Tower was built of black bricks, 52.6 meters wide, 38 meters long from south to north and 33 meters high from the ground to the top. An arched corridor, 6 meters in height and width, passes from north to south through the base of the tower. Its northern exit leads to Beiyuanmen Street and its southern exit leads to Xidajie Street. The corridor is still an important passageway in the downtown area in Xi’an today. The upper structure of the Drum Tower has two stories and three eaves. The roof and the eaves are covered with gray tiles. The ridges of the roof and eaves are simple and plain, without any ornaments, displaying the architecture style popular during the Ming Dynasty.
The Drum Tower in Xi’an is among the best wood-structure buildings from the early Ming Dynasty still in extant in China. The shape and size of the Drum Tower were decided according to the shape and size of the city and the imperial palace. The Drum Tower was an integral part of the city of Xi’an during the Ming Dynasty.
You can go up to the top along the staircases in the east or the west side inside the tower to have a panoramic view of the ancient city.
Both Bell Tower and the Drum Tower are located in the center of Xi’an, the Drum Tower is about 200 meters to the west of the Bell Tower. Both can be reached by public bus No. 239, 603, 610 or 611 from the railway station.