The Bell Tower of Xi’an is one of the city symbols and one of the most famous bell towers in China. It was built during the early reign of the Ming Dynasty in 1384 and contains multiple large bronze-cast bells, mostly left from the Tang Dynasty era. Bell Tower of Xi’an features a timber and brick structure and it is located in the center of Xi’an.
The Bell Tower of Xi’an History
Bell Tower of Xi’an was constructed in 1384, during Emperor Hongwu’s 17th year of reign. Initially, It was situated in the north of West Street, at the Yingxiang Temple of Guangji Street, facing the Drum Tower of Xi’an. That was around 1,000 meters (1,082 yards) further from its current location. At that time, here was directly opposite the south and north city gates in the center of the city. The Chang’an City expanded during the early Ming Dynasty era and because of that, the city center slowly moved toward the east.
This expansion of the city changed the city center which led to the relocation of the Bell Tower of Xi’an in 1582. Then, the government moved the tower around 1,000 meters (1,082 yards) toward the east of its original site. The relocation included all parts of the tower except for its base. According to history, the relocation was done inexpensively and quickly, which makes it a remarkable achievement in China’s architectural history.
Bell Tower of Xi’an was largely repaired in 1699, 1740, and 1840. Japanese bombed Xi’an in 1939, and the Bell Tower got severely damaged; however, it was restored later. Bell Tower of Xi’an has been overhauled five times after the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. In 1984, the tower officially opened to the public and in 1996, it became the national key cultural relics protection unit.
Bell Tower Function
Today the Bell Tower is a beautiful place for sightseeing and it’s used as a cultural relic for tourists. In the olden times, it had a function like other Chinese clock towers. It was primarily used for reporting the time and publishing news. However, during the time, its functions gradually changed and today it is a lovely attraction in the city.
There have been other purposes for the bell tower during history. In the Revolution of 1911, the Rebels who were fighting with the Qing army were deployed here. In this tower, the first cinema in Xi’an was built in 1927 by Shilin, who had returned from the United States after studying.
The Bell Tower of Xi’an functioned as an alarm station to warn the Japanese air raids, during the Anti-Japanese War. It also has been a prison for criminals by the command of the Kuomintang. After the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, the bell tower became the stage of the parade on Labor Day and National Day.
The Bell Tower Architecture
The lower structural section of the Bell Tower of Xi’an has a square-shaped pedestal alongside a masonry structure. The base has a two-story wooden structure, and the surface is built of blue bricks. The building features a height of about 36 meters (118 feet), which 8.6 meters (28 feet) of it is the base. The whole construction area is around 1,377 square meters (14,821 square feet) while each side of it is approximately 35.5 meters (38.8 yards) long.
The general architecture of the Bell Tower is related to the Ming Dynasty style. The top section is called the Golden Top because of the gold-platinum used in the inner heart of the wood. Dark green glazed tiles cover the roof while gold paintings decorate the inside. The window and door carvings of the Bell Tower are both exquisite and sophisticated. They show the decorative arts of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
You can see some holes In the middle of the pedestal which intersects each other with a cross of around 6 meters (19.5 feet). These were the passages that pedestrians and vehicles passed through in the past, but today they are no longer used. Today, there is only a pedestrian passage underground.
The Giant Bell
The Jing Yun Bell was the original clock of Bell Tower that was used during the Tang Dynasty in the year of Jing Yun. Initially, it was used in Jing long Temple located in Chang’an City, which is the current West Street in Xi’an today. During the early Ming Dynasty, It was moved to the Bell Tower.
In 1953, Jing Yun bell was moved to Xi’an Beilin Museum and today it is on display in Dongting. Because of its crucial role in the integrity of the Bell Tower, a replica was built and installed in the tower resembling the original one. It is located on the base of the tower, on its northwest corner.
The bell has a height of 2.45 meters (8 feet) and weighs 6.5 tons (2,204 pounds). Also, it has an outer diameter of 1.65 meters (5.4 feet). Besides, the bell features a majestic and bright sound.
How to Get to the Bell Tower of Xi’an? Ticket?
Get on Metro Line 2 and leave at Bell Tower Station.
Get on Bus No. 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 26, 29, 32, 35, 36, 37, 43, 45, 46, 118, 201, 203, 205, 206, 208, 214, 215, 218, 221, 222, 229, 235, 251, 252, 300, 302, 502, 600, 603, 604, 606, 608, 609, 610, 611, 612, 706, K600, K605, K618, K630, Tourist Bus Lines 7, or 8 and leave at Bell Tower Stop.
To visit the Bell Tower of Xi’an, you will need to pay a ticket fee of 30 Yuan. The same price applies to the nearby Drum Tower, but if you plan to visit both, you can buy the 50 Yuan discounted ticket.
Children under the height of 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) do not need a ticket.
The visit could take up to one hour.
The Bell Tower of Xi’an is open to visitors between 08:30-21:00 from March 26th to October 25th and the latest time you can buy a ticket is at 20:30.
From October 26th to March 25th, the tower is open to visitors between 08:30-18:00 while the latest time to buy a ticket is at 17:30.
Did you know that the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower in Xi’an are called the Sister Buildings because of their similarities?
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