Bell Tower

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Chinese name:
钟楼 (Zhong Lou)
Location: downtown Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province.
Entrance fee: 35 Yuan (extra 10 Yuan is required for hitting the bell for three times).
Opening time: 08:00-22:00 (April-October), 08:00-17:30 (November-March).
Show time of Bianzhong (编钟) and Guzheng (): 09:00, 10:30, 11:30, 14:30, 16:00, 17:00 (Bianzhong: classical Chinese musical serial bell; Guzheng: classical Chinese 21-or 25-stringed plucked instrument).

Brief Introduction to Xi'an Bell Tower

Built in 1384 (Ming Dynasty), the Bell Tower was originally built on the site now known as Guangji Intersection, the center of Chang'an City (known as Xi'an City today). After two century of the founding of Ming, the city of Chang'an was expanded eastwards, which made the Bell Tower further and further from the city center. To keep it the center as it was, an unbelievable remove of the Bell Tower was carried out in 1582 under the charge of Gong Exian, the grand coordinator of Shaanxi Province. According to the tablet inscription on the western wall of the second storey of the tower, the building was moved some 1000 meters eastwards in whole except the base. Now the Bell Tower stands at a distance of about 200 meters from the Drum Tower.

For hundreds of years the bell hanging on the Bell Tower functioned as an appliance for time service and alarm and is the biggest and best-reserved bell in China today.

Structure of Bell Tower

The whole Bell Tower is made up of the base and the tower itself.

The base is built by black bricks, 35.5 meters in side and 8.6 meters in height, with all-sided guardrail above and a 6-meter-high cross tunnel below. It locates at the junction of East Street, South Street, West Street and North Street of Xi'an, which are the key streets of the city. With the developing of urban construction, the tunnel could not adapt to the need of the busy traffic any more and was blocked instead of a circuit around the Bell Tower.

The main body of the Bell Tower is three-storeyed with a pyramidal roof and represents a typical architectural style of Ming Dynasty; the three green glazed-tiled eaves are pinned with copper and every layer of the roof has four protruding angles respectively. The first and the middle layers of the tower are designed to be supported by several red pillars and decorated with traditional Chinese red lanterns.

- The Bell

The first bell placed on the Bell Tower was a big one named Jingyun Bell made in Tang Dynasty (608-907). It is said that the Jingyun Bell did not make any toll any longer after the Bell Tower was moved to the current site, hence it was replaced by a smaller one and is stored in the Museum of Forest of Steles of Xi'an now. The smaller bell hung there after the move of the Bell Tower in Ming Dynasty was made between 1465 and 1487, 5 tons, carved with the pattern of Ba Gua (八卦, eight diagrams used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts). Since January 30 of 1997, an imitated "Jingyun Bell" made by Xi'an Bureau of Cultural Relics was hung northwest of the Bell Tower and opened to tourists. The bell approximates the original, 2.45 meters high, 6.5 tons.

- Stone Steles

There are in total three steles on the west wall of the first floor of the Bell Tower, one written in 1953 by the Xi'an Municipal Government, one by Zhang Keishu (grand coordinator of Shaanxi) in 1739 (Qing Dynasty), and one by Gong Maoxian (supervisor of Shaanxi) after the move of the Bell Tower in 1582.

- Legend

A folk legend goes that frequent earthquakes occurred in the central Shaanxi plain after Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of Ming Dynasty, ascended the throng. It was believed that there was a dragon turning over and over in the river under the city and that was the reason why the earthquakes happened. The emperor felt very anxious about it and tried everything to repress the dragon. The Taoist priests suggested to build a bell tower at the center of the city and to place a bell there, as the toll from a bell is considered to be "the voice of heaven and earth", which could threaten the evil. Therefore, the emperor ordered to build a biggest bell tower in the country and moved the "Jingyun Bell" to scare the dragon.

How to get there: take buses 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, 216, 218, 221, 222, 229, 235, 236, 239, 251, 300, 302, 502, 600, 603, 604, 608, 609, 611, 610, 612, K605, K600, K606, K630, K618,  or tourist bus No.7, tourist bus No.8, and get off at the stop of "Zhong Lou" (钟楼, Bell Tower).