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Beijing Bell Tower and Drum Tower

Beijing Bell Tower and Drum Tower in Winter, from Houhai


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Martin ncpa

The first Drum Tower on the site of today’s Drum Tower was build in the year 1272 AD when China was part of the Mongolian Empire. Beijing was then named Dadu and was the capital of that vast empire. That City was described by Marco Polo under the name Khanbaliq. The Drum Tower was the center of that city, located at the intersection of the city’s north-south and east-west axes. This first drum tower was destroyed by fire and rebuild in 1297.

The Drum tower

An old Picutre of the Drum Tower, probably early in the 20th century.

At the end of the 14th century the Mongolians in China were defeated by a rebellion, which founded a new Chinese Dynasty, the Ming, with the capital at the site of today’s Nanjing
In 1402, Prince Zhu Di usurped the throne from his brother, becoming the third Ming Emperor known as Yongle. Un- der his reign China rose to great power. Yongle moved the capital back to Khan- baliq, which had been known as Beiping (Northern Peace) and renamed the City Beijing (Northern Capital).
Yongle built his new palace, the Forbidden City on the extension of the north-south axis in the south and rebuilt the Drum Tower in 1420. Together with the Bell Tower to the north, the temples on Jingshan hill, the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen and the Front Gate to the south a new north-south axis was formed. The east-west axis was moved south to pass Tian’anmen, forming Tian’anmen Square.

Bejing Drum Tower from the east
The Drum Tower
from the east
A typical drum as used in the Drum Tower
Drum of Beijing Drum Tower

That drum tower was destroyed by lightning and rebuild again in 1539. The Drum Tower that can be seen today was build in 1800. Since then it was restorated several times. The upper floor contains the drums that were used for announcing the time in Old Beijing, with the standard drum having a length of 2.22m and a dia- meter of 1.71m. A number of timekeeping devices were also operated in the Drum Hall to keep track of time, over which the Emperor had the power.
The Drum Tower (chn. 鼓楼 gulou) is today the center of a striving shopping and bar district known as Houhai.
Beijing Drum Tower from the south

The Drum Tower from the south

width: 56 m
height: 46.7m
Constructed: 1420/1800
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