Bell Tower of Xi'an

Xi'an Bell Tower, Shaanxi
 Bell Tower Pictures

Xi'an Bell Tower Facts

Location: at the city center of Xi’an
Height: 36 meters (118 feet)
First Built in: 1384
Number of Stories: Two

The Bell Tower, is a stately traditional building, that marks the geographical center of the ancient capital. From this important landmark extend East, South, West and North Streets, connecting the tower to the East, South, West and North Gates of the City Wall of the Ming Dynasty.

The wooden tower, which is the largest and best-preserved of its kind in China, is 36 meters (118 feet) high. It stands on a brick base 35.5 meters (116.4 feet) long and 8.6 meters (28.2 feet) high on each side. During the Ming Dynasty, Xi'an was an important military town in Northwest China, a fact that is reflected in the size and historic significance.

The tower was built in 1384 by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang as a way to dominate the surrounding countryside and provide early warning of attack by rival rulers.

It has three layers of eaves but only two stories. Inside, a staircase spirals up. The grey bricks of the square base, the dark green glazed tiles on the eaves, gold-plating on the roof and gilded color painting make the tower a colorful and dramatic masterpiece of Ming-style architecture. In addition to enhancing the beauty of the building, the three layers of eaves reduce the impact of rain on the building.

On the second floor, a plaque set in the west wall records the relocation of the tower in 1582. When it was first built in 1384, it stood near the Drum Tower of Xi'an on the central axis of the city, and continued to mark the center of the city since Tang Dynasty and the following the Five Dynasties and the Song and Yuan Dynasties. As the city grew, however, the geographical center changed. Therefore, in 1582, the tower was moved 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) east of the original site. Except for the base, all parts are original, and history tells us that the relocation was accomplished quickly and inexpensively, making it a truly notable achievement in the architectural history in China.

Originally, the northwest corner of the tower housed the famous Jingyun Bell from the Tang Dynasty. Legend has it that although nothing had happened here, the Jingyun Bell fell silent during the Ming Dynasty, so the current bell, a much smaller one weighing only 5 tons, was cast. The original one can now be seen in Stele Forest.
Must-see Bell Tower
The engravings on the doors reflect the decorative fashion of Ming and Qing Dynasties, recounting popular stories of ancient China.

On each side of the base, there is an arched door 6 meters (20 feet) high. In the past, vehicles were allowed to pass through the arches, but as the city has grown the volume of traffic has become too great, so a bright, spacious pedestrian subway has been constructed under the tower. The entrance to the tower is from this subway.

A fenced-in area around the tower is planted with grass and flowers. In early spring, the tender plum blossoms and bright new grass surrounding provide a harmonious contrast. Not far from the tower, modern shopping malls and a brightly decorated square reveal the prosperity of the city. When night falls, lanterns hung from the eaves illuminate the tower, making it even more enchanting.

The Bell Tower definitely deserves a visit on your trip to Xi'an.

For detailed information on Dynasties, please refer to History of China

How to Get to Bell Tower:

 By Metro:
Take Metro Line 2 and get off at Bell Tower Station.

 By Bus:
1. Take bus no. 6, 11, 26, 46, 16, 29, 35, 208, 209, 603, 605, 608,  609, 616 ro Bell Tower South; take 15, 32, 43, 45, 201, 215, 218, 221, 222, 251, 252, 286, 300, 604, 611, 612, 618, 622 to Bell Tower West; take 4, 12, 37, 229, 235, 600, 618 to Bell Tower North.

2. Xi'an City Sightseeing Bus
Almost all the city sightseeing buses pass by Bell Tower.
Xi'an Bus / Metro Search
Entrance Fee Bell Tower only: CNY 30
Drum Tower only: CNY 30
Joint ticket of Bell and Drum Tower: CNY 50
Opening Hours Peak Season (usually March - November): 08:30-21:30 (Ticket selling stops at 21:00.)
Off Season (usually December - Feburary): 08:30-18:00 (Ticket selling stops at 17:30.)
Recommended Time for a Visit One hour
Note: Children under 1.2 m (3.9 ft) or no more than 6 years old can enter for free when accompanied by an adult.

 Recommended Nearby Attractions:
1. Drum Tower
2. Great Mosque
3. City God Temple
4. Gao's Grand Courtyard

 Further Reading:
Beijing Bell and Drum Towers
Zhangye Bell and Drum Tower
Top 10 Things to Do in Xi'an
- Last updated on Sep. 20, 2023 by Gabby Li -
Questions & Answers on Bell Tower of Xi\an
Asked by David Teoh from MALAYSIA | Dec. 03, 2019 07:57Reply
how to go to the Bell and Drum towers from Grand Mercure Hotel on Renmin Square..
Answers (1)
Answered by Zoe from USA | Dec. 03, 2019 23:02

From your hotel, walk southwest around 550 meters to get to Xinchengguangchang Bus Stop. Then take bus no.You7 to Bell Tower North Bus Stop. After arriving, you can see the scenic area.
Asked by lui from AUSTRIA | Apr. 26, 2019 23:44Reply
performances at drum and bell tower Xi'an
Do you know what the times are for the beating of the drums and does it vary throughout the year? wondering when would be last time in the day. Thank you
Answers (1)
Answered by Anna from NETHERLANDS | Apr. 27, 2019 23:50

Bell Tower 9:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00.
Drum Tower: 9:00, 10:30, 11:00, 14:30, 16:30.

Each performance lasts about 10-15 mins.
Asked by ASHATAN1903 | Jan. 13, 2017 22:55Reply
Bell and Drum Tower Square
I will be staying at the Ibis Xi'an Heping, 59 Heping Road Bei Lin, Beilin. How do best travel from my hotel to the Bell and Drum Tower Square and return? Information including times and prices would be appreciated. I believe it is quite beautiful to visit at night. Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by Danielle from USA | Jan. 15, 2017 01:35

Hey, it is best to take a taxi to reach the towers and return. A single journey takes no more than CNY10 with normal traffic condition. The driving time can be 10min or so.
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