Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Bell & Drum Towers

Helpful info:
Admission fee: Bell Tower: CNY 12
Drum Tower: CNY 20
Opening hours: 09:10 - 17:00
Visit time: 2 hours
Bus route: 5, 60, 210
Subway: Loop line

During the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties these towers were used to ‘tell the time’. Located in the Dongcheng district of Beijing. Drum Tower was built in 1272 at the time of the Yuan dynasty.

It was rebuilt 3 further times and was made of wood reaching a height of 47 metres. 25 drums stood on its second floor – 1 large one and 24 smaller drums of which only the big drum remains.

The drum is beaten for 15 minutes duration 4 times a day. The Bell tower which is 48 metres high also has 2 stories and is made from bricks and stone. In the middle of the second floor is the large copper bell.

Hung on a wooden frame it is the heaviest bell in all China and is beaten with a round wooden peg. As official musical instruments in ancient China, bells and drums were used later to tell the time and became ‘watches’ for the officials and commoners alike.

Early to bed and early to rise must have been the motto during the Qing dynasty. At 7 pm the drum was beaten and then the bell followed. This told people to go to bed. Then at 9pm, 11pm, 1am and 3am the bell was beaten so as not to wake the people. At 5am the drum was again beaten followed by the bell telling the population it was time to rise! The ritual was to beat the instruments 108 times, 18 rapid followed by 18 slow strokes.

text taken from accommodation-olympic-games



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