The bell tower & drum tower, Beijing, China

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The Bell & Drum towers 

In the center of Beijing, next to the Hutongs, there is a square. On each side of the square, you find a tower. The Bell tower and the Drum tower. Both towers were used during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasty to tell time. Where the bell tower announced sunrise, the drum tower announced sunset.

The towers are build during the year 1272 (Yuan Dynasty). However, a huge fire destroyed both towers. The towers were restored in the 15th century. You can visit both towers. Inside there is a historic display of artifacts or descriptions of events. Although it is a pretty touristy attraction, the area has a really nice vibe going for it.


The Bell 🔔 tower

It takes some stamina to get there, but once you have climbed the stairs, the view over the area is pretty nice.

Picture: Bell Tower Picture: Bell Tower stairs

Inside, a huge Bell can be admired, right in the center of the tower. You can walk all the way around the bell. Note the dragon shaped device that is used to sound the bell.

Picture: Copper Bell Picture: Copper Bell

Besides the nice view, in the bell tower many signs have been placed on which you can read the history of the bell tower. We spent about half an hour up there.


The Drum Tower 🥁 

Again, quite steep stairs! And again a good view once you managed to make it.

Picture: Drum tower Picture: Drum tower stairs

At the second floor, you find an exhibition area relating to time and drums. There used to be one big drum and 24 smaller ones. However, only a few drums remain at the moment.

Picture: Drum tower Picture: Drum tower

From time to time each day, a drum melody is performed for the visitors (the performance times you can find under “practical information” below). The performance is done with a certain rhythm. 18 quick beats, followed by 18 slow beats.  There are typically 3 rounds of drums with 108 beats because 108 times represent one year in ancient times.


Practical Information

On the square, you can buy a separate ticket to visit one or both towers, or buy a combination ticket for both towers which also includes a fun ride in a riksja through the Hutongs.

  • Bell Tower: CNY 15
  • Drum Tower: CNY 20
  • Combo ticket: CNY 30

Opening times: 09:00 to 17:00
Drum Performances at the Drum Tower: 09:30, 10:00, 11:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:45


Nanluogu Xiang

In the neighborhood, very close to the Drum tower (5 minute walk), you can find the famous Nanluogu Xiang street. This is a street full of shops and restaurants. On Nanluogu Xiang you can find many backpacker cafes too. When you have finished your Drum and Bell tower visit, take a stroll on this street!

Gulou Dongdajie

But before you do, wander around one of the few remaining Chinese Hutongs. A really nice area of old style Chinese neighborhoods.


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