The Drum and Bell Tower in Beijing is a fascinating historical site significant in the city’s rich cultural heritage. Located in the heart of Beijing, these iconic towers have become popular attractions for locals and tourists. As a traveler, exploring the Drum and Bell Tower is a must-do experience that offers a glimpse into this vibrant city’s ancient traditions and history.
How to get to the Drum and Bell Tower
Getting to the Drum and Bell Tower is relatively easy, as they are centrally located in Beijing. The most convenient way to reach this historic site is by taking the subway. The closest subway station to the Drum and Bell Tower is Shichahai station, which is served by Lines 8. From there, it is just a short walk to the towers.
If you prefer a taxi, tell the driver to take you to the Drum and Bell Tower (Gulou 鼓楼). Most taxi drivers in Beijing are familiar with this famous landmark, so you shouldn’t have trouble reaching your destination. It is also worth noting that the Drum and Bell Tower is within walking distance of other major attractions, such as the Forbidden City and Houhai Lake, making exploring multiple sites in a single day easy.
History and Significance of the Drum and Bell Tower
The Drum and Bell Tower has a long and storied history that dates back over 700 years. Built during the Yuan Dynasty in 1272, these towers were originally used to announce the time and mark the beginning and end of each day. The Drum Tower was home to a large drum beaten to signal the time, while the Bell Tower housed a massive bell that could be heard throughout the city.
In addition to their practical purposes, the Drum and Bell Tower also held significant cultural and symbolic significance. They were considered essential landmarks in ancient Beijing, representing power, prestige, and the harmony between heaven and earth. Today, the Drum and Bell Tower are reminders of the city’s rich history and are protected as national cultural heritage sites.
Open time and tickets
The opening hours are from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, with ticket sales ending at 5:00 PM.
The ticket prices are 20 yuan for adults, half price for students, and a combined ticket for the Bell and Drum Towers costs 30 yuan.
The drum-beating performances occur at 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:30 PM, 2:30 PM, 3:30 PM, 4:30 PM, and 5:20 PM.
Exploring the Drum Tower
Once inside the Drum Tower, you can climb to the top and enjoy panoramic views of Beijing. The tower is comprised of several levels, with each level offering a different perspective of the city. As you make your way up the steep staircase, take your time to appreciate the intricate architectural details and immerse yourself in the historical ambiance.
At the top of the Drum Tower, you will be greeted by a magnificent drum still used today for ceremonial performances. You may even witness a drumming demonstration and experience the powerful beats reverberating through the tower if you’re lucky. The rhythmic sounds of the drums echo the vibrant pulse of Beijing and serve as a reminder of the city’s ancient traditions.
Visiting the Bell Tower
Adjacent to the Drum Tower is the equally impressive Bell Tower. Like the Drum Tower, the Bell Tower offers breathtaking views of Beijing from its upper levels. As you enter the Bell Tower, you will be greeted by the sight of a massive bell that once served as a timekeeping device for the city. The bell is an impressive craftsmanship adorned with intricate carvings and inscriptions.
While exploring the Bell Tower, take a moment to appreciate this historic structure’s peaceful atmosphere and architectural beauty. The Bell Tower is a perfect place to escape the bustling city streets and immerse yourself in the tranquility of ancient China. It is also an excellent spot for photography enthusiasts, as the views from the top of the tower offer unique perspectives of Beijing’s skyline.
Highlights of the Drum Tower experience
One of the highlights of visiting the Drum and Bell Tower is the opportunity to witness a drumming performance. Throughout the day, skilled drummers gather at the Drum Tower to showcase their talent and entertain visitors. The rhythmic beats of the drums create a lively and energetic atmosphere, adding to the overall experience of exploring this historical site.
Participating in a cultural workshop is another Drum and Bell Tower experience highlight. These workshops allow visitors to learn traditional Chinese arts and crafts, such as calligraphy and painting. It is a unique way to immerse yourself in the local culture and gain hands-on experience with ancient art forms.
Must-see attractions near the Drum and Bell Tower
While the Drum and Bell Tower are undoubtedly remarkable attractions in their own right, there are also several other must-see sights nearby. One such attraction is the nearby Houhai Lake, a picturesque lake surrounded by traditional Chinese architecture and charming hutongs (narrow alleyways). Taking a stroll around Houhai Lake is a great way to soak in the atmosphere of old Beijing and discover hidden gems along the way.
Another nearby attraction is the famous Nanluoguxiang, a bustling street lined with shops, cafes, and traditional courtyard houses. This vibrant pedestrian street offers a glimpse into Beijing’s modern culture while retaining its historical charm. Exploring Nanluoguxiang is a must for any visitor to the Drum and Bell Tower, as it offers a unique blend of old and new Beijing.
The best time to visit the Drum and Bell Tower
The best time to visit the Drum and Bell Tower is during spring and autumn when the weather is mild and comfortable. These seasons offer the perfect conditions for exploring the towers and enjoying the panoramic views of Beijing. It is advisable to avoid visiting during the peak summer months, as the weather can be hot and humid, making it less enjoyable to climb the towers.
It is also worth noting that the Drum and Bell Tower are particularly magical to visit in the evening when they are beautifully lit. The illuminated towers create a mesmerizing spectacle against the night sky and offer a different perspective of their architectural beauty. If possible, try to time your visit to coincide with sunset, as it adds an extra layer of enchantment to the experience.
Visiting the Drum and Bell Tower in Beijing is a journey through time, allowing you to immerse yourself in this vibrant city’s rich history and culture. From the rhythmic beats of the drums to the panoramic views from the towers, every aspect of the experience is captivating and memorable. Whether you are a history enthusiast or simply looking to explore the hidden gems of Beijing, the Drum and Bell Tower should be at the top of your travel itinerary. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and prepare for an adventure transporting you back in time.