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Why Bell Tower is special ?
Right in the center of the bell tower is an octagonal bell-cot, with the huge copper bell cast in it and "Yongle Fine Day, Ming Dynasty" hanging on it. The bell is 7.02 meters in height, 3.4 meters in diameter and 63 tons in weight; it is the biggest and heaviest ancient bell in extant China, called "the King Bell". In ancient Beijing, the age with no tall buildings, the sound it made was so powerful that it could be heard from dozens of miles away. In the first place, an iron bell which was also cast in the Yongle era was hanging there, but the sound the iron made was not very good, so it was soon replaced by the copper one we see nowadays. The iron one still remains, leaning against a wall, and it has been part of the collection belonging to the Ancient Bell Museum attached to the Great Bell Temple for many years.
What to explore at Bell Tower?
This brick and stone made building has two floors: there is an arched door on all four sides on the first floor, and you can go up to the second floor through stone stairs. The same exists on the first floor. An arched door was also built on the four sides of the second floor. Additionally, there is a stone window on each side of the four doors. Hanging on an eight-square wooden frame of the second floor, the bell in it is the largest and heaviest in China. It is 7.02 meters (23 feet) high including the pendants, with a weight of 63 tons (138,891 pounds). It was made of copper, and you can hear its round and clear sound from far away. The two 2-meter-long (2 yards) wooden logs hanging sideward are used to ring it.
How to get to Bell Tower?
Subway Line 2 (Ring Line): get off at Guloudajie Station, get out of the station from Exit B (southwest exit), and walk south.
Or Subway Line 8: get off at Shichahai Station, get out of the station from Exit A2 (northwest exist), and walk north straightly.
Take bus 5, 60, 107 or 124 and get off at Gu Lou Station.
- Beautiful architecture
- Ancient Beijing's timekeepers.
- The biggest and heaviest ancient bell
- The King of Ancient Bells
- The powerful sound from dozens of miles away.
China, Beijing, Dongcheng, 铃铛胡同
Tips for you
They have a tea house at the First floor of the Bell tower
These two separate attractions are located a few hundred metres north of the subway stop. Both are quite tall with approximately 70 steep steps up to the top of each. They provide great views of the greater Beijing area as well as an amazing history of Beijing. Both attractions are open at 9am and it is worth it to be there right at opening to miss the tours. However, fairly late in the day (after 2pm) will also work. There is a limited area at the top of each tower and a queue at the bottom in case of crowds. You may buy tickets to both attractions at either one. Neither is wheelchair accessible and requires a lot of climbing up and down approximately 8 stories.The Drum Tower is first. 25 drums of various sizes are on display and most are still functioning. In fact, there are demonstrations of how the drums work at approximately one hour intervals throughout the day. It is absolutely worth it to stick around for the demonstration (it lasts about 10 minutes), but either bring ear drums or stand out on the open patio to escape the sound. Free tours take place a couple of times a day in different languages.The Bell Tower is a two minute walk north. It is approximately the same height and also has the same features as the Drum Tower with demonstrations (at opposite times as the Drum Tower) and infrequent guided tours. This is also worth the time and energy to hike up the stairs and I dare say louder than the drums!It takes about 1.5 hours to complete both of these attractions and is well worth it from the historical perspective as well as for the views. Go.
I loved visiting these two towers. The information is quite good, and you can buy a discounted ticket if you enter both the Drum and Bell Towers. There are regular drum performances at the Drum Tower, so look out for times for those. The views from the top of both are great, try and go on a smog-free day. It's never very crowded, and the surrounding hutong are good to explore as well. I slightly prefer the Bell Tower as it seems older and more authentic. The stairs are pretty steep, so take care whilst climbing up and down. They can be a little hard to find.
Two things made our visit to the towers exceptionally nice: 1. We went on a clear day, when we could see quite a long ways. If you are in Beijing on a rare, blue sky day, this would be a stand-out choice. 2. We happened to be in the Drum Tower for a drum performance. I don't know where the times are posted; our show was at 10:30am. There are about a half dozen performances per day. Be aware: There are a lot of steep stairs to get to the tops of both towers.