Historical Drum Towers of China

Drum towers have been an essential part of Chinese culture for a long time now. Similar to the town squares and plazas of Europe, drum towers served as the places where town officials and people gathered, conversed, and traded. In addition, judicial businesses like passing judgments, laws, and punishments happened there as well. They also represented the authority of the elders and whenever they gave a decision, they would sound the drums and people would gather around the towers to hear them.

xian tower of historical drum towers

One of the most historical and impressive drum towers in China is the one in Xi’an. True to fashion, this tower is quite literally in the heart of the city. Its history goes back to the Ming Dynasty which started the construction in the 14th century. Since then, it has been the symbol of Xi’an and its most visible icon. The Xi’an tower has two stories and in the first one, there are bigger drums that have traditional carvings and motifs on them. Some of these drums are nearly thousand years old so they don’t allow people to touch them. Aside from providing beautiful views, the tower drum used to let people know that the day ended.

xian tower of historical drum towers motifs
xian tower of historical drum towers side profile

Usually, the drum towers were accompanied by bell towers nearby. The Chinese made these towers together and in close proximity. While the drum towers indicated the end of the day, the bell towers indicated the start of it.

xian tower of historical drum towers close up

One other historical drum tower in China is the Drum Tower of Beijing. Located in the capital of the country, the Gulou, as the locals call it, is one of the most historically significant buildings in the city. The tower originally belonged to the Yuan Dynasty and for nearly 700 years it served as an administration building. In 1925, however, Feng Yuxiang, who took control of China after a military coup, took away the tower’s official status and turned it into a clock tower. Today, the tower is also a museum and a popular attraction.

beijing tower of historical drum towers
beijing tower of historical drum towers from far
Sebastian Dahler
the building in beijing
beijing building exterior