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Bell and Drum Tower
The Bell Tower is located in the center of Xi’an, the intersection of the North Street (Bei Dajie), the South Street (Nan Dajie), the East Street (Dong Dajie) and the West Street (Xi Dajie). It was built in 1384 Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang as a way to dominate the surrounding countryside and provide early warning of attack by rival rulers. It is 36 meters above ground and the base is 1,337.4 square meter in size, 8.6 meters high and 35.5 meters wide. Originally a huge bell hanging beneath its roof served to give battle signals for the city's defense system.
The tower has three layers of eaves but only two stories. Inside it, a staircase spirals up. The grey bricks of the square base, the dark green glazed tiles on the eaves, gold-plating on the roof and gilded color painting make the tower a colorful and dramatic masterpiece of Ming-style architecture. In addition to enhancing the beauty of the building, the three layers of eaves reduce the impact of rain on the building. The engravings on doors of the Tower reflect the decorative fashion of Ming and Qing Dynasties, recounting popular stories of ancient China.
A fenced-in area around the tower is planted with grass and flowers. In early spring, the tender plum blossoms and bright new grass surrounding the old tower provide a harmonious contrast. Not far from the Tower, modern shopping malls and a brightly decorated square reveal the prosperity of the city. When night falls, lanterns hung from the eaves illuminate the tower, making it even more enchanting.
About 500 meters northwest of Bell Tower stands another magnificent building, the Drum Tower. It was initially built in 1380. There is a big drum placed on the tower, which was hit at dusk everyday for giving the correct time, hence the name. The base of Drum Tower is 1,924 square meter, and the height is 34 meters.
The architecture style of the Drum Tower is a combination of the styles of the Tang Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty. However, the Drum Tower also has some innovative features. For example, it should be mentioned that there is no iron nail used anywhere in Drum Tower.
Standing on the second floor, you will notice that there are twenty-four drums in the north and south sides of the Drum Tower. These drums stand for the Twenty-four Solar Terms which is a kind of weather calendar created by the Chinese ancients in order to guide the agricultural production.
Bell Tower stood near the Drum Tower on the central axis of the city in the beginning, however, the geographical center changed. Therefore, in 1582, the Tower was moved 1,000 meters east of the original site.All parts are original except for the base，which make it a truly notable achievement in the architectural history in China.