The word “tower” doesn’t quite do justice to the enormous structure of the Xian Bell Tower (Zhonglou) rising on an imposing square base to a series of terraces and three graceful pagoda roofs. Originally built in 1384 during the Ming Dynasty, it has become a symbol of Xian thanks to its stellar views and classic Chinese architecture.
While the original bell no longer rings to announce the dawn, visitors can still see it within the imposing structure at the center of China’s ancient capital. The building's location makes it nearly impossible to miss. Most Xian tours stops at the Bell Tower, along with other notable Xian attractions, such as the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, Xian City Wall, Muslim Quarter, and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Bell Tower is a must-see for all first-time visitors to Xian.
- Choose between a single-admission ticket to the Bell Tower or a combo ticket that includes the Drum Tower as well.
- Give yourself about an hour to visit the tower and take in the great view.
- A visit to the Bell Tower involves climbing steps and is not wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The Bell Tower is about as central as you can get in Xian. The easiest way to get there is either to walk from other areas in the city center or ride the Metro (Line 2) to Bell Tower Station. Numerous public buses also stop at the tower.
When to Get There
The Bell Tower is open daily throughout the year, with extended hours during the warmer months (March to October). If possible, avoid visiting on weekends and Chinese national holidays.
Relocation of the Bell Tower
When the Bell Tower was first constructed, it stood next to a Drum Tower on the ancient city’s central axis. When the center changed after continued growth, it was relocated 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) east of its original site—a notable achievement in 1582. Everything you see today is original, except for the base.