Xian's Drum Tower (Gulou), built during the Ming Dynasty, is set across from the equally ancient Bell Tower in the heart of the Old City. The structure's original purpose was to keep time, with its drums beaten each evening to mark sunset; sunrise was marked with the tolling of bells in the Bell Tower.
The Drum Tower, and neighboring Bell Tower rank among Xian’s most visited attractions. Visitors can climb to the top level of the tower for views across the city, browse the small museum, or watch one of the live drumming performances, which are staged several times throughout the day. The Drum Tower is included on most city sightseeing tours, along with the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Drum Tower is a must-visit for history buffs, families, and first-time visitors.
- Be prepared for a steep climb to the top of the tower; there are no elevators.
- Save money with a combined Drum Tower and Bell Tower ticket.
How to Get There
The easiest way to get to the Drum Tower is to take the Xian Metro (Line 2) to Zhonglou Station. Leave through Exit B and head west toward the Drum Tower. Several public buses also stop at Zhonglou Xi Station.
When to Get There
The Drum Tower is open daily year-round. Many travelers visit as part of a daytime sightseeing tour, but the Drum Tower is beautifully lit at night. Climbing up to the higher levels provides some fantastic views of the twinkling lights of downtown Xian.
The Drum, By The Numbers
In 1996, The Xian Drum Tower received a new drum, one of the largest in China. Covered in cow leather, the drum stands 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall and weighs 1.5 tons. The boom of the drum can be heard up to 3 miles (5 kilometers) away.