Originally built in 1272 and used for communicating city curfew times, the bell tower was a focal point for ancient Beijing until it last rang in 1924. It has been rebuilt several times over the ages, most recently in 1747 – although significant restoration was undertaken int he 1980s. It’s role was to signal the end of nighttime curfew at the start of the working day.
The current construction, built from bricks and stone, is a bold two story building. After climbing the long flight of stairs to the top, you meet the huge copper bell, which replaced the iron original over 500 years ago when it was deemed too quiet.
The unmissable core of the Bell Tower is, of course, the huge bell at its heart. Made from 63 tons of copper, it can be heard across Beijing. Long, ornate wooden poles were used to ring it.
Although it is no longer one of the tallest buildings in Beijing, you can still get great views across the city and of the neighbouring Drum Tower.
Tickets: 15 RMB (single), or 30 RMB (combination ticket with drum tower).
Opening hours: 9:00 – 17:00.
Recommended visit: 1 hour.
Transport: take metro line 8 to Shichahai (什刹海) and walk north for 500m from exit A2.