The Bell Tower, is a stately traditional building,
that marks the geographical center of the ancient capital.
From this important landmark extend East, South, West
and North Streets, connecting the Tower to the East, South,
West and North Gates of the City Wall of the Ming Dynasty.
The wooden tower, which is the largest and best-preserved
of its kind in China, is 36 meters (118 feet) high. It
stands on a brick base 35.5 meters (116.4 feet) long and
8.6 meters (28.2 feet) high on each side. During the Ming
Dynasty, Xi'an was an important military town in Northwest
China, a fact that is reflected in the size and historic
significance of its tower.
The tower was built in 1384 by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang
as a way to dominate the surrounding countryside and provide
early warning of attack by rival rulers.
The tower has three layers of eaves but only two stories.
Inside, 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.
On the second floor, a plaque set in the west wall records
the relocation of the tower in 1582. When it was first
built in 1384, it stood near the Drum Tower on the central
axis of the city, and continued to mark the center of
the city since Tang Dynasty and the following the Five
Dynasties and the Song and Yuan Dynasties. As the city
grew, however, the geographical center changed. Therefore,
in 1582, the Tower was moved 1,000 meters (3,280 feet)
east of the original site. Except for the base, all parts
are original, and history tells us that the relocation
was accomplished quickly and inexpensively, making it
a truly notable achievement in the architectural history