Drum Tower & Bell Tower
Drum and Bell Towers are a traditional feature
of Chinese cities and in Beijing, they are located to the north
of Prospect Hill. The Drum Tower is one of the oldest buildings
in Beijing. The present building is nearly 600 years old and was
once the center of the old Mongol capital Da Du (founded in the
13th century). In imperial times, 24 drums would beat out to mark
the time and the changing of the night watches. Now only one drum
remains but you can still enter and climb up to the top of the tower.
The 33 meter (108ft) high Bell Tower is located just north of the Drum Tower. It was first constructed during the Ming dynasty in 1420 but was later burned down. The present building was reconstructed under the reign of emperor Qianlong in 1745. The copper bell, which replaced an earlier iron bell that is still intact, rang out over the city at 7pm every evening until the practice stopped in 1924.