For Whom The Bell Tolls (Biang Biang)

The Bell and Drum Towers are both iconic structures in Xi’an, and both still have a purpose today: the bell is rung at sunrise, and the drum is beaten during sunset.

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The Bell Tower of Xi’an

From a distance, the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower in Xi’an can look very similar, but the way  I differentiate between them is to emphasise the golden stupa atop the Bell Tower, which incidentally is slightly the more preferable tourist attraction. Built in 1384, during the Ming Dynasty, this Bell Tower in Xi’an is known as one of the grandest of its kind in all of China. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Bell Tower, and it has its own subway station on Subway Line 2. The subway in Xi’an is very easy to use, and far less congested than the systems in Beijing or Shanghai.

The view down from the Bell Tower platform
The view down from the Bell Tower platform
The Bell Tower provides a good photo opp!
The Bell Tower provides a good photo opp!

I enjoyed learning of the legends surrounding the construction and purpose of the Bell Tower. The legend goes that during the Ming Dynasty, there was a river running the city of Xi’an and residing in this river was an angry dragon; so angry that it causes earthquakes all the while. The ruler of Xi’an ordered the restraint of the dragon and it was sunk underneath this river. In order to keep it there and to prevent it from resurfacing and causing more earthquakes, a giant Bell Tower was constructed on top of the dragon’s place of demise – and no earthquake has since hit the city of Xi’an. Kind of cool, huh?

Xi'an's Drum Tower
Xi’an’s Drum Tower – it looks similar to the Bell Tower, but it is darker in appearance
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Inside the Drum Tower

The Drum Tower in Xi’an is a slightly less impressive structure than its sister iconic Bell Tower, and is seemed to be made of wood, although I’m not certain. You can get amazing panoramic views of Xi’an from the top of the building, which was constructed during the Ming Dynasty in the year 1380. As you may acknowledge from the name of the tower, there is in fact a drum located inside, which is beaten at sunset to mark the end of every day. The Drum Tower is located within walking distance from the more opulent Bell Tower, and also marks the beginning of the Xi’an Muslim Quarter. For a great bite to eat, this area is just for you, but make sure you spend at least an hour touring the Drum Museum here; may sound kind of boring, but the history surrounding this city never failed to amaze me!

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Biang Biang Mian
Biang Biang Mian

After such tourism in busy Xi’an, it was time to kick back, relax, and sample some of the city’s trademark noodles: Biang Biang Mian. It was always a goal of mine to sample some of these thick noodles, which I rank as one of the top 5 noodle dishes in all of China. I have seen them for sale in other countries in various “Chinatowns”, but there’s nothing like the real thing! Costing the equivalent of about $1, Biang Biang Mian filled me up for the day, so I didn’t need to stock up on chocolate and crisps in my hotel room!

Both of these towers are open at 08.30 every morning for visitors, and can cost you CNY35 each, although I got a great value dual pass, which enabled me to tour both towers for just CNY50. As for the Biang Biang, well, I paid CNY9 for my bowl, which is insanely cheap!

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6 thoughts on “For Whom The Bell Tolls (Biang Biang)

    1. Well, at least you got to see the main reason people come to the city, the Terracotta Warriors are awesome, if somewhat touristy. However I spent 1 whole week in Xi’an and I loved every day. It was nice to live like a local. 🙂

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