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The Bell Tower is situated in the very heart of Xi'an City and widely known as the symbol of Xi'an. It was originally set at the intersectiom of Xi Dajie-West Street and Guang Street in the Yingxiang Temple, which was the central part of the site of the old Tang Imperial City.
The Bell Tower is the hugest and most preserved-completed one among all the towers left from ancient China. As a matter of fact that Xi'an was the most important military base in northwest China, so that its Bell Tower either from dimensions or historical and artistic values have take the top position.
Its history can be traced back to the Ming Dynasty; at that time each Ming City should have a bell and a drum tower. The bell was sounded at dawn and the drum at dusk. The tower was built in the year 1384 of Hong Wu reign under the Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang of the Ming Dynasty. Though as we see today, it had gone through a tremendous removal in 1582. The whole process of such relocation was recorded on a plaque set in the west wall on the second floor of the temple. In details, when it was originally built in 1384, it stood just near the Drum Tower on the central axis of the walled city. And lasted for five dynasties as the center of the city since Tang Dynasty. With the highly development, the geographical center changed as well. That is the reason why the Tower was moved 1,000 meters east. All parts except for the base are
original; it is somewhat a wonder in history for that the whole process was accomplished quickly and in expensively.
The tower has a square-shaped brick platform, each side of which is 35.5 meters long and 8.6 meters high and on the top is a triple-eaved, two-story wooden structure with carved beams and color-painted rafters, a further 27.4 meters high. Colorful Dougong --a unique Chinese architecture of brackets inserted on the top of columns and crossbeams strengthen the building and enhance the artistic. The design of this kind is also perceptible from the engravings on bronzes dating back to the Warring States Period from 475B.C. to 221 B.C. The inside is a remarkable example of the very intricate roof truss system used in Ming and Qing wooden architecture.
In a corner of the brick platform is a Ming-period bell. Originally, the northwest corner of the tower housed the famous Jingyun Bell from the Tang Dynasty. Legend has it that although nothing had changed in the tower, the Jingyun Bell fell silent during the Ming Dynasty, so the current bell, a much smaller one weighing only 5 tons, was cast. The original Jingyun Bell can now be seen in Forest of Stone Steles Museum.
It is said that earthquakes occurred in succession killed many people in Ming Dynasty, and it is widely believed that an evil gigantic dragon in the huge undercurrent beneath the city caused it. Then the Tower built up on the place of where the dragon was trussed up, the earthquake stopped forever.
Still there was another story came down concerned with the first emperor of the Ming dynasty who was born into a poor family. He lived an orphan life after his parents' deaths, herding sheep for the rich landowners. Later, when he became the Emperor, afraid of being disposed by other royal descents, he ordered bell towers to be built all over the country to repress the "dragon spirits". Therefore, Xi'an was considered the center place where the "dragon spirits" run rampant.
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