Historical Xi’an Landmarks To Visit For Free!

The Bell Tower and The Drum Tower are two famous Xi’an landmarks and you can visit them for free. They’re located right in the middle of the old walled city, so you can stroll (almost) right up to them and take all the photos you want. The only time you’ll have to pay is if you decide you also want to go inside the two towers. If you do, it’s only CNY50 to go inside both towers (or CNY30 for each tower) but you can see them perfectly well from outside.

The Bell Tower

As a (church) bell-ringer, I admit that I get excited about bell-towers! Chinese bell towers are rather different to those in Christian churches because they have a static bell suspended from a frame which the ringers strike with a long pole. I’m used to 360 degree rotating bells secured to a wheel on a frame, which we ring using a rope. Anyhoo – I digress.

The 14th century medieval wooden bell tower in Xi’an is the largest tower of its type in China. The tower stands 118 feet (36 meters) high with 2 stories topped off by 3 layers of eaves. It’s very colourful, with grey brickwork, green tiles, red-painted woodwork and gilding on the roof.

The Bell Tower, one of the most famous Xi'an landmarks

You can see the 5 ton hanging bell which replaced the famous Jingyun bell in the 16th century on the left side of this shot

The Bell Tower is located smack in the geographical centre of Old Xi’an city, with streets running North, South, East and West to connect the tower to the North, South, East and West Gates of the City Wall.

Traffic doesn’t run through the archways in the tower base any more due to expansion of the city. There’s now a roundabout encircling the tower and a pedestrian subway beneath the roundabout. This is where you can access the tower if you want to go inside to explore more. Or just snap those shots and move along…

The Drum Tower

Walking NorthWest across the Bell and Drum Tower Square from the Bell Tower, you’ll find the magnificent 14th century Drum Tower. It used to mark the passage of time and provided an emergency warning for the people of the old city.

Approaching the Drum Tower, Xi'an, China

Approaching the Drum Tower

There are 24 drums along the North and South sides of the tower. One huge drum is the biggest in China, covered by one whole piece of cowhide. Performers use this drum in daily musical performances. Sadly we missed the performance on our visit and I really feel we missed out!.

Ancient Xian Landmarks - The Drum Tower

My only regret is that we didn’t get to listen to one of the musical performances with all those drums.


Eastern charm and ancient history meet luxury and superb hotels in Xi’an. The vibrant markets that sell the freshest of tasty dishes to delight any foodie are the perfect place to relax after a trip round top Xi’an landmarks. If Xi’an isn’t on your bucket list yet, it should be !

What do you think the must-see sights of Xi’an are? Let me know in the comments below!

Coralie ♥

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The Bell Tower and The Drum Tower

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