The Bell Tower 钟楼
The Bell Tower is possibly the most popular achitectural icon of the city of Xi'an. It was built in 1394 during the Ming dynasty and now sits in the center of a roundabout where two important avenues cross. In the old days people would just pass through the tunnel on their way in and out of town. As most renovated buildings in China, much has changed since its construction and what we see now is very different from the previous centuries.
As many places in China, the Bell tower also has it's own little legend.
In Ming Dynasty, several earthquakes struck Guanzhong area, thousands were dead and injured. Then a legend appeared: There was a great river flowing across the center of Xi'an City. A dragon in the river was always active and caused trouble, so an earthquake occurred. An official of Xi'an government believed these words, so he ordered the blacksmiths of the whole city to make a several thousand feet of long iron chain in order to lock the dragon and sink it to river. He then ordered 5,000 craftsmen to repair the Bell Tower day and night in order to use the tower to restrain the dragon. He believed this would suppress the dragon firmly under the river and so it would no longer be active and cause trouble again. After establishing the Bell Tower, earthquakes never occurred in Xi'an again.
The Drum Tower 鼓楼
The Drum Tower was built in 1380, so that's 14 years before the Bell Tower, for those of you who were calculating already. Inside this building you can find the biggest drum in the world, or so says the sign right next to it, stamped by the Guinness Book of World Records. Unfortunately while I was in Xi'an I wasn't lucky enough to catch one of the daily performances. They have a pretty nice museum on the third floor. Both the Drum and Bell towers of Xi'an are a lot larger than the ones in Beijing, most likely because of Xi'an's capital status for so long.