Drum Tower

Drum TowerLocated in the centre of “Dadu” (the Yuan name for the capital city), Drum Tower was first built in 1272. At first the tower was named Qi Zheng Lou (or Orderly Administration Tower). After only a few years the tower was burned down in a big fire and then rebuilt on the same site in 1297. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Emperor Yongle ordered that the Drum Tower be rebuilt. This time the tower was placed exactly on the central axis from south to north. In 1950, as tone tablet was unearthed from under the Houman Bridge right in front of the Drum Tower. On the tablet were carved a mouse and the two Chinese characters for Beijing. The mouse symbolizes the centre among the 12 animals that represent the 12 Earthly Branches. There-fore, this carved inscription hints that the bridge is right on the central axis, which starts from the Zhengyangmen Gate in the south, crosses through the Forbidden City, passes the Coal Hill, and then stretches to the Bell Tower on the north. On a terrace four metres high, 55.6metres wide and 30 metres long, the five wooden-framed halls of the tower are roofed with yellow glazed tiles. While in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) , the Drum Tower was renovated twice, once in 1800 and the second time in 1894. In 1924, the Drum Tower was given another name, Ming Chi Lou meaning Remembering Humiliations Tower, in order to arouse the people’s patriotic enthusiasm to save China from imperialist powers. A popular educational hall was then opened inside the tower, which displayed ancient weapons and armour, cultural relics, and photographs of recent popular scientific inventions. During the wartime period after the September 18th Incident (the seizure of Shenyang in 1931 by the Japanese invaders as a move towards their occupation of the entire Northeast), an exhibition on the second floor of the Drum Tower showed a large map of China with a Japanese flag and rifle bayonet pointing to the Northeast. When the Drum Tower was set up, it was equipped with 24 drums, only one of which has survived. The other 23 were destroyed by the Allied Forces of Eight Imperialist Powers in 1900.

Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Drum Tower has been used as a cultural centre. In 1984, the Drum Tower was thoroughly renovated once again, with the financial help from the State Cultural Relics Bureau and the Beijing Municipal People’s Government.

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