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Drum & Bell Tower, Beijing

Gulou Dong Dajie
China 100009's insider take:

Separated by a rectangular courtyard filled with trees, small cafés, and rickshaws, these two majestic towers are often overlooked by visitors. Don't make the same mistake, as this area is a most charming remnant of old Beijing. More than 150-foot high, the Drum Tower is a wide-bodied gem painted in red with a turquoise pitched roof, upturned eaves, and ancient Chinese insignias. The slimmer, gray-brick Bell Tower is more austere in appearance, with a crenellated fortification wall. First constructed in the ninth century but later rebuilt, the Drum Tower offers great views. Climb the 69 steep stone steps for a broad panorama of Houhai Lake and old hutongs ringed by Beijing's new sky towers and the outline of mountains in the distance. Only one antique relic of the original 24 drums remains, but large cylindrical replicas are on show, and watching the short drumming performance at 9 am is highly recommended.

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