A Bell Tower Keeps Time, Preserves History in the City Center
Like many historic sites in China, the Drum Tower isn't original. Rebuilt after the Cultural Revolution, the Drum Tower and its surrounding area is a well done recreation, with plenty of its own character. (The tower is now supplied with a bell, rather than a drum, however.) Street food stalls abound in the area, and at Chinese New Year (pictured), the surrounding streets and alleyways are decorated with red lanterns. Climb the tower (free), for some views of the city, though air quality and a 27-meter height limit the impressiveness. The Ming and Qing dynasty-styled architecture—traditional Chinese wood carving, stone work, and lacquer—is quite attractive.
Souvenir and antique shops are scattered throughout the nearby neighborhood; the usual caveat emptor of antique shopping in China applies.