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The Drum Tower
2016-09-07Text Size: A A A

Located at Gongyuan Road, Ningbo, Gulou (the Drum Tower) is the only city tower of Ningbo. In the first year of the Changqing Period in the Tang Dynasty (821), Han Cha, governor of Mingzhou (now Ningbo) relocated the prefectural government from Xiaoxi to Sanjiangkou, Ningbo. Centering on the area which nowadays is from Zhongshan Park to Gulou, government premises and city walls were built up and formed a region historically called “Zi Cheng”(an extension of the old city), of which Gulou is the south gate. Later the south gate was named as Wang Hai Jun Men (sea-gazing barrack gate), Feng Guo Jun Lou (barrack tower of national defenders) and Feng Guo Lou Shen Ci (shrine tower of national defenders), etc. Destroyed at the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty, it was named “Mingyuan Lou” after reconstruction. When Fang Guozhen led his rebellious army attacked and occupied Ningbo, Mingyuan Lou was destroyed again in fire, and was renamed as “Haishu Lou” and the two characters “Haishu” was taken from the poem “Yun Xia Chu Hai Shu, Mei Liu Du Jiang Chun (clouds are tainted with sunglow when the dawn comes upon sea, and the Yangtze River is tainted with spring when plums bloom and willows green)”, when being rebuilt in the Wanli Period of the Ming Dynasty. In the Qing Dynasty, Haishu Lou was rebuilt for quite a few times. When being rebuilt in the fifth year of Xianfeng Period (1855), it started to become widely known as “Gulou” (the drum tower) because there is a watchman’s drum on it. After the Qing Dynasty, a quadrate steel reinforced concrete observatory and an alarm bell stand were built in the three-story tower, along with an etalon clock being set on top, which can be seen from all directions, and this is just how Gulou looks like now.

Gulou was entitled Feng Guo Jun Lou Shen Ci (shrine of barrack tower of national defenders) by Emperor Gaozong in the Southern Song Dynasty. According to Annals of the Yin County, at that time, statues of Zhang Xun, Xu Yuan and three other generals, who sacrificed their lives fighting against the rebellious army of An Lushan in the defending Suiyang during the Tianbao Period of the Tang Dynasty, were enshrined in the tower. Zhao Gou, Emperor Gaozong of the Song Dynasty, made a narrow escape from Jin troops by hiding in the tower. He thought he was saved by the five generals, so he issued an edict to honour the five generals, and entitled the tower as Feng Guo Jun Lou Shen Ci.

Gulou is a three-floor timber frame building, appearing grand and unsophisticated. The wall is built with bricks, with a base of huge stone slabs. It is eight meters tall and six meters wide, and has a north-south doorway in the middle leading to the roof. When you ascend the Haishu Lou, you see everything in full view. It is a famous place of interest in Ningbo.

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