There are three main Tulou areas in Fujian: Nanjing, Yongding, and Hua’an. Nanjing Tulou and Yongding Tulou are the best-known thanks to their typical and representative characters.
The Tulou inhabited by the Hakka is large clay buildings (they can have up to 5 floors) of the square, rectangular, oval, or round shape with (almost) no openings to the outside, exception of high windows and a large and solid entrance door.
These examples of buildings, exceptional in size, tradition, construction, and function, are based on community life and defensive needs while maintaining a harmonious relationship with their environment”. 46 Fujian Tulou were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008.
It is this magical setting that served as the backdrop to represent the birthplace of the legend Mulan immortalized on the big screen by Disney studios in 2020.
Chinese Name: 南靖土楼
Location: Nanjing County, Zhangzhou City, Fujian Province
Ticket A: 100 RMB (including Tianluokeng, Yuchang, and Taxia village)
Ticket B: 90 RMB (including Hegui, Huaiyuan, and Yunshuiyao village)
In the Tulou area of Nanjing, you can discover:
The tallest square Tulou: He Gui Lou
Founded in 1732, the Tulou of Hegui rises on five floors to a height of 21.5 meters high.
The oldest Tulou: Yu Chang Lou
Founded in 1308 by the clan of the Liu family, it is the oldest of the existing Tulous. It is also “the inclined Tulou” because its pillars are leaning (the most extreme forming an angle of 15 degrees with the vertical). Today, 700 years later, its structure still remains intact. It is quite authentic, and people still live in it despite the fact that it is open to the public. In this Tulou, each of the kitchens is equipped with an individual well, which is unique in the Tulou. There is also a temple in the middle of the courtyard in the shape of a mini Tulou which once served as a school.
The Most Special Tulou: The Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster
It is a cluster composed of 5 Tulou (a square, an oval, and 3 circles) located in the village of Shangban. Many people identify this arrangement with “four dishes of courses and a pot of soup”.
The best-preserved Tulou: Huai Yuan Lou
Founded in 1909, the Tulou of Huaiyuan is a complex of two rounded Tulou. It rises on four floors of 14.5m and includes 136 rooms. It is beautifully decorated, the best-preserved, and very unique in terms of its architectural features.
In the Tulou area of Yongding, you can discover:
The Gaobei Tulou Cluster
The Gaobei Tulou Cluster includes more than a dozen Tulou where the “king of the Tulou” – Cheng Qi Lou – is found.
Cheng Qi Lou
The most famous Tulou of all! He is also called “the king of the Tulou”. Founded in 1790, it consists of four concentric circular buildings. With its 400 rooms, this King of Tulou could accommodate, in its most prosperous days, more than 80 families, making a total of 600 people. Inside this Tulou, there are 4 other circular walls, which are also composed of rooms as well as a temple of the ancestors in its center. Moreover, the maze of alleys formed by the interior walls is very surprising. The sunbeams that sneak in here and there give an even more unique atmosphere to the site.
Qiao Fu Lou
Built-in 1962, this building is therefore quite recent compared to the Tulou which dates from the 13th century! The construction was also financed for the most part by the Chinese populations settled abroad. For this reason, this 3-story Tulou incorporates elements of rather Western architecture, such as the columns that support the temple of the ancestors. This Tulou is also known locally by another name, “Bo Shi Lou” (meaning Doctor’s Tulou in Chinese) because there are 11 residents of this Tulou who have obtained doctoral degrees.
The Chuxi Tulou Cluster
It is the most scenic Tulou cluster in Yongding. It consists of five round buildings and dozens of square buildings on the surrounding hills. They are well-proportioned, showing a very high aesthetic and artistic value.
You can also visit Ji Qing Lou, Sheng Qing Lou, and Yu Qing Lou, which are typical Tulou in this Chuxi Tulou Cluster. If you want to discover the daily life and customs of the locals, you could spend one night in the Tulou.
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