Tulou – Concealed Ancient Chinese Fortress | For hundreds of years, China’s fortified tulous have protected entire villages from outside intruders. Then came China’s modernization madness, leaving the old smelly tulou sites behind in decline. But recently an unexpected savior appeared: Tourism …
In 2008 a total of 46 remaining Fujian tulou sites were inscribed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site. About one decade later tourism finally caught up. The tulous are now open to strangers – exceptional examples of a building tradition and function exemplifying a particular type of communal living and defensive organization. UNESCO inscribed sites include the following groups: Chuxi tulou group, Tianluokeng tulou cluster, Hekeng tulou cluster, Gaobei tulou cluster, Dadi tulou cluster, Hongkeng tulou cluster, Yangxian lou, Huiyuan lou, Zhengfu lou and Hegui lou.
The Fujian tulou are Chinese rural dwellings unique to the Hakka people in the mountainous areas of Fujian. They were built between 12th and 20th century. The south eastern Fujian Province is located south of Shanghai, opposite of Taiwan. Tourists need to look out for “Nanjing Tulou Scenic Area”. That will be the target.
4 of the 46 tulou clusters stand out in one way or the other. There is Chuxi tulou group – the oldest one (built in 1113). Then you find Zhencheng lou – the “Prince of tulou”. It was built in 1912 by decendents of a rich tobacco merchant. Chengqi lou – the “King of tulou” (承啟樓), was built in 1709. Its out ring is measures 62.6 metres, with 3 more rings inside. Today 15th generation Jiang clan with 57 families and 300 people live here. At its heyday, there were more than 80 family branches lived in Chengqilou.
And then there is the remote Tianluokeng Tulou cluster (田螺坑土楼群) – an almost perfect tulou quintet located at Zhangzhou City, Nanjing County, about 4 hours drive by motor coach or taxi from Xiamen, through winding and bumpy narrow mountain roads. It consists of five tulous with a square “Buyunlou” at the center, surrounded by three rotunda tulous and an oval tulou, forming a pattern of “four dishes and a soup”.
BBC published an interesting video about these tulou sites: Tulou Concealed Ancient Chinese Fortress
Where to stay in Yongding (Longyan)
Although the tourist infrastructure is not yet satisfying, booking.com already lists 19 properties in the region. The cheapest property offers a bed for just 6 Euros per night: Panda Hostel, located at No. 203 Provincial Road, Xia Yang Town (Opposite the Xia Yang Bus Terminal Station), Yongding. 60 Euros will let you sleep in on of the 5 apartments at the Tianchen Crown Hot Spring. There is no luxury property listed nearby unless you accept driving 40 km down to Nanjing to check in at the Tsingpu Hotel. For an almost authentic stay in a tulou-ish property check out this one: Nanjing Qingdelou Inn (Taxia Village, Shuyang Town, Nanjing County, 363608 Nanjing). If reviews don’t lie, this hotel must be superb.