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 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 one offers a bed for just 6 Euros per night: Tulou Panda Homestay. It’s a hostel/simple hotel located close to the central bus station for travel to/from Xia Yang. For those of you happy with simple but honest accomodation, the Tulou Panda Homestay will be an awesome place with great, clean rooms and facilities and an excellent vibe. The host can arrange motorcycle rides to the Tulou, if you wish. People here have specially adjusted motorcycles that fit 3 people – 1 driver, 2 pax.
Other than that, 60 Euros/70 Dollars will let you sleep in on of the five 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.
Tulou Concealed Ancient Chinese Fortress. By Chili & Chirp | © International Destinations | Header photo by Vmenkov (wikipedia cc) | Read more travel related articles about China here -> Understanding Chinese Tourists