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Fujian Tulou Building --- World Cultural Heritage in China



In 1960s, it was said that when American satellite pictured China’s territory from outer space, the working staff amazedly found there were many distributing unidentified large buildings, some were round and some were square. They thought them to be the missile-launch base; they had unexpectedly found China was so strong in military power! But that was misreading, even a fun. After the establishment of Sino-USA diplomatic relations, American focusers know these “missile launch base” actually was Tulou Building; a very typical civilian’s building in Fujian province, an east province in China.


 Tianluoken Tulou

Tianluokeng Tulou group in a shape of plum blossom

These small Tulou windows look like gunpoints

Crowned as the gem of world folk residential architectures, Fujian Tulou is mainly dispatched in the south of Fujian province, nearby Guangdong province. China has broad territory and time-honored history, the diversity of folk residential buildings, such as Siheyuan(Beijing folk living house), Weilongwu( in English: the encircling-dragon houses), Shikumen (literally "stone gate" is a style of housing in Shanghai, China, which blended features of east and west),cave house(a northern-style house, widely found in Shaanxi and Shanxi Province, It is looks like a cave, and often made in the steep loess cliff, it is cool in summer and warm in winter, generally in Yanan, as the holyland of China Communist Party, this kind of house could be found), bamboo house, a house widely built in southern China for humidity-resistance; as well as Mongolian yurts, a moveable house for stock raising, are world-widely famous, While the Tulou building in Fujian Province in the mountainous area is unknown in the world. Among Chinese traditional residences, Tulou building in Yongding is particular with the forms of square, round, octagon and ellipse. There are more than 8000 Tulou buildings over there. It is marvelous for its both functionaries in aesthetics and usage. 

The civilians of Tulou building is closely linked with the history of Hakka. Hakka people originally came from the middle or north of China, to avoid the annoyance and danger of wars and famine, they were forced to move to the southern China. (Historically, China has the tradition of immigration with the different motives. After Emperor Qin Shi Huang united China, and moved roughly millions of people to the territorial border and also migrated many people to the southern place, at that time an uncivilized area. In Han Dynasty, three major local administrative officials were established, and many central people moved there. During the Southern and Northern dynasties, due to the instability and wars, many people moved to southern area, which greatly enhance the productivity of southern China. In later North Song Dynasty, due to the south invasion of northern minorities, many people had to move to southern China, so did Tang Dynasty. ) These people live together under the thumb of caste, or they live together for their same family names. Since Southern Song Dynasty, they moved from north place to this unfamiliar area. They deeply knew they should work together to solve different problem in this unfamiliar place.
They live in the mountains to avoid the wars, but in mountains they so suffered from the annoyance and threat from local disputes and bustups, therefore, they established the huge tulou building to safeguard their family and farmland. Wherever they arrive, they were always living together, and then the particular building Tulou appeared.  



the interior  of a Tulou building

There were more than 8000 round and square tulou buildings in Yongding County. The round tulou buildings had 360. The diameter of the round building is 82 meters. The small is the Rushenglou in Hongcun village with the diameter of 17 meters. The oldest one is Chengqikou in Gaoding Village established in 1790. In building at most lived more than 80 families with the population of 360. The most magnificent and representative building is Zhengchenglou in Hongkeng Village

The initial style of tulou building was square. It had the palace style, mansion style and so on. People lived together in such a big building. There are many families in it. Generally it has many stories. The ground floor is used for kitchen, the second floor for food store and third floor for bedroom. Because in the southern china, it is often humid, especially in summer and spring, or during the time of plum rain season, so it is very scientific to make such an acute arrangement to avoid the humidity. Commonly, they also raise the domestic animals in buildings, there are also the wells. If enemy-resistance is necessary, they only need to close the gate and assign some young and masculine male to guard the gate. The tulou building is as powerful as the stronghold. People living in it are fully safe. The establishment of tulou building also considered the element of Fengshui theory, and such an old and mysterious principle is strictly used in tulou building. For example the lighting, location and landform are all carefully considered in the building. 



The materials of building are all from the local. Incidentally the round tulou building has the ability of anti-earthquake. In 1940, a severe earthquake happened, many square tulou were collapsed or broken, except these round tulou buildings. The round tulou building could resist the hurricane, in case the building fell in the trouble of fire accident, it can not spread. Tulou could defend the robber, if the gangsters enter the building, they will be hard to exit when the eight-diagram gate is closed. There are eight sides, and the top of each side, there was a watch room used for building defense.

Among so many famous tulou buildings, Zhenchenglou building is most famous, and it was the 19th descendants of Lin Family in Hongkeng Village. His name is Lin Zaiting. At that time, Lin led a poor life and he raised three sons, during the late Qing dynasty, he led his three sons to learn the skill, producing the tobacco knife. Early in North Song Dynasty, tobacco was introduced into inland from Philippines, at that time; tobacco became one important part of national income. These three sons grasped the opportunity of tobacco is welcomed in mainland and came back managed the tobacco business by themselves. They began their business from three Yinyuan (in English, Silver coin ) and built up a tobacco-knife factory entitled Risheng(日升,means the sunrise). Three years later, they built up over 10 factories in neighboring villages. Due to their professional work and the uniqueness of such skill, they finally became the millionaires  


These three brothers did many great deeds for villagers after they became rich. They built bridges, constructed roads, established the pavilions for cool in summer and built up the schools. Latterly, three brothers spent 200,000 in building the mansion-style square tulou building—Fuyulou(福裕楼,means auspicious and rich building ). In 1903, they built up an school with the style of tradition and westernization---Rixinxuetang,( 日新学堂, means school or college of changing per day). In 1912, Zhenchenglou building was completed, it was spent 5-year time due to the inconvenient transportation in mountainous areas at the cost of 80,000 silver coins.

In July 2008, Tulou building was successfully inscribed on the World Cultural Heritage List.











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