Home China Guide Yongding Attractions Yongding Hakka Roundhouses

Yongding Hakka Roundhouses

Hakka earthen buildings (客家土楼, /ker-jyah too-loh/) are unique buildings with round or square shape, built with the mixture of clay and sandy soil. The unique Hakka Earthen Buildings has been inscribed by UNESCO as one of the World Cultural Heritage Sites in 2008. View World Heritage Sites in China .

Also read: Visit before It's Too Late: Seven Great Endangered Attractions in China (including Hakka earthen buildings).

Introduction

‘Fortresses’ on the Mountainous Area

It cannot be denied that the Hakka Earthen Buildings is totally different to traditional architectural style both in domestic area and abroad area. The Hakka earthen building was originally designed as a large fortress and apartment building in one. The people living in an earthen building are always belong to a family. Of the construction of these buildings, the main building material is clay, sandy soil and gray tiles, and bamboo chips play the role as rebar in modern construction. The wall could be thicker than 1 meter (3.3 feet), and the largest scale Hakka earthen building: Chengqi Building (承启楼, /chnng-qee loh/) was used to be a house for 800 people in its most prosperous times.

Because of their shape of an emerging mushroom, or of a falling flying saucer, these buildings were even believed by the Western countries as China’s nuclear reactors in the Cold War (1947–1991).

Structure of Hakka Earthen Buildings

yong ding earth buildings

The miraculous round building consists of two or three floors, with comprehensive functions, like kitchens, dining rooms, warehouses, bedrooms, guest rooms, ancestral halls, wedding and funeral venues, in one and in proper order. There are also wells, bathrooms, mills and other facilities inside the building. It was built by local raw soil without reinforced concrete and steels. Its foundation wall is three meters wide and is able to be constant in earthquake, fire or any attach. What is more, it has a good ventilation and lighting, and is warm in winter and cool in summer.

Most of Hakka earthen buildings have 3 or 4 floors: the first floor is used for kitchens and dining rooms; the second floor is for grain stores; and the third or fourth floors used for bedrooms. Then comes the question, do they have no sitting room or no bath room? In fact, most of the Hakka buildings have at least 3 rings (taking round Hakka earthen building for example: the out ring is the main part of the building which has been described above; the second ring is set with bathrooms, and the center is the sitting room, as well as the ancestral hall of the family. In the times of hundreds of years ago, the structure of Hakka earthen buildings had played a significant role on protecting the Hakkas from the attacks of wild animals and bandits.

Visiting Hakka Earthen Buildings and Experiencing the Architectural Culture

If travelers intend to pay a visit to the Hakka Earthen Buildings, Hukeng Town with Hongkeng Earthen Building Cluster (aka Hongkeng Folk Culture Village) and Xiayang Town with Chuxi Earthen Building Cluster, are the most recommended two towns of destinations. There are five roundhouses scenery spots open in both towns, namely Chuxi Roundhouses Cluster, Gaobei Roundhouses Cluster, Zhongchuan Ancient Village, Zhengfu Tu Lou Scenic Spot (Nanxi Tu Lou Comples) and Hung Ken Folk Culture Village.

Its structure has rich cultural connotations, reflecting the unity and friendship of the Hakkas from generation to generation. Hundreds of Hakkas live together in the tremendous building harmoniously. Whenever entering the Hakka Earthen Buildings, you can immediately feel the deep sense of the harmonious atmosphere and the broadness and steadiness of history.

Travel Tips and Inns in Hakka Earthen Buildings

Because the famous Hakka earthen buildings in Yongding are dispersive and it is really inconvenient to transfer buses to travel among these attractions, the best way of visiting is joining a tour group, and you’d better as least stay a night in Yongding (if not, you might be really hurry and tired). Several Hakka earthen buildings have been developed into inns, and you can live in these inns to enjoy a unique experience. However, the accommodation condition of these inns is clean and simple, but not as good as those hotels.

Location

Yongding Hakka Earthen Buildings are situated in Yongding County, Longyan City, west of Fujiang Province. Yongding is about 307 kilometers (about 4-hour drive) from Xiamen (check out the transportation information between Xiamen and Yongding ), and it would be a nice itinerary to visit Yongding when you have seen the sights in Xiamen. You can join in the tour of Guangzhou and Xiamen combo, and spend one day (the second day) in Yongding. What’s more, you can contact us to have us customize a tour to Yongding for you.

List of Famous Hakka Earthen Buildings

In Yongding County

Hongkeng Earthen Building Cluster (洪坑土楼群, aka Hongkeng Folk Cultural Village)

yong ding earth buildings

Located in Hukeng Town, Hongkeng Tulou Cluster concentrates the most kinds of earthen buildings in Yongding County. There are about 100 earthen buildings of various sizes in the long and narrow village which lies along both banks of a river. Some of the house designs are unique, including the Zhencheng Building, Fuyu Building (“Five-Phoenix Building”), Kuiju Building, and the mini round Rusheng Building. The village strides the Jinfeng Creek and is set in a graceful landscape which represents the harmonious fusion of different cultural traditions and creates an idyllic landscape of outstanding quality.

1. Kuiju Building (奎聚楼): This is a palace-style square building; it has a high front and low back and a neat and exquisite layout. It contains numerous valuable sculptures, color figurines, paintings and calligraphic works. It’s dubbed the Potala Palace of earthen buildings.

2. Fuyu Building (福裕楼): The quintessential form of the “Wufeng Building” in Yongding, this building features an orderly structure, a neat layout and a strong emphasis on symmetry. The construction is perfectly adapted to the topography of the slopes behind the building, making it an awe-inspiring sight.

3. Rusheng Building (如升楼): Rusheng Building, a miniature round earthen building, was built in 1901 and is the smallest one of its kind ever found. It has a diameter of 17 meters and three floors with just 16 rooms. It’s a corridor-style single-ring round building. Its name “Rusheng” conveys the owner’s best wishes – rising like a sun and shining for millennia.

4. Zhencheng Building (振成楼): The earthen Princess Zhencheng Buidling was built in 1912. Its outer building has 48 rooms on each of its four floors. The rooms are divided into four grades according to the “Eight Diagrams” with firewall in between; they form separate courtyards and are interconnected through doors, forming an integrated whole. The inner circle has two floors, housing an ancestral hall and rooms for social functions. The multi-ring concentric architectural structure is a mix of Chinese and Western architecture, making the building a gem of round earthen buildings.

Chengqi Building (承启楼)

Located in Gaobei Village, about 5 kilometers from Hongkeng Tulou, Chengqilou is the largest of the earth buildings. It is almost three hundred years old and is made up of four concentric circular buildings. This King of Round Earth Building has altogether 400 rooms and used to house 80 families, totaling more than 600 people in its most prosperous days. Dubbed “the king of round earthen buildings”, it is the most apt description of this massive and ingeniously designed building.

Nanxi Earthen Building Cluster (南溪土楼群)

Nanxi near Hukeng Town snakes through the green mountains and lush foliage. Earthen Buildings dot the vast fields like pearls scattered among the verdant mountains and green streams, creating a magnificent and elegant sight.

The Chuxi Earthen Building Cluster

Chuxi Earthen Building Cluster (初溪土楼群)

The Chuxi Earthen Building Cluster in Chuxi Village consists of five round buildings and many square buildings, located in the middle of hills. Three massive round buildings and one square building are situated near the river and are hidden among the deep mountains and lush vegetation like a treasure waiting to be discovered. Chuxi Earthen Building Cluster is considered as the most graceful one in Yongding County.

Zhongchuan Ancient Village (中川古村落)

Situated in Xiayang Town, this village has a population of two to three thousand, but about 3,000 overseas Chinese trace their ancestry to this village, which makes it one of the leading ancestral homes for Chinese for other countries. In ancient times, a family produced five third-degree scholars in the imperial examines and another family produced four ministers over three generations. Another family, both the father and son achieved third-degree scholar titles. In modern times, a number of prominent people have emerged from this village. Hu Zichun was a successful zinc miner; Hu Wenhu, a patriotic overseas Chinese leader; Hu Zhaoxiang was a senator in the Republic of China; Hu Yichuan, a prominent artist; Hu Chengfang, a renowned diplomat; and Hu Xian, an international press tycoon. Historians call this extraordinary production of eminent people “the Zhongchuan Cultural Phenomenon”.

In Nanjing County (南靖县)

Hegui Earth Building (和贵楼)

It is the earthen building built on a swamp over 200 years ago. It covers an area of 1947.3 square meters and has 5 stories and is 21.5 meters high. It has 140 rooms and is the largest earth cluster in the area. The whole earth cluster is amazingly stable considering it was built over swampland. With 220-pine logs as its base, this building looks just like a huge boat anchored in quagmire.

Huai Yuan Earth building (怀远楼)

 It is the most delicate earthen building. This round building is the well-kept fortified earthen building. The most attractive part of the building is the "Si Shi Shi", which is the place where the family members study.

Yuchang Earthen Building (裕昌楼)

It is a skewed building: Located in Nanjing County, Yuchanglou was built in 1308 and is one of the oldest existing Tulou. This five-story earth building is most famous for its tilted pillars. The most extreme is slanted at 15-degree angle. Yuchanglou has been like this for more than 600 years and remains intact today; Because of its uniqueness, it is one of the most interesting buildings in the area.

Tianluokeng Earth Building (田螺坑土楼群)

It is a group of plum-shaped earth buildings. The group of buildings is composed of 1 square building, 3 round buildings and 1 diamond-shaped building.  The square building is located in the center, and the others surround it. When looking at it from the air, the group of buildings looks just like a plum flower in full bloom.