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Archery Tower 箭楼

Qianmen 前门
Archery Gate

The Archery Tower 箭楼 (Jiàn Lóu) was built in 1439 during the reign of the sixth Ming emperor, the Zhengtong, 正統 (Zhèngtǒng) era. The Ming Dynasty was founded in 1368 and had their first capital in Nanjing.

It wasn't until 1403, at the beginning of the Yongle 永樂 (Yǒnglè 1402-1424) reign, that the capital that the emperor made the decision to move the capital to Beijing from Nanjing. It allowed him to shake up the court and remove power from those who had opposed his takeover of the throne and place a firmer power base in the north to oppose the Mongols who remained a threat. The construction of the city lasted from 1407 until 1420. The Archery Towers weren't added until 1439, well after the central palace and walls for the Inner City were finished. The Archery Towers added additional fortifications to the main gates of the Inner City by creating an entrapment space between the two gates. If an enemy breached the first, the archers from both sides could fire down upon them.

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Last update: August 2009
© Marilyn Shea, 2009