Tucked into the mountains in Fujian are clusters of self-contained micro-villages. Shaped like little donuts and positioned closely together, the houses of the Hakka people are a perfect protection from the outside world.
The Hakka people, although originally from central China, have migrated throughout the last 1000 years to the mountainous regions of Southern China. As a smaller minority group, the tight-knit Hakka people needed protection from marauding bandits and other dangers in the new territory. For protection and to simultaneously create a strong community, they developed a style of house that could accommodate entire communities. With their own unique language and culture, the Hakka needed to create their own secure villages in the South.
With security in mind, the Hakka began with earth packed walls sometimes six feet thick and formed into circles. After building the massive outer circle, and adding only one entrance, they developed the interiors of their new, tiny village. Completely self contained, wooden tiers were built on the inside looking out over a main courtyard area.
Some of the villages contained up to 80 families and were as large as 40,000 square meters. As perfectly defensible structures, many of the earthen buildings have survived throughout centuries, living through bandit attacks and earthquakes. The most famous cluster is the Fujian Tulou cluster, in the village of Tianluokeng.
The cluster in Tianluokeng is centered around a square building, constructed in 1796 and surrounded by the typical circular earthen villages. There are five well-preserved structures in total and they are part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage Site.
More than 35,000 earth-rammed buildings still exist across Fujian and Guangdong, and can be toured and visited.
Know Before You Go
Four hour drive from Xiamen