We’ve had the fortune of visiting two World Heritage sites this trip – our first one was the Nanjing Earthen Houses – an amazing site to see, especially since it provided a different perspective on the modern day China than we have seen so far.
The Nanjing site is famous for the unique round multi-story structures that were built by the Hakka people over 100 years ago for defensive purposes. About 10 remain today surrounded by village clusters where clan descendents still live. The oldest one we saw was built in 1380! We drove about two hours from Xiamen up into the hills to get to these structures and in that time we went from modern day China back to an older, simpler life. We stopped in a small village and had a “country” lunch, then passed several banana, tea, and palmelo farms before reaching these early homes.
All of the structures are either square or round/oval shaped with a outer cement-like layers and wood on the inside. Each contained an open-centered roof and a well within the structure.
Today, very few of the original families that lived in these homes still live there, but a few still do! Now, most of the people there are vendors who rent space to sell tourist souvenirs, but you can still get a good idea of how people once lived, as they still have active gardens, chickens, and grains that they harvest outside the home.