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Unusual ancient buildings find new life in Fujian

By Li Jing and Hu Meidong in Longyan, Fujian | | Updated: 2024-06-06 20:19
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A bird's-eye view of the Zhencheng Lou, listed as a World Heritage site. [Photo by Wu Yuliang / for]

In the rolling hills of Fujian province, Shengheng Lou, a tulou in Longyan's Yongding district — with nearly four centuries of history — has been reborn. Once a massive communal residence, it is now a hotel.

Several fires had ravaged the structure and left it in a state of disrepair. But a significant investment of nearly 12 million yuan ($1.7 million) has transformed it into a modern boutique destination with 14 large suites. In 2023, the unusual hotel could accommodate around 5,000 guests.

The renovation of Shengheng Lou opened the door for Lin Hui, who returned to her hometown to manage it. Born in 1986 within the walls of another tulou in Yongding, she understands the territory, and the history.

"I felt grateful to find a job near home to further pursue my career and stay close to my aging parents," Lin said.

Tulou — the term translates literally as "earthen building" — typically has an earthen outer wall and an internal wooden framework. They resemble the large circular structures of ancient Rome from the outside, but those were built for battle.

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