When you hear the phrase "Hakka architecture", probably one of the first things that comes to mind are those donut-shaped tulou (土楼) earth houses in Fujian's Yongding county that are famous for being mistakenly identified as missile silos by an American intelligence agent. Less well-known—and shamefully underrated—are the 20,000 or so Hakka weiwu (围屋) buildings in Guangdong's Meizhou countryside (梅州), which have got everything you could ever want in a Hakka home and more.
Though not as well-known as Yongding, Meizhou is widely considered the unofficial center of all things Hakka, and thanks to a lack of overdevelopment, most of its traditional culture remains undisturbed. Most of the traditional architecture in the region is 200-300 years old, with the oldest dating back to 600 years ago. Though the buildings are scattered far and wide, a substantial number can be found around the Meixian (梅县) and Dabu (大埔) counties. And aside from a few of the more famous sites, most of the weiwu are visible directly from the roads and fields, in a variety of architectural styles:
Weilou (围楼式) structures come in two shapes, square and round. Big and breath-taking, arranged in huddle formation for protection, these weilou are among the grandest, most ornate and best-preserved you'll find in the region. You'll probably want to check out Tai'an Lou (泰安楼) and Hua'e Lou (花萼楼), two choices representatives of the Weilou style.
Tai'an LouView In Map
Add: Longgang Village, Dabu County, Meizhou
Price: 20 RMB
Getting there: take a cab from Dabu County
Hua'e LouView In Map
Add: Lianfeng Village, Dadong Township, Dabu County, Meizhou
Price: 20 RMB
Getting there: from Dabu Coach Station (大埔客运站) take a bus leaving at 6:50, 8:50, 13:40, 15:20 to Dadong Township (大东镇), then take a cab or motorbike to the site. Last bus leaves Dadong at 16:40.
Weilong style (围龙式) structures are typically situated on the side of a hill or mountain, spaced anywhere from tens to hundreds of meters apart. Architecturally unique yet neatly arranged, these homes are not spacious by any means but they still manage to cram in all the essentials. They can be found all over Meizhou, though they're most notably in Meixian, where you can find our chosen representative: Dihua Ju (棣华居).
Dihua Ju View In Map
Add: Xinlian Village, Baigong, Xiyang Township, Meixian County
Getting there: Take bus No. 8 from Meizhou's Wuzhoucheng bus station (五洲城汽车站) to Xiyang Baigong (西阳白宫)
3) "Sino-Western Fusion" style
"Sino-Western Fusion" style weilou (中西合璧式) take a traditional Hakka layout and pair it with Southeast Asian architectural style. Western window settings and furnishings and the addition of a balcony inject a fresh breath of air into centuries-old home design. The Lianfang Lou (联芳楼) and Lianhui Lou (联辉楼) are representative of this style.
Lianfang Lou View In Map
Add: Fuliangmei Village, Baigong, Xiyang Township, Meixian County
Getting there: from Meizhou's Jiangnan bus station (江南汽车站), take a bus going to Dabu (大埔) and get off at Baigong Xuzhen (白宫墟镇), then pay about 5 RMB for a motorbike ride there
Lianhui Lou View In Map
Add: 36 Yangkeng, Ganguang Village,
Getting there: take a cab directly from Meizhou
1) Most of the weiwu in Meizhou are also private residences. Admission is free at some buildings but remember to say hello to the head of the household as you enter; other homes may charge admission.
2) Many of the weiwu you'll want to see are quite spread out and public transportation is often not the most convenient option; you may want to think about hiring a car for the day. Also, ask locals for distance estimates so you don't lose track of time.
3) If you're pressed for time, consider confining your explorations to just Meizhou city, Meixian county and/or Dabu county. The weiwu there are more densely concentrated, and are quite representative of those in surrounding areas. If you've got time though, be sure to check out Jiaoling (蕉岭) and Xingning (兴宁) counties as well. And if that's still not enough, no need to pore over a map—visiting pretty much any county in the Meizhou is sure to satisfy your craving for interesting architecture.
4) Tianhe Coach Station (天河客运站) has buses leaving for Meizhou from 8:00-17:00. It should cost 120 RMB for the whole trip, taking about 8 hours. From Jiangnan Bus Station in Meizhou (江南汽车站) you can catch a bus to Dabu leaving every half-hour from 6:30-17:00. In Dabu you'll find buses going just about everywhere, and public buses in Meizhou can also take you to Meixian country, but otherwise public transport is not terribly convenient.
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Keywords: Guangdong Meizhou Weiwu Earth Houses Meizhou Hakka culture
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