Hakka round house heritage Chinese castles need protection


China's history stretching back thousands of years has seen the migration of people and mixing of ethnicities.

Including the Hakkas - a group of Han people who left their home in the north a thousand years ago, and settled in the south.

They adapted to the local environment and developed their own unique language, homes and architecture...

Now, the government wants to better preserve their legacy, including adding the Hakka Round House - dubbed a "Chinese Castle" - to its list of world heritage sites.


Yangcun is a village in Longnan County in central China's Jiangxi Province.

Here, houses stand together and form enclosures, in typical Hakka style.

Despite being a "round house", the enclosure can take in shapes both round or square.

The building style could date back to late Ming Dynasty 400 years ago, when the Hakkas first arrived in Jiangxi during their migration south.

Throughout all these years, its facade is fading.

But still there's some who don't want to leave.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) MR. XU, Round house resident:

"It was quite bustling here in the old days. People slept on the upper floor. Now most of the residents have moved out."

For Xu, the building is his only home.

But during the war, it became a fortress.


"This round house called Yanji is the highest one in the county. It's built in 1650 with the highest point stands 14.8 meters above ground. It's mainly used to defend enemies. And its walls go 2.3 meter deep underground to stop enemies from going inside through tunnels."

The dual function of the round house won it fame as China's "Roman castle".

With the Chinese government putting it on its world heritage list - alongside the royal buildings around Beijing.

But despite more efforts to preserve the round house, challenges remain.


"On one hand, residents living in the building will cause damage. But on the other, if nobody's taking care of the building, it'll be under threat of leaking and erosion, because it's made of mud and can't stand water."

According to the latest national census on cultural relics, Jiangxi has about 600 round houses - 376 of them are in Longnan County.

The county has stepped up efforts to protect the relics - building up files on all the round houses in the region... And setting aside new funds, to repair them.

So more of China's history and ethnic culture, is preserved.