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Kaiping Diaolou

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The diaolou or fortified watchtowers found in Kaiping, it is located 130 kilometers southwest of Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong.

Erected mostly in the early 20th century, the fortress towers at Kaiping were built by famously outbound Kaipingers, who brought home the many architectural styles they saw abroad, including Islamic, Roman and even ancient Greek.

The Diaolou were fortress-like buildings constructed with a dual function in mind: for housing and as a defensive structure to provide protection against forays by bandits. The multi-storey towers had thick walls with slits for surveillance and their solid structure meant that they could withstand both enemy attacks and inclement weather such as flooding. Approximately 1,800 fortress towers still stand amid Kaiping’s vast rice fields.