Hakka Roundhouses (also known as tulou, “福建土樓” in Chinese, fújiàn tǔlóu in pinyin) are a highlight of ancient Chinese architecture. If you are visiting China, the southern province of Fujian is one of the best places to see them.
The Hakka are an ethnic minority in the region, and their monumental communal housing structures, designed as livable fortresses, date back possibly as early as the 12th century right up to the 20th century.
Eight locations of Hakka roundhouses are now designated World Heritage Sites. “Hakka” means “guest people” or kèjiārén (客家人 in Chinese), and is a word derived from Cantonese for the traveling tribes who settled in the south.
Though they are generally called roundhouses, they come in various shapes, including square, oval, and pentagonal. Their Chinese name tulou indicates their walls are made of earth. In Chinese, tǔ means earth and lóu refers to building.