Huiyuan was an important military and political center in Xinjiang during the Qing Dynasty. The city of Huiyuan was built on the north bank of the Yili River. The city wall is 4.67 meters high and the city has a circumference of 5580 meters. The mild climate in the Yili Valley, abundant rainfall and rich materials, and the benefit of the political and military center soon made Huiyuan a prosperous place.
Huining, Xinghun, Ningyuan, Gonghuan, Guangren, Suiding, Zhande, and Taerqi are located on both banks of the river Yili. These nine cities are the famous “Yili Nine Cities” in the Qing Dynasty. In 1871, the Czar of Russia began to invade Yili and the cities were damaged. The old city of Huiyuan was destroyed. Soon after, the Qing government established another city in the north of the ancient city of Huiyuan. The layout of the new city Huiyuan is identical to the old one.
The famous Bell and Drum Tower was built at that time. The building is located in the center of the city. It testifies to the never abandoned spirit of the Chinese. Attractions in the ancient city of Huiyuan include the Bell and Drum Tower, the General House of Ili, the Confucius Temple and several temples.