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HomeGreat Wall › Famous Sections of Great Wall
Famous Sections of Great Wall

Great Wall in Beijing

Beijing is not only the political center of China, but it is also the most strategic city in the north. Many dynasties in Chinese history actively built walls in this area. Among many historical ruins of the Great Wall in Beijing, the wall built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) is the most often seen and best preserved, running over 373 miles and containing about 827 city wall platforms, 71 passes and countless towers. The famous Great Wall sections include the Badaling, Huanghuacheng, Mutianyu, Jiankou, Gubeikou, Jinshanling and Simatai great wall.

If you want to experience the culture and enjoy the beauty of the Great Wall, meandering along the bricks of the Badaling Great Wall is your first choice. It is famous for its deep-rooted culture, magnificent sights and complete military facilities - the essence of the Great Wall. You may find many pictures of it in magazines and guide books and printed on stamps. Being the must-see section of the Great Wall, it is sometimes flocked with visitors especially during holidays.

You may want to avoid the peak seasons or visit the Mutianyu Great Wall instead. It is even more beautiful and has fewer tourists. If you are nostalgic for old times, the Simatai and Gubeikou sections should be on your itinerary. These two sections are well maintained in their original states. The strong, primitive walls enhance the beauty of the wilderness.

If you are energetic and daring, adventures on the Huanghuacheng and Jiankou sections await you. The steep peaks and broken bricks will challenge your courage and curiosity. Remember to bring complete a mountaineering outfit, food and water. Water is unavailable on the wild sections. Different sections of Beijing's Great Wall can satisfy many different interests.

Great Wall in Gansu

Gansu Province is one of the provinces which have the most sections of the Great Wall. Recent research shows that the walls built in Gansu are mainly the relics of four dynasties: Warring Periods, Qin, Han and Ming. The total length reaches 2,734 miles, which is indispensable to the study of the Great Wall of China and the history, geography and culture of western areas in China.

The construction of the Great Wall in Gansu follows the principle of using local materials. In the northeast mountainous areas, the wall was built from the local large pieces of stone or bricks, which couldn't be obtained in the dry western Loess Plateau and desert belt. The clever ancient laboring people built the wall by ramming the earth as solid as stones. This dense earth made the body of the wall difficult to deform and split. Jiayuguan Pass is a typical example built in this way. In the desert area, people created the wall by laying local branches of red willow, reeds and sand layer upon layer. Yumenguan Pass and Yangguan Pass are relics of this kind.

The present state of the Gansu Great Wall is the result of using compacted earth; hundreds of years have not been kind to this ancient section. One third of the section is basically complete, one third is broken and the rest is disappearing. The wall in Gansu is not an exception. It is suffering from both natural disasters and human intervention. The natural factors include wind erosion, floods, heavy rains and earthquake. Human activities are even more destructive. Ever ready to innovate and use their surroundings, local people have used parts of the wall in order to build railways, highroads and houses. In Gansu, the valuable wall relic built during Warring States is only half of the original 373 miles. The Great Wall of Han Dynasty is only left 621 miles compared to the original 1,367 miles and 621 miles of the Great Wall of Ming Dynasty can be seen from the original 870 miles.

Jiayuguan Pass of Great Wall (Jiayuguan)

Located about six kilometers (four miles) southwest of Jiangyuguan City in Gansu Province, the Jiayuguan Pass (Jiayuguan in Chinese) represents the western starting point of a section of the Great Wall constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The pass covers an area of 33,500 square meters (eight acres) and lies at the base of a narrow valley, and takes its name from one of the surrounding hills, the Jiayu. Commonly referred to as the finest example of its kind on earth, the pass is the best preserved of the Great Wall's ancient military fortresses.

The Jiayuguan Pass was constructed as far back as 1372. Legend has it that the official charged with overseeing the building of the pass demanded that the foremen not squander a single brick. The builders were for the most part successful, and the project was finished with just one brick surplus to requirements. It was actually left at the site and has become famous among the tourists visiting the area.

The Jiayuguan Pass is constructed in three concentric layers: the central area is made up of an inner city, containing the largest of the pass' buildings; an outer city section, surrounded by a large wall dotted with watchtowers, turrets, and high-terrace pavilions; and finally, for purposes of defense, a moat. All of these features combined to make it a daunting prospect for any would-be attackers.

Jiayuguan Pass

Encompassing an area of 25,000 square meters (six acres), the inner city is trapezoid-shaped. It is enclosed by the city wall which runs for 640 meters (2,100 feet) and reaches a height of up to 11 meters (36 feet). The inner city has both east and west gates, known as the Guanghua and Rouyuan respectively. Each of the city gates is also protected by its own smaller guard tower. The tower defending the west gate is known as Luo City. From it hangs a plaque with characters that read: "The Greatest Pass under Heaven".

In the inner city are some tourist spots including Youji Jiangjun (an official title)'s Mansion, Wenchang Hall and Jing Pavilion. Found outside the fort's east gate are the Guandi Temple, a series of grand archways and a theater tower. On the west side stands a grand stele housed in a pavilion. The four Chinese characters found etched on its surface - 'Tian', 'Xia', 'Xiong' and 'Guan' - were written by Li Tingchen, a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) commander.

There are also a number of other historical sites to be found in the Jiayuguan Pass region. These include the Overhanging Great Wall in the north and the First Frusta in the south.

Yumenguan Pass of Great Wall

Originally known as Small Square City, the Great Wall Yumenguan Pass, together with Yangguan Pass, is one of the two important passes on the western frontier of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220) lands. It is located 56 miles northwest to Dunhuang City, Gansu Province, at the western end of Hexi Corridor. In ancient times, it was the crucial gateway from central China to the western regions.

In the early Han Dynasty, the Huns ceaselessly invaded the Han's area. At first, the weak Han rulers attempted to marry the daughters of imperial families to the Huns' leaders, in hope of gaining temporary peace. When Emperor Wu rose to power, he immediately gave up this cowardly policy by launching fierce counterattacks on a large scale. Finally, the Hun's troops were driven back. In order to strengthen the stability of the western frontier, this wise emperor ordered Yumenguan Pass and Yangguan Pass to be set up along the Hexi Corridor. Henceforth, these two passes of Great Wall, like two royal soldiers, honorably began to guard the western gate for their motherland.

In the past, the beautiful jade was transported to the inner China through this pass via the Silk Road, which gave the pass its name, Yumenguan, or "Jade-Gate Pass" in English. At that time, Yumenguan Pass served mainly as a post station for businessmen, military generals and ambassadors. It has witnessed the prosperity of business transactions along the Silk Road. The silk peculiar to inner China was transported to the western region in an endless stream. Cultural aspects of western China such as music and religion were introduced to central China at the same time. It is said that the grapes, pomegranates and walnuts now growing in central China were originally from the western area.

Two thousand years later, the light ringing sound of busy camel trains has disappeared. The cry of sellers in the markets is completely gone. Yumenguan Pass of Great Wall has lost its historic function. It is only a rectangular castle standing in the Gobi desert. It covers an area of over 232 square miles, measuring 27 yards long, 29 yards wide and 32 feet high. The pass was built of rammed yellow earth and has two gates - the west gate and the north gate. There is a walkway measuring 1.4 yards wide on the top. Nuqiang (a jagged parapet on the wall) was set there too. In the southeast corner lies the "Ma Dao" (Horse Ramp), by which people and horses could gain access to the top of the wall.

Climbing to the top of the pass, you can see the relics of the Great Wall and beacon towers scattered sparsely in the desert, creating an atmosphere of recalling the past.

Great Wall in Hebei

Hebei Province boasts for having the longest, the best preserved and the highest architectural quality of the Great Wall in China. The walls of the Warring States, Qin, Han, Northern Wei, Northern Qi, Jin and Ming Dynasties are well preserved here. The Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty, with more than 200 passes, zigzags over 1,243 miles through Hebei Province. Dozens of essential sections are famous to the world, such as the Laolongtou Great Wall, Jiaoshan Great Wall, Shanhaiguan Pass, Xifengkou Gateway, Zijingguan Pass and many others.

Shanhaiguan Pass holds the strategic route from north China to north-east China. Jiaoshan Mountain is the first mountain the Great Wall climbs in Hebei Province. The Laolongtou Great Wall is the section where the Great Wall meets the sea, thus it is compared to the head of this giant dragon. Xifengkou Gateway, now submerged by the construction of Panjiakou Reservoir, likewise possessed a strategically important position in history as did Zijingguan Pass where many famous battles took place.

Beijing - the capital since the Ming Dynasty - is surrounded by Heibei. The engineers of the section of the Great Wall in this area were very selective in constructional materials and paid a great deal of attention to the wall's quality. You cannot taste the majesty and might of the Great Wall until you come to Hebei Province.

The Great Wall in Zhangjiakou City is the highlight of the Great Wall in Hebei Province. Located in the northwestern part of Hebei Province, Zhangjiakou City is a famous historical city, a military town and a treaty port in the northern frontier. During a long period of time, it is the frontier location where the nomad civilization meets farming culture. According to the data, over 50 famous wars and historical events have taken place in Zhangjiakou City. At present, there are about 200 sites of ancient battlefields, fortresses, castles and army's offices.

Dajing Gate: It was built to hold the northern gate of the capital. It is the important line of communication between the frontier area and the inner land. It is one of the most famous passes along the Great Wall. In the past, at the interval of every 200 to 300 meters, there was a vigorous beacon tower. Today, the simple and massive gate is still the important road leading to the northern part of China. In order to protect it, Zhangjiakou City Government has made full restoration and comprehensive development to it. At present it is the provincial cultural relic protection unit and a hot summer scenic resort. In the peaceful atmosphere, the gate opens widely to welcome more business relations with various countries and districts.

Dushikou Fortress: translated as Single Stone Fortress, it is the most northern pass of Great Wall in Xuanfu Prefecture in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Located to the north of Chicheng County, it is named after a big rock standing before the pass. It is the turning point where the outer Ming Great Wall changes the direction from northwest to southeast and also one of the most dangerous passes in that time.

Shanhaiguan Pass of Great Wall

Built in 1381 in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Shanhaiguan is a town situated in the northeast of Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province. It adjoins the Bohai Sea to the southeast and the Yanshan Mountain to the northwest. The city wall of Shanhaiguan is still well-preserved. While the Shanhai Pass of Great Wall is now the main entrance to the town, in the Ming Dynasty the area to the north of Shanhaiguan was not Chinese territory. Following the complex physical features of this area, the northern area was once part of the defensive system of the Great Wall.

Now, however the Shanhaiguan Pass has become a famous attraction in China. As a Chinese saying goes, 'He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man.' There is truth in this saying because, if you do not visit the Shanhai Pass, you will not understand the military power of ancient China. At present, there are six primary tourist spots here, including the First Pass under Heaven, Laolongtou (Old Dragon's Head), the Temple of Mengjiangnu, the Jiaoshan Mountain, the Changshoushan Mountain (Longevity Mountain) and the Yansaihu Lake. Among them, the First Pass under Heavens and Laolongtou should be visited first.

The First Pass under Heaven is actually the east tower of the Shanhai Pass, called Zhendong Tower. It is 13.7 meters (44.95 feet) high with two floors. On the tower is a big board on which there are five huge Chinese characters 'tian xia di yi guan' (the First Pass under Heaven) inscribed by a calligrapher in the Ming Dynasty. Climbing up the Zhendong Tower, you will see that to one side of the tower is the rolling sea, while on the other lies the lofty Great Wall. Furthermore, the Jingbian Tower, Linlu Tower, Muying Tower and Weiyuantang Hall stand on the same axis with the Zhendong Tower. Depending on the complex geographic conditions, these five buildings provided a strong protective screen.

Laolongtou is the most eastern beginning of the Great Wall, which extends into the Bohai Sea. Standing here is almost like being on a peninsula as you can feel the overwhelming power of the rolling sea.

First Pass under Heaven

After that, you could go on to visit the Temple of Mengjiangnu, built before the Song Dynasty (960-1279) or climb the Changshoushan or Jiaoshan Mountain. Alternatively you could take a boat out on Yansaihu Lake.

Also in close proximity the Shanhaiguan Pass is the Great Wall Museum, which displays military relics and details the history of the Shanhaiguan Pass.

Great Wall in Inner Mongolia

The Great Wall begins its longest and most colorful journey when it arrives at Inner Mongolia. Since ancient times, Inner Mongolia has been the border where nomadic culture interlaces with the southern farming culture. Both the rulers of the Han nationality and the nomadic tribes actively built their walls in this land.

The vast Inner Mongolia land crisscrosses many sections of Great Wall in different dynasties. The Great Wall in this region has two features in general. The first is that it is the longest compared with walls in other provinces. It occupies one third of the total length of the Great Wall. Second, of the more than 2,000 years from Spring and Autumn Period to the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), almost every dynasty has left its own Great Wall in Inner Mongolia, which makes other regions incomparable.

The earliest Great Wall in Inner Mongolia is Zhao's wall built by Zhao State in Warring States, in the years around 306 BC to 300 BC during King Wuling's rule. The wall measures over 311 miles, most of which are built by rammed earth. Baidaoling Great Wall is located in the north suburbs of Hohhot (the capital of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region), and measures 6.6 feet high and 10.9 yards wide. It occupies an important military position. The beacon towers are densely distributed on the Great Wall. Within merely 0.3 miles, there stand six beacon towers, which have become an attractive scene in Hohhot. Sometimes you can see a few copper or iron arrowheads, which were used in the ancient wars scattered around. If you are lucky enough, you are even surprised to find ancient Chinese currency lying quietly at your feet. The Zhao's Great Wall is really important in Chinese history, the following Qin's wall was built just by connecting Yan's wall on the basis of it.

Compared with other well-repaired walls like Badaling Great Wall, the Great Wall in Inner Mongolia is less famous and incomplete. The recent archaeological work has discovered many more relics of the Great Wall in this area, which seems to lengthen the wall little by little, but at the same time, because of natural disasters and human destruction, the Great Wall in Inner Mongolia is shortening day by day. We must take immediate action to rescue it, or it will disappear in the near future.

Famous sections of China Great Wall in Inner Mongolia are listed below:

Jilu Fortress

Located to the northwest of Dengkou County in Inner Mongolia, Jilu Fortress was the passage in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220) to the area north of the Great Wall. It was the gateway to the northwestern region of the Han Dynasty. Lying against the Han Dynasty Great Wall in the north and neighboring Tushenze (an ancient lake), Jilu Fortress was a strategic passage for transportation between the north and south of Yinshan Mountain in ancient times.

According to historical records, Jilu Fortress belonged to Yuhun Prefecture, Shuofang County which was set up in 121BC in the Han Dynasty. In 51BC, when Huhanye Chanyu (The Khan of Hun who ruled from 58BC to 31BC) returned to his territory from the central plains, it was out of Jilu Fortress that the Emperor Xuandi of Han Dynasty dispatched troops to escort him home. At that time, the climate was better, and the land where Jilu Fortress is positioned was grassland rather than today's desert. Due to favorable resources of water, soil and daylight, the land was brought into cultivation. The Emperor Xuandi allocated grains grown in the farmland near Jilu Fortress as the food for Huhanye and his men. In 89, it was again through Jilu Fortress that the generals Dou Xian and Geng Bing attacked the northern Hun tribes.

From these historical events, we can see that Jilu Fortress of the Great Wall had great military and agricultural importance in the Han Dynasty. Today, the relic of Jilu Fortress is a 68.5 meters (74.9 yards) square city standing at a platform on a mountain slope. The remains of the wall measure an average of seven meters (23 feet) tall. The top is 3.7 meters (4.0 yards) thick and the bottom is 5.3 to 5.5 meters (5.8 to 6.0 yards) thick. Unearthed cultural relics include cord-marked bricks and tiles, arrows and a bronze crossbow. Within the purview of 6.2 miles around the Jilu Fortress, there are a dozen sites of beacon towers from the Han Dynasty which were used as a line of definse and an alarm system. Jilu Fortress and the beacon towers around it together made up the fortified strongholds on the northwest border of the Han Dynasty.

Gaoque Fortress

Gaoque Fortress of the Great Wall is an important pass in the Wall to the west of Zhao State. It is located in the Langshan Mountain Pass (Langshan Kou) stretching from the west of Yinshan Mountain to the east of Langshan Mountain. Bounded by the Mongolian Plateau to the north and cultivated plains along the Yellow River to the south, the region occupies an extremely important position to both the military and transportation. There is no earth in the mountains of this region, so the walls were often built with pieces of rocks. Having been affected by weathering and erosion for many centuries, the original purple or grayish rocks have turned into black or black-green, measuring 30 cm to 50 cm (0.3 yards to 0.5 yards) wide and 5 cm to 20 cm (0.05 yards to 0.2 yards) thick.

Gaoque Fortress was the first military pass built by King Wuling of Zhao in 300BC. The remains of Gaoque Fortress are located on a terrace of a steep cliff in Wulate Houqi in Inner Mongolia. It is composed of two small cities. The 40m (44 yards) square northern city was laid up by big pebbles. The southern city is rectangular, measuring 64m (70 yards) from east to west, and 48m (52 yards) from north to south, where cultural relics such as iron axes, arrows and plates were unearthed. The different styles of these two cities suggest that they were built in different times.

A 300m (328 yards) stone wall surrounds the city sites and connects to a small hill to the west. On the hill is a square stone building which is reputed to be the site of a collapsed beacon tower. Standing afar and overlooking the Gaoque Fortress, we can see two steep mountain tops standing opposite each other, just like a high gate tower (Gaoque in Chinese), and this explains why the name of this Great Wall fortress is called 'Gaoque'.

Great Wall in Liaoning

The construction of defensive walls has a long history in China. Early in the Spring and Autumn Period, every state was active in building protective walls against their enemies. Yan State was no exception. As it was one of the seven powerful warring states at the time. The western region of today's Liaoning Province is proved to be under the jurisdiction of Yan State, so here one can find many relics of the Great Wall. The wall of Yan State in Jianping County is said to be the earliest Great Wall in Liaoning, which was originally called "earth dragon" or the "stone dragon" by the local inhabitants.

The Great Wall construction didn't end with the following dynasties. Qin, Han, Northern Qi, Liao and Ming Dynasties all put substantial labor and money into the wall construction, which made Liaoning an area full of wall resource. The known walls in this region measure 2,350 kilometers (1,460 miles), Liaoning is proud to have the easternmost part of Great Wall, the Hushan Great Wall. This is a recent discovery in Chinese archaeological history, to widespread surprise, as it repudiates the earlier theory that considered Shanhaiguan Pass as the easternmost section of the Great Wall.

Most of today's walls in Liaoning are but historical ruins, scattered across the mountains and towns. In order to salvage these precious historical remains, Chinese government spares no effort to restore and protect them, with the hope of retaining their ancient and important magnificence.

Jiumenkou Great Wall

About nine miles from Shanhaiguan Pass, in Suizhong County, Liaoning Province, the grand wall spans the about 100-meter (0.06-mile) wide Jiujiang River. It is the Jiumenkou Great Wall.

This section of Great Wall was first built in Northern Qi Dynasty (479 - 502) and was an important military pass over a long period of time. It was rebuilt to a larger scale in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). The southern end of the wall starts from lofty mountains, connecting to the section of the wall running from Shanhaiguan Pass. It climbs along the mountain ridge till finally arriving at the banks of Jiujiang River. The wide river doesn't stop the wall's resolute pace forward. A huge wall bridge stretches over the river, forcing its way to the north.

The most significant part of Jiumenkou Great Wall is the section above the river. Seven hundred thousand hectares of rectangular stone slabs are embedded on the bed of the Jiujiang River, and the stones are held down by iron chain, which creats a historically famous sight of white stones. Nine arches standing above the stones serves as sluiceways, hence, the wall is called 'Jiumenkou', 'Nine Gateways' in English. The wall bridge is constructed over the arches connecting the two banks of the Jiujiang River. Two walled cities, both used as fortresses, are erected at both ends of the wall.

There are 12 watch towers, two sentry posts, two beacon towers, and ditches in the 1.2 miles of the Jiujiang Great Wall - a really complete military defense work.

Tips: The best time to visit Jiumenkou Great Wall is from May to Oct. It is extremely cold in the rest of the year. You can purchase special local products near the Great Wall. There are many delicious foods, such as at Old Lady Liu's Restaurant, The Wang's Restaurant of Simmering Bones in Soy Sauce. The local snacks are also very delicious, especially wheat products.

Great Wall in Ningxia

The Great Wall winds through 936 miles of the Ningxia Hui Minority Autonomous Region. Dynasties from Warring States, Qin, Han, Sui, and Jin to Ming all left their own walls in this area. Within 314 miles, there are 706 watch towers, 282 fortresses and 1,065 platforms distributed densely on the Great Wall. Chairman Mao's brave and proud utterance "You are not a true man if you haven't arrived at the Great Wall" was stated when he stood at Liupan Mountain in Ningxia and stared at the winding ancient walls below. Ningxia really deserves to be called "Hometown of the Great Wall" and "the Natural Museum of the Great Wall".

The relics of the Great Wall in Ningxia are mainly the walls of Qin in Warring States and Ming. The Great Wall of Qin in Warring States is the oldest wall relic in Ningxia as well as all over China. It zigzags over 124 miles starting from Jingning County in Gansu Province, northeast to Guyuan City in Ningxia and finally arriving at Zhenyuan County in the southeast. This section contains platforms of from three to ten feet tall every 219 to 328 yards. The construction of this section of Great Wall sacrificed many lives. In order to strengthen the wall, the king of Qin ordered laborers to first smash the yellow earth into powder, sift it, and then thoroughly steam it. The complicated working procedure and short construction period caused countless people to die from exhaustion.

Yanchi County, Ningxia

The remains of Ming's Great Wall in Ningxia are composed of four sections: the west, the north, the east and Guyuan's inner side wall. The west wall goes along the Yellow River from Zhongwei City northeastward to Helan Mountain. The east section of Great Wall begins at Lingwu County, goes south to Yanchi City and ends in Dingbian County in Shaanxi Province. The north section links the west and the east sections together. The total length measures about 0.8 miles and most sections were built from yellow earth. The Guyuan's inner side wall is located in Mahuangshan Village and travels from Mengcheng Village southeast to Yancheng City, moving towards the boundary of Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia. This section is unique in its style of construction. It was built by sharpening the hills into steep cliffs and channels which are difficult to overstep.

Ningxia is suffering a great deal from desertification. Most walls in this area lie beside windy deserts. Many, especially the earth-rammed walls, are being severely destroyed by wind, rain, and human activities. Additionally, the areas which the walls traverse are remote and poor, so the Great Wall is not protected because of the lack of financial support. A solution to save this precious but quickly disappearing "dragon" is urgently required.

Great Wall in Shaanxi

The Great Wall in Shaanxi are mainly distributed in Yulin, Yan'an and Weinan Cities. The total length measures more than 1,056 miles. Most of the walls were built in Wei, Qin, Sui, and Ming Dynasties. They are composed of city walls, terraces, barracks, beacon towers and watch posts. Because of the long history, natural disasters and human destruction, all that remains of the original Great Wall is the main part made of rammed earth. In history, Yulin Great Wall was famous and Zhenbeitai was known as the first tower on the Great Wall.

Yulin, north of Shaanxi, is located in the contiguous areas of Loess Plateau and the grasslands in Inner Mongolia. Throughout the ages, central China and the nomadic tribes ceaselessly fought for possession of this area of important strategic significance. Thus it became the necessary region where these two nationalities built their defensive works. Generally speaking, Great Wall in Yulin belongs to six historic periods.

Zhenbeitai (Pacify the North Tower), an observation platform and noted for the biggest terrace on the Great Wall, is located 3.1 miles north of Yulin City. It was built in the year 1607 in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) to protect the Horse Trade Market where Han people did business with nomads. Today the relic of this Great Wall tower is well preserved. You can climb to the top for a grand view of the beautiful desert beyond the pass.

Great Wall in Shanxi

The Shanxi sections of the Great Wall measure more than 2,175 miles, distributed in nine cities and over forty counties in Shanxi Province. Many dynasties throughout history built their walls in this area, such as the Warring States, Eastern Wei, Northern Qi, Northern Zhou, Sui Dynasty, Song Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. Among them, the Great Wall built in the Ming Dynasty was the largest extension.

Why have so many dynasties left their respective walls in Shanxi? Historically speaking, Shanxi has always served as the battlefield where the Han nationality in the Yellow River valley clashed with the nomadic tribe in the Inner Mongolia grasslands. Geographically speaking, Shanxi Province is located to the west of Beijing, so its Taihang Mountain shoulders the responsibility of guarding the west of the capital. Due to these two reasons, Shanxi has been a place of defense and military importance.

However, due to natural disasters and man-made sabotage, sections of the Great Wall in Shanxi are not exempted from destruction. On the contrary, the Great Wall is surviving in a very difficult state of affairs. Of the 2,175 miles of the original sections, only 932 miles exist today. Rescue the Great Wall, it is an extremely urgent task to everybody.

Yanmenguan Pass of Great Wall

Yanmenguan Pass of Great Wall is located in the Gouzhu Mountain ranges, within the Hengshan Mountain range, 12 miles to the north of Dai County, in Shanxi Province. Along with Ningwuguan Pass and Pianguan Pass, Yanmenguan Pass is one of three important passes through the inner line of the Great Wall in the Shanxi section. It is also known by other names, namely Yanmensai and Xilongguan. Located at a place of strategic importance and difficult to get through, it was regarded as the principal one of the nine passes under heaven in ancient times. Many famous historical battles have been fought in the area.

Yan means 'wild goose' in English, and was so-named because wild geese are seen flying around the pass every year. Early in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC - 476 BC), King Wuling of Zhao established Yanmen County in this region. The Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) built a pass called Xiting Pass by Yanmen Mountain, west of the present location. In the year 1374 during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), the pass was rebuilt and moved to today's location.

This Great Wall pass is 0.6 miles wide. There are three gates: the small north gate, west gate and east gate.

Yanmenguan Pass Gate

The small north gate is inscribed with the three characters, 'Yan Men Guan'; the west gate is labelled 'Di Li', meaning the favorable geographical location; the east gate is labelled 'Tian Xian', translated as the unbreakable stronghold. Adjacent to the pass, lies Jingbian Temple.

The Yanmenguan Pass of Great Wall is being well preserved at present. It is a precious ancient military relic, attracting more and more people who visit here to recall past times.

Great Wall in Tianjin

Jixian County, located in the extreme northern reaches of Tianjin, is a historical and cultural city. Human beings have inhabited the area for 8,000 years. In history, it was a point of battle. Many celebrities were born in this county. Numerous cultural relics can be found there, such as ancient pagodas, temples, inscribed steles and tombs.

Of those cultural icons, Jixian Great Wall is the most notable. It starts from Chixiayu in the east and ends at Huangtuliang in the west with a total length of about 41 kilometers (25 miles). Some people think it was first built in the Sui Dynasty, while others believe it was built in the Northern Qi. In the Tang, Jin and Yuan dynasties, there was no construction. During the Ming Dynasty, Jixian Great Wall became a very complete defensive system because of the constant additions.

Chinese people take pride in the Great Wall. In 1984, Party General Secretary Deng Xiaoping encouraged repairs to the ruined Great Wall. The Tianjin Government eagerly responded to his call and spent three years repairing Taipingzhai Great Wall, Huangyaguan Pass and a town connecting with Huangyaguan Pass, namely Pass Town (Guancheng in Chinese).

Taipingzhai Great Wall and Huangyaguan Pass are the two most famous attractions in Jixian County. Located 0.6 miles southeast of Xiaoping'an Village, Taipingzhai Great Wall is also called Taiping'anzhai Great Wall, which means the village of peace and prosperity. It measures 955 miles and connects the Phoenix Tower to the northwest and Water Pass (in Beijing) to the southwest. The wall is famous for the lofty mountain and marvelous structure. Huangyaguan Pass lies in the beautiful mountainous area northwest of Taipingzhai, 19 miles north to Jixian County. The whole section is built on the steep ridge. Composed of watch towers, city terraces, blockhouses and passes, the military defense system is complete and indestructible.

Jixian County is not far from Beijing and downtown Tianjin. You can take a coach bus or train from Beijing or Tianjin City to the destination. After arriving in Jixian County, you can find Huangya Pass Scenic Area along Jinwei Road.

Huangyaguan Pass of Great Wall (Huangyaguan)

Located in the mountainous area of Tianjin's northern Ji County, the Huangyaguan Pass of Great Wall was first built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (550 - 557) and repaired in large scale with bricks during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). When appointed as the chief commanding officer in the Ji Garrison (one of the eleven garrisons of the Ming Dynasty), Qi Jiguang added watch towers and other defensive works.

The Huangyaguan Pass comes out first in the ten most-visited sites in Tianjin. It is considered to be a miniature of the Great Wall of China. The entire section is built on an abrupt mountain ridge. Being endowed with both natural beauty and cultural interest, it has become famous as a natural beauty spot and a summer resort. The major scenic area is composed of Huangyaguan Pass and Taiping Mountain Stronghold.

Huangyaguan Pass of Great Wall

In 1984, the people of Tianjin spent three years repairing 3,308 yards of the main wall from Banlagang Mountain in the east to Wangmaoding Mountain in the west. They restored 20 terraces, the Huangya Water Gate, and the Bagua Castle (the Eight Diagrams Castle). The defensive system of the wall is complete. Watch towers, frontier cities, drain holes, emplacements, barracks and other indispensable military facilities are arranged orderly along the wall. Besides, the stele forests of the Great Wall, Beiji Temple, the exhibition hall of famous couplets, the Great Wall Museum (the first museum along the Great Wall) and the Phoenix Fortress have been newly built within the area.

Taiping Mountain Stronghold

Six miles northwest of Huangyaguan Pass and built 437 yards to 547 yards above sea level, the stronghold is located in Xiaopingan Village. It controls the Chongshan Valley east of Huangyaguan Pass City. Qi Jiguang's stone statue and a tower were erected by twelve widows from this area.

Huangya Great Wall welcomes tourists from all over the world, including many runners, who participate in the annual international marathon race.

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