Beijing Great Wall

Beijing Great Wall

 


Hisstory of Great Wall in China

 

Great Wall of China

Upon the middle of 7th centuries BC, the State of Chu which located around Hubei Province and Hunan Province in modern China turned to be the first nation that connected each and every single beacon tower throughout its nation with city walls. Thus, the first Great Wall in China was formed. Anyway, during this period, it is just a small section of city walls and no one could have imagined that this small city walls will develop into the amazingly huge Great Wall in the future.

After that, the rest of the states discovered that the idea of Chu was ideal for military purpose, thus they started to follow and connected their beacon towers with city walls as well. During this time, this type of defend wall was named as Zhuhou Hufang Changcheng which means Great Wall for Inter-defending between States. The Great Wall which situated in the northern part of China including for States of Yan, States of Zhao and State of Qin which were built in order to avoid from the attack of enemies from the North were named as “Juhu Great Wall” (Great Wall for Defend Purpose).

After the Emperor Qin Shi Huang unified the whole nation of China, he had ordered his prince Fu Su and at the aid of Meng Tian, the General of State of Qin to lead 30 millions of soldiers to defend China from the attacks of Xiongnu from the North and at the same time, to build the Great Wall for the same purpose. The Great Wall was designed and built depend on the natural topography of the area. Through the advantage of the steep mountains slopes and rivers, multiple canopies of gateways were setup along the Great Wall accordingly. The Great Wall during Qin Dynasty was started from Lintao County of Gansu Province on the west and spread horizontally until Eastern part of Liaoning Province. In fact, the Great Wall during this period was actually constructed based on the entire city walls which were built separately by States of Yan, States of Zhao and State of Qin and connected all the walls together in a single line. According to the records found, it was said that the Great Wall during Qin Dynasty had already reached millions miles length. Further more, Qin Dynasty also decided to demolish the Great Wall for Inter-defending between States in order to maintain the unity of China. Thus, the Great Wall that we commonly discuss nowadays is referred to the ancient Juhu Great Wall which was built by several states of nation but later connected together during Qin Dynasty.

The large scale of construction and development for the Great Wall was kept on going even until Han Dynasty (25 to 220). General Huo was sent by Han Wu Di (Emperor Wu of Han) to fight with Xiongnu at the northern part of China. The Great Wall had played a very important role throughout the wars with the Xiongnu ever since before. Thus, the enlargement of the Great Wall is vital in order to keep the mainland safe from the attack of Xiongnu. For this reason, the Great Wall was constructed further to the western part of China somewhere around Jiuquan (Wine Spring) at Gansu Province at the beginning. Later, the Great Wall was extended to Dunhuang as well and at the same time constructed the famous Yumen Guan (Jade Gate or Pass of the Jade Gate) and Yang Guan (Pass of Yang Gate). Nevertheless, the Qin Dynasty also reorganized the existing town and villages into four cities consisted of Dunhuang, Jiuquan (Wine Spring), Wuwei and Zhangye. All these steps taken by Qin Dynasty were to cut off the relationship between Xiongnu at the northern part of China and the Qiang people who based in Qinghai Province while at the same time, ensured the smooth transfer of the Silk Road.

The largest scale of construction for the Great Wall was happened during the Qin Dynasty. However, there were record showing that many times of reconstruction of Great Wall was taken place after the decline of Qin Dynasty as well. There are historical records proved that some sections of the Great Wall were built within the reign of Northern Wei Dynasty (386 to 534) and Northern Qi Dynasty (550 to 577). Until Sui Dynasty (581 to 618), it was the seventh time for the reconstruction of the Great Wall. Anyway, the main reason for the construction of the Great Wall was remained the same, which was as the defense from the enemies from the northern part of China.

No development record of the Great Wall was found within Tang Dynasty (618 to 907) and Song Dynasty (960 to 1279) throughout the history. This was because the empire of Tang Dynasty had expanded far away from the reach of the Great Wall while during Song Dynasty; the empire was much smaller when compared to the area that could be reached by the Great Wall. Thus, for reason that was varied thoroughly, both these two dynasties showed no record of constructing the Great Wall.

The Ming Dynasty was strictly followed the policy of using Great Wall as the major defending methods. Thus, after the Qin and Han Dynasty, Ming Dynasty turned to be the third empire which carried out large scale of Great Wall constructions. Most of the sections of the Great Wall that we can witness today are basically as a result of the construction during Ming Dynasty. During the reconstruction, the sizes as well as the designs of the Great Wall were reorganized and therefore outcome with a standard look of the Great Wall as we see today. In order to strengthen the defend system of the Great Wall, throughout the ruling period from the first emperor Zhu Yuanzhang until the last emperor Chong Zhen of the Ming Dynasty, the projects of repairing Great Wall never been stopped. According to the records during Ming Dynasty, the Great Wall during that time had reached 11.3 miles which stretched horizontally across mainland China.

Some sections of the Great Wall were multiple layered, and some of them had reach as much as over 20 layered. If the multiple layered parts were calculated within the total length as well, the overall distance of the Great Wall would have reached 14.6 miles. Qin Dynasty, Han Dynasty and Ming Dynasty were the three main empires which contributed the most for the development of the Great Wall in China. If the sum of the distance of the Great Wall which was built throughout these three dynasties was calculated, the figure has no doubt will be more than enough to surround the Earth circle. Anyway, no construction of Great Wall was done during Qing Dynasty.

Nowadays, the Great Wall has lost its own military purpose as a part of the national defending system. However, the Great Wall is proudly stood as one of the most amazing human creations throughout the world as well as the best evidence of the Chinese civilization.


Beijing Great Wall

Great Wall 1

The Great Wall before the Ming Dynasty was basically made by soils and stones. However, the Great Wall which was built during Ming Dynasty, especially for the sections which were closed to Beijing city, rectangular huge stones was generally used as the basement of the wall while the wall body was built with special made bricks with soils and stones inserted within the wall body. Such designs of the Great Wall had enabled the fortifications to be very large and firm.
The Great Wall had contributed a lot throughout the history especially in avoiding the nation from the attacks from enemies at the northern part of China and therefore ensured the security and peaceful surrounding of mainland China. By the way, the Great Wall also helped to promote a safety business route of the Silk Road which allowed the cultural and business exchange within the western society and China.

The Great Wall which was built according to the natural topography of the mountains had therefore ensured a very high value of architectural aesthetics. The magnificent structure, which is made up by city walls, city towers, corner towers as well as beacon towers had drawn a beautiful picture which interconnected with lines and dots. Thousands of people had scarified for the construction of this huge creation, uncountable stories were surrounding this structure throughout the centuries. Perhaps, for the ancestors, the Great Wall might be a nightmare as they encountered the sacrifices and the sadness brought by the construction of the Great Wall. However, the Great Wall stands for the modern Chinese society as a proud story as it is listed as one of the 7-wonders of the world.


1. Badaling Great Wall

Badaling Great Wall is located at Yanqing District of Beijing city. It is part of the greatest human creation as well as a part of the strongest fortification system in ancient China. Badaling Great Wall was one out of the nine most important military gateway of China. Moreover, it is also the most important layer out of the four layered Juyongguan Pass. Besides being the essence of the Great Wall throughout the history, it is also a significant representative of the Great Wall of Ming Dynasty.

The Great Wall of this section was built in a higher level when compared to the other area near by. Thus, the precipitous feature of the surrounding as well as the exact location of the wall in such as height had all ensured Badaling Great Wall to play a very important role especially for military purpose. Moreover, due to the strategic location of Badaling, it used to be the most important transportation route which connected Beijing to Shanxi Province, Neimenggu Province and Zhangjiakou.

Badaling Great Wall can be described as the advanced guard of the Juyongguan Pass. The ancient historical records noted that the most challenges part of the Juyongguan Pass is actually the Badaling which located at the front layer but not the major Juyongguan Pass itself. The strategic location as well as the well integration of the Badaling Great Wall with the surrounding area had therefore guaranteed it status as the most attracted parts of the Ming Great Wall.

After the renovation done for the selected sections of the Great Wall in 1953, Badaling Great Wall is opened to public as a tourist destination. Renovation has been taken place throughout the years in order to allow more and more sections to be opened to the public. Nowadays, the sections of Badaling Great Wall which is opened for tourism purpose has reached 3,741 meters which consists of 1,176 meters at the southern part and 2,565 meters at the northern part.


2. Mutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu Great Wall is located at Huairou District which is about 73 kilometers away from Beijing city. It is one of the most famous spots for Great Wall Hike in Beijing. Mutianyu Great Wall is famous for its unique designs as well as its building structures which are different when compared with the rest of the Great Wall sections in Beijing. The number of great wall towers is slightly more when compared to the rest sections. Besides that, embrasures were built along the both sides of the wall. The embrasures refer to the structure of an outward splay of window with arrow slit from inside.

The tourist area of Mutianyu Great Wall is located at a beautiful landscape with panoramic views of mountains. The most attracting part is that the surrounding will provide you with totally different feelings and breathtaking scenery throughout the four seasons. The spring festival is the most suitable time for visit if you are floral lovers. Standing on the platform of the Mutianyu Great Wall and have a full glance of the flowers that free smiling faces over the mountain slopes will definitely drive you out from the tiredness and stress of a bustling city life in Beijing. Although the hotness of the summer in Beijing might frighten you from taking part in great wall hiking, the lush greenery as well as the flowing streams will keep on waving their hands and wishing for your visit.

On top of that, Mutianyu Great Wall can be considered as one of the best place for celebrating red leaves festivals during autumn besides the Xiang Shan (Fragrance Hill) which is located at the western part of Beijing city. If you have the confident that coldness in winter is not a problem for you, then you should challenge yourself by visiting Mutianyu Great Wall during winter season. The temperature at the Great Wall is normally approximately 5 degree Celsius lower than the temperature in the Beijing city. The lower temperature adding with the cold mountain winds might therefore ensure you further excitement of the Great Wall Hike.

Throughout the history, Mutianyu Great Wall has been awarded as the prettiest section of great wall. Mutianyu was previously a small mountain village which located at the Beixinying Village of Huairou District. The village is famous for its chain of mountains separated between each and other by mountain passes or valleys as well as the lush forests surrounding. Due to the unique topography which stands a very significant meaning for military purpose, the Great Wall was built from the south eastern towards the north western part of the entire village. Moreover, the unique natural environment had outcome with the Mutianyu Great Wall to be well interconnected with straight and curve walls with impressive three dimensional senses.

Due to the strategic location of the Mutianyu Great Wall, it had been one of the most important military stations throughout the dynasties. Mutianyu Great Wall is connected with Juyongguan Great Wall which located at Changping District on the west and Gubeikou Great Wall which situated at Miyun District on the east. These three passes of the Great Wall was well known as the “Wei Ling Xiong Guan” which means the greatest and the most dangerous passes that located along the mountain cliffs.

Mutianyu Great Wall which had been standing firmly along the cliff side had witnessed events and wars which occurred on this piece of land. It had contributed a lot in the defending system especially in ensuring the security of Beijing city from the attack from the minorities from the northern part of China. According to the historical records, Mutianyu Great Wall was existed ever since the reign of Beiqi (Northern Qi) within year 550 to 577 of Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 to 589).

The reconstruction of Mutianyu Great Wall was taken place in Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). According to the records, the Mutianyu Great Wall was reconstructed under the instruction of the first emperor of Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. Moreover, Emperor Zhu also sent his most trusted General Xu Da to rebuild the section of Mutianyu Great Wall based on the original wall dated to Beiqi. Later, the Mutianyu Pass was constructed in year 1404. After than, no construction project was taken place for this section of Great Wall until 1569 when one of the patriotic personnel Qi Jiguang who was responsible in defending the capital Beijing had make some renovations to the entire Ming Great Wall.

Thus, the Mutianyu Great Wall as we can see today was the best preserved section of the Ming Great Wall as a whole. The overall structure of Mutianyu Great Wall was built along the cliff side of the mountains in order to increase the effectiveness of the defending system. The height of the Great Wall is within 7 to 8 meters with the platform above about 4 to 5 meters width. The main construction materials were the granite stones which are famous with its hardness and solidity. Besides the unique embrasures, Mutianyu Great Wall was also designed with secret traps. The finest defending system which was applied at Mutianyu Great Wall can be considered as a proud of China civilization even until today.

Besides the huge man made creation of the Great Wall, Mutianyu is also surrounded by large area of forest with over 96% of greenery coverage. Such as huge plantation coverage is incomparable between any sections of the Great Wall throughout China. Moreover, the high intensity of the city towers along Mutianyu Great Wall also becomes one of the highlights of this section. Due to the natural topography of Mutianyu Great Wall, the need of city towers was much higher when compared to any other sections of the great wall. Thus, the distance between the towers was between 5 meters only.

Mutianyu Pass started at a lower point at only 486 meters above sea level. While expands within 500 meters to the east until Dajiao Lou (First tower of Mutianyu), the height has been increased for 177 meters. Then, the wall changed the direction and heading to the west. From the 4th Tower of Mutianyu until the 19th Tower of Mutianyu, the height of the mountains is not much difference. However, starting from the 20th Tower of Mutianyu until the highest peak within 10 towers distance, the height of the wall had increased for 533 meters from the original 486 meters at the starting point of Mutianyu Pass reaching 1039 meters above sea level. Thus, the dramatically changed of the height as well as the unique design of Mutianyu Great Wall with more towers had all ensured this section to provide the tourists with unbeatable spectacular view. If you wish to witness the grand view of the Great Wall, please kindly include Mutianyu Great Wall within your Beijing schedule.


3. Juyongguan Great Wall

Juyongguan Great Wall was one of the most famous ancient pass throughout the Great Wall sections in Beijing. It had been Juyonguan

Later, in Han Dynasty (202 BC to 220), the city tower of Juyongguan was already well developed when compared to the previous dynasties. The structure of Juyongguan was finally linked with the Great Wall during Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 to 589). Due to the strategic location of Juyongguan as well as its meaningful position in the military point of view, Juyongguan remained its status as one of the most important passes throughout the dynasties, including Tang Dynasty (618 to 907), Liao Dynasty (907 to 1125), Jin Dynasty (1115 to 1234) as well as Yuan Dynasty (1271 to 1368).

A large scale of renovation and rebuild projects for Juyonggguan Great Wall was taken place during Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of Ming Dynasty had sent his most trusted General Xu Da and Assistant General Chang Yuchun to redesign and rebuild the section of Juyongguan Pass in 1368. Within year 1450 and 1454, numerous reconstruction and renovations had been taken place in order to increase the efficiency of this military pass. Anyway, the basic design was still remained. Thus, the structure of the current available Juyongguan Great Wall as we can see today is basically similar to the design during Ming Dynasty.

The section of Juyongguan Great Wall stretched for over 4 kilometers in which facilitated with guard towers, beacon towers as well as necessary military structures and equipments. Moreover, there was government offices, temples and academies located around the Juyongguan Pass as well. However, Juyongguan Great Wall lost it originally responsibility as the most important pass to capital Beijing and was basically abandoned after the decline of Qing Dynasty (1616 to 1912). Anyway, the magnificent ancient pass as well as the surrounding building structures has on the other hand opened the door for modern China to discover more about the military study of ancient China. Renovation projects were taken place after the reformation of People’s Republic of China in order to recover the previous look of this huge and magnificent ancient pass.

Juyongguan Great Wall was built in the middle of steep mountain slopes. Moreover, there is an 18 kilometers long valley commonly known as Guangou (Guan Valley) in between as well. The high mountains, steep cliff sides, colorful flora and fauna as well as the deep valley have therefore creating a super natural surrounding around Juyongguan Great Wall. These beautiful landscapes had won it name of “Ju Yong Die Cui” which means the beauty of overlapping pinnacle at Juyong Pass and also listed as one of the top eight best scenery of Beijing (Yan Jing Ba Jing) ever since Jin Dynasty within year 1190 to 1195. 

A platform made from white marble was placed at the center part of Juyongguan. This platform which made within year 1342 and 1345 was named as Yuntai (Cloud Platform) or Guojie Ta (Crossing Street Tower). The marble platform is 9.5 meters high with the basement slightly larger than the area of the surface. There are many important building structures which were built on top of this platform such as the stone railings as well as the watching towers. All of these structures had reserved the traditional arts and designs of the ancient Chinese especially the features during Yuan Dynasty. An arched door was set in the middle of the platform purposely as the passing through for people, horses and carriages. Many animal images such as whale, elephant and dragons were carved in the arched gateway and the arched door. Moreover, statues of gods and scriptures in six different languages were carved on the walls of both sides of the door as well.

The Cloud Platform can be considered as one of the best stone carving arts ever since Yuan Dynasty. In fact, there were three white Lamma Towers originally stood in this platform which were destroyed after the decline of Yuan Dynasty. After that, a new temple named Taian Temple was built here as replacement to the previous Lamma Temple. However, the Ming Temple was demolished in a fire in year 1702 of Qing Dynasty. Even until today, there are still some leftovers of Taian Temple stored on top of the platform. The entire Juyongguan as we can see today was originally built in Ming Dynasty and had encountered several times of renovation and rebuilt projects. Juyongguan which is located at this strategic location in military point of view had played a very important role in the defense system of ancient Beijing city.


4. Simatai Great Wall

Simatai Great Wall is famous with and normally described with 5 Chinese characters which are steepness, compactness, queerness, wonderfulness and comprehensiveness. It is located right at the north eastern part of Beijing with distance around 120 kilometers away, within the area of Gubeikou Town, Miyun District. The total length of this section of Great Wall is about 5.4 kilometers which starts from Wangjing Lou (Watching Beijing Tower) from the east and ended at Houchuankou at the west. Simatai Great Wall was designed with 35 watch towers and the whole structure was enriched with sophisticated plan and designs.

The Simatai Great wall is famous with its exquisity of details and is grand as a whole. So it can be described as the most significant representatives of the ancient Great Wall throughout China. Simatai Great Wall was listed as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987 and at the same time selected as the one of the National Key Conservation Units. Furthermore, it is the only best reserved part of ancient Great Walls with the original features when it first built in Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644).

Simatai Great Wall was built within the reign of Hong Wu (1368 to 1398) in Ming Dynasty and later was improved its functionality by adding his own opinion and new creation in order to strengthen its effectiveness under the supervision of the famous general Qi Jiguang. According to the prestigious Great Wall expert Professor Luo Zhewen, the Chinese Great Walls are the best human creation all around the world, while Simatai Great Wall deserves the best of the best among all sections of Great Walls.

If you take a glance of Simatai Great Wall from the bottom, you might find that it seems to stand back to the sky and the clouds is just surrounding the wall. You are advisable to climb the Simatai Great Wall from the western part of the wall as this will surely leave you fantastic and unbeatable memories. When you climbing the first mountain through Simatai Great Wall, you might feel that as if by the time you reach the peak, you will be standing on top of the world. However, when you reach the first peak, you will then find out that there is another mountain located to the east of the first peak. You may choose to challenge the second peak but when you finally stand on top of the watch tower which located at the peak of the second mountain, you will find that there is another higher peak in front of you. While you looking down to find the peak that you have previously stepped on before, you will suddenly discover that all the watch towers on the first mountain are disappeared. What a wonderful design it is. When you reach the forth watch tower, your eye sight will become wider as you can see the serene village on the other side which looks so peaceful and tranquil.
The Simatai Great Wall is divided into western and eastern sections amazingly by Yuanyang Hu (Mandarin Duck Lake). The most unique feature of these two lakes is that the temperature of both these lakes is totally different in which the eastern lake is cold while the western lake is always showing temperature at 37 degree Celsius. In the section where these two springs meet, the water of the spring would be half cold and the other half warm. Even in the cold winter, this lake is still remained its peaceful waves with rising fog.

The highest point of Simatai Great Wall would be the Xiannv Lou (Fairy Tower) which can be reached only through the Tianti (Heaven Ladder).  Fairy Tower is beautifully decorated with white marble arches carved with lotuses which seem as if trying to tell everyone its wonderful tales. The Heaven Ladder with the height of reaching 100 meters at 85 degree gradient with cliffs along both sides. Since it is really a challenging task, for those who are able to pass this ladder will be awarded as Wall Heroes. The view from this highest peak would be totally different when compared to the view from lower part of the mountain. When you are standing here at the Fairy Tower, you might feel that as if you are on top of the world with the Earth beneath of your feet. The fantastic surrounding and precipitous topography which interleaving with the Great Wall, Heaven Ladder and Fairy Tower has all guaranteed you a wonderful and unforgettable Great Wall Hike. You will definitely agree that the tiredness and the strength that you spend in order to reach here is really worth it.

The western part of Simatai is properly linked with Jinshanling Great Wall. When looking from afar, the walls look like a golden dragon with majestic vigor which is winding on the mountain. Moreover, the watchtowers as well as beacon towers with different architecture and sizes were perfectly stood at the highest point of each mountain has therefore making the whole creation beyond expectation. Due to security reason, some of the attractions at Simatai Great Wall are not opened to public. Anyway, taking closer view of the structure and experience the feeling of standing on such an ancient human creation is still able to ensure you an unforgettable Beijing excursion.