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the Great Wall of China
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 sections include the Badaling, Juyongguan, Huanghuacheng, Mutianyu, Jiankou, Gubeikou, Jinshanling and Simatai.
If you want to experience the culture and enjoy the beauty of the Great Wall, meandering along the bricks of the Badaling 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 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 Jinshanling, 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. Come and explore your favorite one!
Badaling section of the Great Wall is within Yanqing County, one of the two counties in Beijing. The wall is about 80 kilometers northwest from downtown Beijing. Dadaling Grat Wall is actually a mountain pass of the Jundu Mountain. It is recorded that the Badaling Great Wall was built to protect the Juyongguan Pass ( Juyongguan section of the Great Wall ) on its south, further protecting the city of Beijing. Badaling is an ancient military defense project. It is about 1,000 meters above sea level.
The Badaling section of Great Wall is about 3, 740 meters long and averagely 8 meters high. The highest section is 15 meters high. The wall is wide enough for five horses to ride abreast. Badaling was the earliest part open to the visitors among all the sections of the Great Wall in Beijing.
The wall is narrow on the top and broad on the base making the wall stands firmly rising and falling ridges. The wall was made with huge stones. Inside the Wall are made of mud and stone block. This makes the wall clean, prettyl, and firm.
Every other 300 to 500 meters, there are fortresses. There are two kinds of fortresses. One is a two-storied fortress used as a fighting tower. Its ground floor was used for living, storing weapons and the top floor was used for watching and shooting. Another kind is fighting terrace or enemy terrace, which was used for patrolling and fighting.
Just close to Badaling, there are is a big Great Wall Museum and the Great Wall National Theater. The theater offers you a chance to get a full view of the Great Wall. In 1987, Badaling was listed as World Cultural heritage' by the United Nation.
Juyongguan Pass is situated in a valley named "Guangou" as long 20 kilometes, which is within Changping District over 50 kilometers north from downtown Beijing. It is one of the three most famous passes of Great Wall in China. The other two passes are Shanhai Pass and Jiayuguan Pass.
Juyongguan used to be an ancient military town full of military installations, watch towers, official residences, temples, and other structures. Juyongguan Pass was first built in the Ming Dynasty and received much repair later. It was a very important strategic area linking the inner land and the area close to the northern border of China. The Juyongguan Pass has been well known for its strategic importance for over 2,000 years.
Huanghuacheng (literally meaning "Yellow Flower City") Great Wall, about 60 km north of downtown Beijing, is one of the most ruined sections of the wall in Beijing. It has become popular with hikers in recent years. This section of the great wall is about 1000 meters long and connecting Juyongguan Pass Great Wall and Badaling Great Wall in the west and Jiankou Great Wall and Mutianuyu Great Wall in the east. Now it is a quite challenge to climb the wall since it has no stone steps or no smooth path found at other sections of Great Wall in Beijing.
Huanghuacheng was an area littered with many villages in Yuan Dynasty. Later in Ming Dynasty it turned into a rich and prosperous area due to the construction of the Great Wall at Huanghuacheng as strategically important Benzhenguan Pass.
There is a story behind the building of Huanghuacheng Great Wall. Its construction began in 1575, during the Ming Dynasty and General Cai Kai was in charge of the entire works. It was said that it took many years to finish the the construction. When General Cai Kai went to the capital and reported to the emperor his successful task, he was put to death at once! Some jealous ministers had told Emperor Wanli at that time that the General Cai Kai had spent too much money and the construction of the wall was poor. The emperor was so unhappy with these false reports, he ordered Cai’s immediate execution. Later the emperor sent a trusted aid to check Cai's Wall. The aid went back and reported to the the emperor that Huanghuaheng Great Wall was solid with the finest workmanship. Sorry for his hasty in putting the death to Cai, Wanli sent people to build a tomb and memorial stele in memory of the loyal general.
The Emperor Wanli also wrote the two characters “Jin Tang”, meaning "solid and firm", carved on the face of a huge rock below the wall, showing the wall was firm and solid. So the wall is sometimes called Jintang Great Wall.
There is a lake and a reservoir near the wall. The reservoir is called Huanghuacheng Reservoir. The lake is called Jintang lake. The water of the lake is cold and clear for all year round due to the numerous springs. Parts of Huanghuacheng Great Wall were damaged and fell into Jintang Lake after being bombed during the Anti-Japanese war China a century ago. The whole section of wall has 6 forts, 6 passes, 12 beacon-towers, and 32 guard towers. Of all the forts, Yaoziyu Fort is the best preserved.
Jiankou Great Wall is located in Huairou District, 10 km from Mutianyu Great Wall in the east, about 80 KM from downtown Beijing. Huanghuacheng Great Wall is situated to the west of Jiankou. This section was first constructed in 1368 during the period of the Ming Dynasty.
Jiankou Great Wall is the most dangerous and ruined section of the great wall around Beijing. There are four must-to-see attractions along the section of Jiankou Great Wall.
Very Important Notice:
The Mutianyu section of Great Wall is located in Huairou district, about 80 km north from downtown Beijing. The Mutianyu Great Wall is less crowded than Badaling Great Wall.
There are three ways to head up and down beside hiking on foot. The first is to go up by the cable car, the second is to use a slideaway (toboggan) and the third is to take a chair lift.
A lot of vendors will greet you on your way down. Look at their products from afar first before you get closer to them. Once you go into a shop you'll have a hard time getting away from the vendor so make sure you like what you see before you start haggling.
Mutianyu Great Wall was first built in Northern Qi (550-577). In Ming Dynasty, General Xu Da constructed the Great Wall on its former base. The Mutianyu Pass was built in 1404. The fortifications and the Great Wall here are featured by many watchtowers on overlapping mountain ranges. The wall, built with slabs of stone, is crenellated on both sides with bricks. The wall provides better protection and ward off attacks with Juyongguan in the west and Gubeikou in the east.
Mutianyu Great Wall works as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. It is a green section of the great wall in Beijing with vegetation, green pines and cypresses covering 90 per cent of the section.
Gubeikou Great Wall is located in Miyun County, 140 kilometers away from downtown Beijing. The main part of the Gubeikou Wall was first built in the Ming Dynasty 1368. It goes for over 20 kilometers and comprises of the four parts: Wohushan, Panlongshan, Jinshanling and Simatai. Gubeikou was a strategic pass of the Great Wall in ancient times, and Panlong Mountain and Wohu Mountain are connected by it, with the Chao River flowing across Gubeikou Great Wall, offfering an important access to Inner Mongolia and northeast of China. This section is the most intact and well preserved, original section of all the sections in Beijing.
This section has 143 beacon towers. The inside of these towers is different in design. Some towers have a flat ceiling. Some have an arched ceiling, a domed ceiling, or an octagonal. Each tower consists of two floors, six archways, and ten arched doors, allowing garrisoned soldiers to advance and retreat freely.
Gubeikou has long been a town of military importance and a vital passage to the capital city. The Yanshan Range goes from east to west and is divided at Gubeikou, constituting a natural narrow pass here. To the west of the pass are the Chaohe River and the Wohu Mountain, and to the east is the Panlong Mountain. From ancient times, Gubeikou has worked as a road of strategic importance, connecting the southern and northern parts of the Yanshan Range.
Jinshanling Great Wall is located about 130 km from downtown Beijing. To its east stands the Simatai Great Wall. Jinshangling Great Wall was named after the mountain called Jinshan Mountains. The Jinshanling Great Wall was first constructed built in the Ming Dynasty. The famous general, Xu Da, of the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) supervised and directed the construction of the Great Wall. Later, Qi Jiguang led a number of defense works while guarding the north area in 1567.
This section has the total length of 11 kilometers. The Wall is about seven to eight meters in height and five to six meters width. The wall is made of brick and stone. The Jinshanling Great Wall is 700 meters above the sea level. It is said that standing at the tower ,one can catch sight of Beijing's lights at autumn nights and the scene seems that there is a shimmering starriver far away.
As an outstanding section of the great wall, the jinshanling section of the wall lies on the border region between miyun County of Beijing and Luanping County of Chengde, it is 11km long, the jinshanling wall was built in Ming Dynasty, with bricks placed in layers after layers, the bricks were put upon large rectangular stones used as basements. on the top of the wall is a path which is wide enough for six or seven people in a row to walk along. Crenels(垛口）are used as peepholes（瞭望台）， below the crenels are merlons with empbrasures which are used to fire at the enemy. the jinshanling wall is characterized by the presence of two kinds of wall, one is used for fighting and the other is a barrier wall(战墙和障墙）， that is used to shield off shooting from the enemy and to prevent them from approaching. On the jinshanling Wall there are 67 watchtowers(敌楼), they are all built at very important places, in shape they are different from each other, but all of them are two-storeyed buildings, the first floor can house 60-70 soilders and the second provides them with a wide field of vision. The Wangjinglou Watchtower is built on one of the Jinshanling hills, 980 meters above sea level. It is said that standing at the tower ,one can catch sight of Beijing's lights at autumn nights and the scene seems that there is a shimmering starriver far away. like a great dragon holding up its head and swaying its tail, the Jinshanling Wall is loftily meandering among the hills, ridges and mountains forever.
There are relatively less crowded here at Jinshanling Great Wall, it is a nice place to explore the Great Wall in Beijing. The Jinshanling Great Wall has become a famous scenic spot attracting numerous tourists from both home and abroad.
The Simatai section of the Great Wall is located in the northeast of Miyun County,120 kilometers from downtown Beijing. It was first built in the early Hongwu years (1368-1398) of the Ming Dynasty. The Simatai Great Wall is cutted into two parts by the Simatai Reservoir, over which ther is a chain bridge running through east to west. The Simatai Great Wall is 5 km long with all together 35 watchtowers. Constructed by the Ming Dynasty general Qi Ji Guang, it is one of the few stretches of the Wall that still preserve the original look of that period. It not only feaures unique points from other Great Wall sections, but also shows some features found nowhere. To the west there 20 watchtowers snaking on the sloping hills. To the east there are 15 watchtowers atop peaks up to 1,000 meters high. The views are amazing. The wall at Simatai has received very little renovation. So Simatai Great Wall still retains all its original look. It is well beyond the reach of the great crowds of visitors that come to the more popular and easily accessible parts of the Wall.
The Simatai Great Wall, with densely-positioned watchtowers running along the mountain ridges, looks amazing and grandeur! On the mountainsns with mild slopes in the west, twenty watchtowers are well preserved.
The watchtowers on the Simatai Great Wall show a elegant design and different structures, among which the most famous are the Wangjinglou (Watching Beijing Tower), where you can have a birds' esy view of the lights of Beijing at night in the distance.
Simatai Great Wall is a fantastic site for sightseeing, hiking and exploration. It has been listed by the UNESCO as one of the World Cultural Heritages.