Comments on the Great Wall by the World Heritage Committee
In 220 BC, under the rule of Emperor Qin Shihuang (259-210B.C.), sections of earlier fortifications were joined together to form a united defense system against invasions from the north. Construction continued up to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when the Great Wall became the world’s largest military structure. Its historic and strategic importance is matched only by its architectural significance.
The Great Wall stretches approximately 6,300 kilometers, from the bank of the Yalu River in Liaoning Province in the east to the Jiayuguan Pass in Gansu Province in the west. It was originally built during the Warring States Period (480-221 B.C.) and construction and renovation continued until the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Great Wall winds up and down across Hebei, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Gansu and other areas. It is the longest defense work in the world and assumed responsibility for protecting communications and commercial exchange over a long period of China’s history.
The meandering Great Wall, with its almost palpable sense of momentum, was mainly built of earth, stone and brick. Along its entire length there stand some 100 passes and tens of thousands of beacon towers, breaking its otherwise monotony, although it is the Wall itself that constitutes the main part of the defense works. It was built in the sheer mountains or dangerous and difficult roads in the plains area, based on the requirements of landform and defensive function. Communication between the army units along the Great Wall, including the ability to call reinforcements and warn garrisons of enemy movements, was of high importance, so signal towers were built upon hill tops or other high points along the wall for their visibility. Communication methods were to light fires for their smoke in the daytime and burn torches after dark. Each pass was an important fortified point where troops were stationed.
Fortifications and enclosed castles were further built at the most important passes and connected to the Great Wall, leading to the formation of pass cities. These became its most concentrated defensive strongpoints.Shanhaiguan Pass, Badaling, Mutian-yu, and Jiayuguan Pass are particularly important sections of the Great Wall. Of these, the Badaling section is the most representative part and was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is well-known for its military stronghold. The Simatai section is famous for its steepness, queerness and intactness. The Jiayuguan Pass is known as the “Greatest Pass Under Heaven” and is the best-preserved pass along the Great Wall. As the old saying goes, “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man.” The Great Wall has long been the symbol of the spiritual power of the Chinese nation.
Website of the Badaling section: www.badaling.gov.cn
Website of the Jiayuguan Pass section: www.jygcc.com.cn
Tourist Information Transport
To reach the Badaling section of the Great Wall tourists can take the Bus No. 919 from Deshengmen, the Tour Bus No. 1 from Qianmen, the Tour Bus No. 2 from the Beijing Railway Station, the Tour Bus No. 3 from Beitaipingzhuang, the Tour Bus No. 4 from the Beijing Zoo, or the Tour Bus No. 5 from the Beijing West Railway Station.
The Shanhaiguan Railway Station is a special grade railway station for all trains running through to stop. Tourists from Beijing or Shenyang can also drive along the Beijing-Shenyang Expressway to Shanhaiguan, and the Beidaihe-Qinhuangdao bus also stops at Shanhaiguan. Also tourists can take public bus Nos. 13,23,24,25,26 or 33 from downtown Qinhuangdao to Shanhaiguan City.
The double-track Lanzhou-Urumqi Railway and National Highway No. 312 both run through Jiayuguan City, offering great convenience for tourists wanting to visit Jiayuguan Pass.
The Badaling Restaurant inside the Badaling Scenic Area, high in grade, large in scale, and complete in facilities, is the best place to taste the delicately-flavored foods of Beijing. Near the Shanhaiguan Pass section you will find the Wangyanglou Restaurant and the Muslim Chafing Dish Restaurant. By the Jiayuguan Pass section there are more ethnic restaurants, offering food of different flavors such as the Roast Lamb, the shish kebab and all kinds of cooked wheaten food.
Badaling Section is open all year round.
Admission of Shanhaiguan Pass: 40 yuan Jiayuguan Pass is open all year round from 08:30 to 18:30.
Among the special local products to be found in Shanhaiguan, Pipixia shrimps, sea crab, hairtail, yellow croaker and other marine products are the most famous, while in Jiayuguan, the luminous cup, wind-rain carvings, Gobi stones and camel’s hair paintings, all make attractive and interesting souvenirs.