Gubeikou Great Wall Tours – China, Beijing
Gubeikou Great Wall
About this place
Gubeikou has long been a town of military significance and an important pass to Beijing. The Yanshan Range winds from east to west and is cut off at Gubeikou, forming 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 served as a route of strategic importance, linking the southern and northern areas of the Yanshan Range. As early as 2,500 years ago, a fortification was built here and repeatedly reinforced throughout the following dynasties.
The main part of today's Gubeikou Wall was constructed under the supervision of Xu Da, a well-known general in the Ming Dynasty. This part of the Great Wall runs for more than 20 km and consists of four sections: Wohushan, Panlongshan, Jinshanling and Simatai. It has 143 beacon towers, each positioned at an average interval of 156 meters. The nearest two are only 30 meters apart. The inside of these towers varies in design. While some have a flat ceiling, others either have an arched ceiling and a domed ceiling, or an octagonal, painted ceiling. Each tower has two floors, six archways and ten arched doors, allowing garrisoned soldiers to advance and retreat freely. The towers are also different in size. The largest one can accommodate a garrison of 100 soldiers and the smallest one a garrison of 10 soldiers. The towers commonly have one to six portholes.
Gubeikou Great Wall was built along the precipitous mountain ranges, rising and falling at various sections. Simatai, built on a cliff, is extremely steep. A famous Great Wall specialist said: "The Great Wall is the best of Chinese architecture and Simatai is the best of the Great Wall."
There are plenty of legends about the Gubeikou Wall, especially the Simatai section, as well as historical relics. At night, from the Beijing Watchtower, 986 meters above sea level, one can see the lights shimmering in downtown Beijing. The west of this tower is the steeply situated Fairy Tower that looks like a slim fairy standing among shrubs and wild flowers.
Wohu Mountain: “Wohu” means “Crouching Tiger” in English, because the mountain looks like two tigers, one lying on its back while the other lies on its stomach. Located in the western section of the Gubeikou Great Wall, its highest peak measures about 665 meters (2,181 feet). A watch tower is erected every 150 meters (492 feet) of the wall, overlooking a deep valley or mounted on a strategically important hilltop. A professor from Peking University compares the wall to a huge cursive script work with the watch towers providing the pausing or transitional strokes. It retains its fascination today as its raw condition is still evident.
Panlong Mountain: West of Wohushan, it is located in the middle section of Gubeikou, where most of the historical wars took place. In ancient times, both warring parties placed emphasis on securing the Panlongshan Great Wall, because each knew that once the wall was captured, the Gubeikou Great Wall would be readily occupied. The whole wall measures about 13 kilometers (3.1 miles). Of its over 40 watch towers, the General Tower is the most famous. It is located at the commanding elevation of Panlongshan Mountain, from where wars were directed. There are four arrow windows on the north and south sides respectively, while each of the east and west sides has three arrow windows. This section is of unique construction: it is made up of earth, stone and brick walls. It is also preserved in its original state.
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