The Lofty Mountains, the Vast Plains—the Great Wall Culture

  • offcial website of Beijing Expo 2019 2016-06-06 09:58:50

The Great Wall is the symbol of the national spirit of china. It contains rich cultural, historical, architectural, art and military connotations, embodies wisdom of ancient Chinese people, and it is also a reference book of social science research. As a collective concept, the Great Wall is the historical evidence of the common integrative growth of the Chinese nation, and also a cultural wonder of the world that is completed by the joint contribution of the Chinese nation.

Yanqing County, at the junction of agricultural civilization in Central China and nomadic civilization in Northern China, occupies an important strategic position. It used to be vitally important in military strategists’ view from ancient times. In order to defend against alien invasion, the rulers decided to build the Great Wall here at any cost. As a miracle in human history and a precious historical and cultural relic, the Great Wall is a massive military defense project as the crystallization of the ancient Chinese people’s diligence and wisdom. There are rich ancient remains of the Great Wall within Yanqing County. Some scholars believe that all the sections of the Great Wall, built in dynasties of Yan, Qin, Han, Jin, Northern Qi, Northern Zhou, and Sui, ran past Yanqing County, that is, the route of Xibozi-Chadao, in Badaling Town, to the north of Badaling. After the establishment of Ming Dynasty, the ruler successively built nine towns of military importance, namely, Gansu, Ningxia, Xuanfu, Datong, Liaodong, Yansui (Yulin Town), Guyuan (Shaanxi Town), Ji and Shanxi, along the northern defense line, and divided the north frontier of Ming Dynasty into nine defense regions to defense the intrusion of the residual forces of Northern Yuan and other nomadic nations. They’re collectively called “Nine Sides”, or “Nine Towns”. “Side” here refers to Wall, the Great Wall. During the reign of Emperor Jiajing in Ming Dynasty, to strengthen the capital defense and protection of the Ming Tombs, the ruler added Chang Town in the northwest of Beijing and Zhenbao Town in the southwest Beijing, a total of 11 towns; thus, they are collectively called “Nine Sides Eleven Towns”. Yanqing County is just located in the convergence area of three towns: Xuan Town, Ji Town and Chang Town. Thus it occupies a very important military position. The inner Great Wall, edge wall of Nanshan Road and edge wall of Donglu Road were built within Yanqing County. Afterwards, a defense-in-depth system, consisting of the Great Wall, castle, beacon tower, town slope and other military installations, was built up.

Yanqing County is one of the counties that have the longest section of the Great Wall in Beijing. The 179.1-kilometer-long Ming Great Wall lies in there. In the southern, eastern and northeastern mountainous areas of Yanqing County, the Great Wall, just like a giant dragon, winds through high mountains and lofty ranges and sits above the frontier fortress with great momentum. Yanqing Great Wall can be regarded as a paradigm in Beijing as well as throughout China. It can be featured as: a military defense project boasting strategically important terrain of difficult access, a time-honored history and a wide distribution.

Badaling Great Wall

Badaling, the ancient “Juyong Pass North Exit”, is opposed to Changping South Exit of Beijing. From north exit to south exit, there is a canyon with a length of about 40 li, in which exists the famous mountain pass of the Great Wall—Juyong Pass; hence, the canyon got its name “Guangou” (Guan Valley). Badaling is just on the top of the 40-li northern part of Guangou. It is said that “overlooking Juyong Pass from Badaling is just like looking into a well from the top”. Therefore, the strategic locations of Juyong Pass are not at the forts but at Badaling according to ancient people.

Within 50 li radius from the south exit, rocks are everywhere on the hills, both sides of the valley stand cutting. The towering Badaling is winding along the Ridge of Jundu Mountains. Fort of Badaling, both risky and firm, can be well said as a pass that “one man can hold against ten thousand enemies”. The existing Badaling Great Wall and the Fort began to be built at the 17th year (1504) of the Hongzhi reign period of the Ming Dynasty, and were completed the next year (1505), which is over 500 years ago. Badaling Fort is the sub fort of Juyong Pass in Ji Town, which is a critical passage to the north Beijing. It is at the north exit of the main route; South Exit, Juyong Pass, and Shangguan used to be built there to the south.

The name Badaling first appeared in the long poems of LiuYing—the poet of Jin Dynasty: Arriving at the Foot of Badaling in the Evening, Reach the Peak at Dawn, and Beyond Badaling. But the origin of the name varies. Some said, Badaling is a Mongolian word that means “steep mountains”, due to its strategic position. Another point of view is that travelling to the south from Badaling, you can get to Changping and Beijing; to the north, you can get to Yanqing; to the northwest, you can get to Xuanhua and Zhangjiakou. “The routes separate from here and extend in all directions, hence named Badaling.” Thus, the construction of Badaling Great Wall is inseparable from its unique geographical location. It is not only the first barrier surrounding the capital, but also responsible for the guard of imperial tombs of the Ming Dynasty.

Badaling, the important pass in the Great Wall, has been a place contested by all strategists. It is magnificent, with all ready defense facilities. It’s the essence of the Great Wall of China and the leading representative of Great Wall of Ming Dynasty. There are 19-storey tower in the north section and 16-storey tower in the south section of Badaling. The northern 8-storey tower, 888.9 meters above sea level, is the highest Watch Tower of Badaling Great Wall, which is very impressive. Stepping onto it, and looking afar to the inside and outside of Badaling Great Wall, the magnificent panoramic view is very touching and reminiscent of the years of shining spears and armored horses there. In the event of a war, through crenels inside and outside the city walls, the warriors resisted the enemy on all sides. If the enemies broke through the fort gate and flushed into the city, they would be surrounded and annihilated by the warriors from all sides, just like getting into an urn. On the west lintel of the fort gate was signed “Lock and Key to the North Gate”. The “North Gate” refers to the Capital North Gate, the “Lock and Key” refers to the solid and strategic state of the Great Wall, like an unbreakable lock. Once the fort is held inside, the capital can be kept absolutely safe. It is said that when Li Zicheng entered Beijing, he didn’t break through the defense of Badaling Great Wall, but chose to go by a roundabout route through Liugou Village which is located in Yanqing County. The fastness of Badaling Great Wall is self-evident from this single war. On the east lintel of the fort gate was signed “Juyong Pass Outside Town”, which can be rated as the outpost of Juyong Pass.

Badaling witnessed many important events in Chinese history. After his east tour to Jieshi, Qin Shi Huang (the first Emperor of Qin) had ever taken the way to Badaling, and returned to Xianyang through Datong. Moreover, Empress Dowager Xiao’s imperial inspection tour, Genghis Khan’s conquest of Juyong Pass, Yuan Emperor’s two round trips per year from Dadu (Beijing) to Shangdu (in Mongolia area), Ming Emperors’ northern expedition, Qing Emperors’ personal expedition, and Empress Dowager Cixi’s westward fleet, etc., all passed by Badaling.

Today, due to natural and human factors, some parts of the Great Wall have been ruined. After the establishment of new China, the Great Wall has got renovation with state funds several times. In 1958, Badaling Great Wall was officially opened to visitors. In 1984, at Comrade Deng Xiaoping’s initiative “Love China, Repair the Great Wall”, the government successively renovated 19 watch towers and 3,741-meter walls, pushing the renovation of the Great Wall to a new climax. In 1987, as a treasure of the Chinese nation and the cultural heritage of all humanity, China’s Great Wall was inscribed on World Heritage List by UNESCO. Badaling Special Administrative Region, as representative of China’s Great Wall, accepted the certificate. In 2007, Badaling Great Wall was ranked first among the New Seven Wonders of the World.

“He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man.” With its unique historical and cultural charm, Badaling Great Wall attracts a large number of Chinese and foreign tourists. Since the founding of new China, nearly 500 heads of States and Governments, such as Nixon, Reagan, Thatcher, Gorbachev, Queen Elizabeth, Emperor Akihito, and Obama, and a number of world-noted people have visited Badaling Great Wall as an important state guest reception. This is the only one of this kind in the world famous scenic places of interests.

Water Pass (Shuiguan) Great Wall

Io the south of Stone Buddha Temple Village of Yanqing, in the rolling mountains, the Great Wall extends to both sides of the mountain peaks in the shape of “V”. It rolls over the steep mountains and precipitous cliffs like a dragon. It is Water Pass Great Wall. This section of Great Wall has a very unique structure. It was built at the mouth of the valley. During construction, there were rivers cutting through, so the water pass has been built to ease the flow of water and resist enemies; thus the water pass got the name “Water Pass Great Wall”. The watch tower here also works as a watergate. It starts from watch tower “Chuanzi No.1” in the east and arrives at Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway in the west, with a length of 6.8 kilometers. It is famous for its rarity, precipitousness, steepness and fastness. Qi Jiguang supervised its construction, which was more than 400 years ago.

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