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Badaling Great Wall: Facts and History

Badaling Great wall Visitors
Our Tour Group at Badaling

Badaling Great Wall was once the major defensive wall along the rolling mountains that formed the northern frontier of the capital, Beijing. It is now the best-preserved and the most popular section among all.
 

 

Nearly 2,500 Years' History

The earliest ramparts and beacon towers around Badaling can be traced back to the Warring States Period (475 – 221 BC). After that, many dynasties contributed to the construction in different scale. The Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) was the last state that implemented the large-scale perfection of this section and founded the pass city in 1505. In 1568, General Qi Jiguang was appointed to supervise the reconstruction of the Great Wall and he devoted great efforts to this section and extended the length to 400 miles (643 kilometers) long when finished in 1582. After the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), the defensive function of Badaling faded. This once glorious military fortress began to dilapidate and most of it was in ruins.
 

 

Ancient Military Fortress Became a Hot Tourism Attraction

The protection of the Great Wall began in 1949 and the renovation work started soon after. In 1958, Badaling was opened to tourists after being partially renovated. Now 2.3 miles (3.74 kilometers) of the wall and 19 watchtowers have been restored and it has become one of the most popular attractions of Beijing, with tens of millions of visitors from both home and abroad every year, including nearly 400 world leaders.
 

 

Pass City- Entrance to the Great Wall

Covering an area of 5,980 square yards (5,000 square meters), this pass is trapezoid-shaped with the west side wider than the east. The battlements are 2,260 yards (2,067 meters) long and 25 feet (eight meters) high. Two gates were constructed at the east wall and west wall respectively. The plaque over the east gate was carved with four characters 'Ju Yong Wai Zhen' (Vital Pass Outside Juyongguan), while the west gate says 'Bei Men Suo Yue' (Military Stronghold on the Northern Frontier).

Along the horse track leading up to the wall, you can see five old iron cannons. They were one of the most advanced weapons in the Ming Dynasty. The largest one is three yards long with a range of over 1,100 yards (1,006 meters). Equipped with these powerful arms, Badaling was invincible in enemies' mind.

Badaling Great Wall

 

The Wall- Wide Enough for Ten Soldiers or Five Horses to Walk Abreast

Before you arrive at the scenic area, the winding wall of Badaling going along the rolling hills must attract your eyes at a distance. The height of the ramparts varies from 20 to 30 feet (six to nine meters) and the average width is seven yards (six meters), which is wide enough for ten people or five horses to walk abreast. In order to make it very solid and unbreakable, the bottom of the wall is wider than the top and the outer rampart is higher than the inner one. Most segments are wide and flat, however there are still a few parts holding a nearly vertical steepness, where you may need both hands and feet to climb up.
 

 

Watchtowers- Former Sentry Wards

The wall is divided into the northern branch and southern branch at the pass city. There are twelve watchtowers on the northern part and seven towers renovated along the southern segment. The distance between towers varies according to the terrain. Some are one-storey towers built for soldiers to stand guard while others have two floors with the upper one constructed with battlements and arrow holes and the lower storey used for soldiers to rest and also to store supplies.

The most distinctive watchtowers are as follows:
 No.5 North Tower has the most arches with over 30.
 No.6 North Tower covers the largest area - 120 square yards (100 square meters).
 No.8 North Tower is the highest tower with an altitude of 2,913 feet (888 meters) and provides the best view of the old defense line.
 No.4 South Tower is the highest tower along the southern branch, with an altitude of 2,363.5 feet (803.6 meters).
 

Beacon Tower

 

Beacon Towers- Old Alarming System

There are two beacon towers on the top of the mountains outside Badaling. They functioned as the alarm system and were equipped with fire spears and cannons. If enemies were sited, soldiers here would burn smoke during the daytime or light torches at night to warn garrisons at the Great Wall. The signal conveyed the number of enemies. One column of smoke and one gunshot indicated over 100 enemies, and two columns and two sounds meant there were over 500. If there were more than 1,000, they used three columns of smoke and three gunshots, while four columns and four sounds stood for over 5,000 and so on.

Besides, many modern facilities have been built at the foot of Badaling where you can learn more about this huge defensive line:

 

Great Wall Museum- Rich Collections of Great Wall Relics

Viewed from a distance, it looks like a beacon tower nearby the aged ramparts. Miniature passes, beacon towers, and watchtowers are made to decorate the interior of the museum. There are nine halls exhibiting an abundance of historical records, items, and pictures.

Admission Fee Free
Opening Hours Apr. 1 to Oct.31: 9:00 – 17:00 Closed on Monday
Nov.1 to Mar.31: 9:00 – 16:30

 

Circle Vision Theater- Comprehensively Displaying the Past and Present of Great Wall

This battlement-shaped theater shows a 17-minute circular screen documentary of the scenery of the Great Wall. You will see the famous sites in different seasons, hear stories about it, and learn about wars that happened here.

Admission Fee CNY 40
Opening Hours 9:00 – 16:30