First Pass Under Heaven
Speaking of Shanhaiguan Great Wall, the first image that crosses your mind must be its east gate, the First Pass under Heaven, also called Zhendong Tower. In the past, the area west of this gate was within the jurisdiction of central China, while the area to the east was beyond the control of the then Chinese government. As the boundary landmark, this vital tower was given the title - the First Pass under Heaven. A large plaque, inscribed with characters 'Tian Xia Di Yi Guan' (The First Pass under Heaven in English), was hung under its eave to show its important strategic position.
Zhendong Tower was built in 1381 and renovated several times afterwards. The whole construction is made up of a 39 feet (11.75 meters) high rectangular platform and a gate tower with a height of 45 feet (13.7 meters). There used to be an arch gate under the platform for entering and exiting. The two-storey gate tower was made of bricks and wood. Four cornices are pointing to the sky with vivid beats' sculptures in different postures. The plaque of 'Tian Xia Di Yi Guan' under the eave is striking to the eye from a distance. There are 68 small arrow windows on the tower to observe enemies' situation and defense against those approaching from the north, east and south in the war.
With an advantaged height, Zhendong Tower is proved to be the best point to view the scenery around Shanhaiguan Great Wall and take photos, especially its second floor.
The Tablet of First Pass under Heaven
The most extraordinary feature of the gate tower is the inscribed board with the five characters – 'Tian Xia Di Yi Guan', which is hung under its eave. It is over 6.5 yards (5.9 meters) long and 5 feet (1.55 meters) wide. However, this one placed in that prominent position is not the original work. The characters on it were inscribed in 1920 by imitating the original plaque written by Xiao Xi'an, a famous scholar and official in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Besides the one hanging outside the tower, there are still two plaques inside: the original one made in 1472 is well preserved on the first floor while another one inscribed in 1879 is displayed on the second floor.
How to get to the First Pass under Heaven from Downtown Beijing
Take a high speed train in Beijing Railway Station or Beijing South Railway Station to Shanhaiguan Railway Station. A one-way trip would take two-three hours.
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Upon arrival, walk north along Zhanqian Road for about 360 yards to South Guancheng Road, turn right and walk for about 400 yards to Diyiguan Road, turn left and walk straight for about 300 yards to the scenic area. The total walking distance is about 1,100 yards and it takes about 10-15 minutes.
How to get there from Qinhuangdao City
Take bus 25 or 33, and get off at the First Pass under Heaven (Tian Xia Di Yi Guan) Station.
If starting not far from Qinhuangdao Railway Station, you can take a train to Shanhaiguan Railway Station, and follow the above route to the tower.
|Admission Fee||May to October: CNY 40|
|November to Next April: CNY 15|
|Opening Hours||May to October: 7:00 – 18:00|
|November to Next April: 7:30 – 17:00|