Zhenbeitai Great Wall

Zhenbeitai Tower of Great Wall
Zhenbeitai Tower in Yulin, Shaanxi


The Great Wall of China is often compared to a giant dragon, with the head at Laolongtou and the end at Jiayuguan Pass. You may ask, "Where is the heart of the dragon?" The heart lies at Zhenbeitai Great Wall on the top of Hongshan Mountain in Yulin, Shaanxi Province. It is the largest watchtower along the Great Wall. Owing to its strategic location and military significance, Zhenbeitai is known as the "First Tower of the Great Wall."

Zhenbeitai Tower

This was first constructed in 1607 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), with a history of more than 400 years. Originally, it functioned as an observation site for maintaining order in nearby Hongshan Market where the Han and Mongolian people conducted business transactions.

The tower is made of rammed earth, and enclosed with blue bricks. It is about 100 feet (30 meters) high, and consists of four levels. There are parapets, crenels and shooting holes on each level. Seen from above, the tower is ladder-shaped, covering a total area of 1.2 acres (0.5 hectares). You can get from one level to the next, by using the stone steps.

 The First Level is about 35 feet (10.7 meters) high. The northern and southern sides are 90 yards (82 meters) and 83 yards (76 meters) long respectively. The other two sides are 70 yards (64 meters) long. The southern wall is connected with the Great Wall. To the south end of the eastern wall is the gate, through which you can ascend the tower. On the First Level, you can find the Great Wall Museum at the northeast corner. It was built in 2010 on the site of ancient barracks, where soldiers on guard lived and worked long ago.

 The Second Level is 54 feet (16.6 meters) high and 142 yards (130 meters) in girth. You will find an arched door in the middle part of the southern wall. There is a stone plaque over the door, bearing the inscriptions of "Xiang Ming," which means "Facing the Brightness" in English. Going through the door, you will reach the Third Level.

 The Third Level is 13 feet (4.1 meters) high, and has a girth of 96 yards (88 meters).

 The Fourth Level is 14 feet (4.4 meters) high, with a girth of 39 yards (35.4 meters). This level covers an area of 305 square yards (255 square meters). In the past, there was a sentry post made of bricks and wood on it. As time passed, the post has long since gone. Standing on the Fourth Level, you will have a bird's-eye view of the nearby attractions. To the north lies the dilapidated Great Wall and the boundless desert, presenting a lonely and desolate scene. To the south are exuberant forests, presenting a scene vibrant with life.

Map of Zhenbeitai
Map of Zhenbeitai

Kuangong City

Zhenbeitai Great Wall, Yulin, Shaanxi
Zhenbeitai, Yulin, Shaanxi

To the east of the Zhenbeitai Tower lies the Kuangong City. "Kuan" literally means "entertainment," while "Gong" means "tributes" in English. It is where officials of the Ming Dynasty entertained Mongolian messengers, received their tributes, and discussed foreign affairs with them. When the Mongolian feudal lords led a harmonious relationship with the royal court of the Ming Dynasty, they often sent messengers and paid tributes to the emperors, such as livestock and other local products. At the same time, the emperors would give something in return, like silk, cloth, and medicine. Kuangong City was a prosperous official market in the past. But, you can only see some relics today.

Horse Trading City (Yima City)

Apart from the Kuangong City, you can see the relics of the Horse Trading City (Yima City) to the southwest of Zhenbeitai, where ordinary Mongolian and Han people traded for livestock, cloth, silk, tea, salt, etc.

Admission Fee CNY 30
Opening Hours 07:30- 19:30

How to Get to Zhenbeitai Great Wall from Yulin

It is about 4 miles (7 kilometers) to the north of downtown Yulin. You can easily get there by bus or taxi.
 By Bus:
Take bus line 3 or 11 to the site directly.

 By Taxi:
Take a taxi to the attraction for about CNY 15.

Recommended Nearby Attractions

After touring around, you can go to see the Red Stone Gorge, only 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) away. It has the largest cliff carvings complex in Shaanxi Province. You will be fascinated by the exquisite pictures and Chinese characters engraved on the cliffs.

- Last updated on Aug. 02, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Zhenbeitai
Asked by RGrant from USA | Sep. 07, 2015 20:10Reply
Tourist bus in Yulin?
You mention a "tourist bus" in Yulin. Is there any information anywhere online about this bus? Where does it go, what does it cost, how often does it run, etc?

Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by Rick from INDONESIA | Sep. 08, 2015 04:34

Rgrant, I am afraid that the information is outdated. You'd better take a taxi or take bus no. 3 or 11 from Guangji Mansion to there.
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