The Most Eastern Pass is not the Shanhai Pass but one that lies Far more to the East. Perched upon the Hill Top of Hu Shan - Tiger Mountain stands the Tiger Mountain Great Wall of China, at this Time the first accessible point of the Great Wall of China to go and visit. More of the Wall lies East of Dandong but lies inside the restricted zone that is the Nation of North Korea.
This page was last updated on: February 6, 2017
Visitable Great Wall of China locations :
The First Great Wall sections to be constructed in Chinese History were allegedly built on orders of China's acclaimed First Emperor Ch'In Shi Huangdi or Prince Ying Zheng of Qin. This is not entirely true: the first written recordings of the construction of the Great Wall date from the year 656 BC, many Centuries before the reign of Q'In. In fact, even in the War Ying Zheng fought to unite all Warring States into one Nation, it was a common strategy to build walls in strategic area's, to keep out attackers as well as delineate the State Borders. In this sense, the Emperor of Q'In was not the First one to construct Walls. His Walls however would be much formidable than earlier ones. Although they were of rammed earth and reinforced with wood, the scale of construction was much larger and rigidly organized by the Brutally Efficient State Apparatus. As it is held, the Great Emperor built upon the foundations of Walls and Fortresses erected by his earlier adversaries, and made them into one continuous line of Defense.
The China Report
Great Wall of China - Photo Tour of Visitable Locations
Yanguan - Sun Gate Pass -->
YuMen Guan - Jade Gate Pass
Zhangjiakou (Kalgan) Pass
Yang Guan Pass(es)
JiYunGuan Pass (Badaling)
A map of a Section of the Northern Half of Beijing Municipality with locations of the Great Wall of China near Beijing
The Turn about came when in 215 BC, the Qin Armies finally managed to drive the Xiongnu Nomadic Armies out of the Ordos Desert and the Yellow River bend, places that are currently part of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Shaanxi Province and the home of various accessible Great Wall locations. With the Yellow River Valley as a fertile Base for agriculture
China Report - Map of the Ancient Silk Road during the Han Dynasty & Roman Age 1
A Schematic Map depicting other details along the Full Length and main pathways of the Ancient Silk Road during the Han Dynasty Period (206 BC - 221 AD).
As seen from China the Silk Road extends due Westward from Chang'An (Xian) the Han & (later) Tang Dynasty Capital. The Yellow River is crossed at Lanzhou, after which Dunhuang is the Last Station. This Map depicts the Lost Civilizations of Loulan and Hotan, as well as the south route and north route of the Silk Road coming together at Dunhuang in current day Gansu Province of China.
Below is an incomplete listing of Great Wall of China locations open to the General Public as historical and cultural treasure and Tourist Attraction.
Dating from the Han Dynasty Era, the Jade Gate - Yu Men has been part of Dunhuang and it's History for 2000 years. Head far out into the Taklamakan Desert, a 102 Kilometers to the North-West, to visit the Jade Gate Toll-House at the Cang River. The Jade Gate marks the beginning of the North Route of the Silk Road around the Taklamakan Desert leading through Turpan Oasis eventually to end up at Kashgar and is considered to be the First Gate Under Heaven in the West on the Great Wall of China.
Sun Gate - Yang Guan Pass
The Beacon and Fortress of YangGuan, the Sun Gate are the counterparts of the Jade Gate (YuMen). Both together marked the "Mouth of China" , the western end of the Hexi Corridor, a strategic mountain route leading directly east and down into the fertile Chinese Heartlands. During the Han Dynasty the Great Wall of China extended as far West as these two points which are located due West of Dunhuang looking out on the Sands and Barren Lands of the Taklamakan Desert. Beyond Sun Gate lay the Silk Road South Route, for which the Fortress provided protection and the Beacon was a guiding point.
Great Wall at Badaling in Winter
A foggy but quite unique introduction to The Great Wall of China at its point nearest Beijing, JuYongGuan Pass. The world cultural heritage site of Badaling is the place President Nixon visited on his historic visit and the most popular Great Wall tourist destination of Beijing City after the Palace Museum or Forbidden City. Built in a mountainpass giving access to the North China plain the Badaling Great Wall section was the location that saw the Invasion of the Mongols that would lead to the Fall of the Capital Beijing and enter China into a hated Era of Foreign Rule. Badaling Section gives the visitor a fairly good example of what the Great Wall was built for and how challenging its defensive works were.
Great Wall at Mutianyu
Great Wall at Simatai Tour
The finest and most spectacular Great Wall of China location in Hebei Province near Beijing is the one nearby Gubeikou Town near the MiYun Reservoir. This location, which connects through to JinShanLing Great Wall to the West, is also the farthest site from Beijing, at a distance of some 120 kilometers due North-East of the Big City. Simatai Great Wall Section has 35 watchtowers in various states of disrepair, the most interesting of which are dotted along a huge and steep granite cliff, making for Great Views and a tough hike.
Just 60 kilometers from the Center of Beijing stands the Ming Dynasty Era section of the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu. This now restored section of Wall is the connecting piece, sitting on mountain tops between the JuYongGuan pass and Fortress (Badaling) in the West and the next Sections to the East, JinshanLing and then Simatai. Part of the Ming Dynasty enhanced defenses of Beijing, Mutianyu Pass was established as late as in the Year 1404 AD , was improved in 1568 AD and is well-preserved.
In the East near Beijing, the Great Wall of China can be visited at multiple locations. The Main Site is the one closest to the City at Badaling. Badaling is currently reachable by subway, train, bus and ofcourse Cab and so is often crowded out. The more distant locations, of which MutianYu and Simatai are the other popular locations which are reachable by organised tourbus, or your own transport. There are even more Great Wall of China locations visitable near Beijing. JinshanLing Section connects to Simatai and in the Future more on the Great Wall of China at Yellow Cliff Pass, located roughly halfway between TianJin and Beijing.
Of the Locations near Beijing, the Badaling Section and nearby Fortress JuYong Guan are of the most historic importance. It was at Badaling in the year 1225 AD, that the Mongols managed to break through the Defenses of the Great Wall, capturing the nearby Capital City of the Jin Dynasty and ending resistance in North China. Within a few years they went on to conquer the entire Chinese Empire Ruling it as hated Foreign Invaders for over a 100 years.
In the West near Dunhuang, the Great Wall of China terminates in the remnants of the Han Dynasty established Great Wall in these far western regions. In the Past, the Han Dynasty and Tang Dynasty Great Wall extended as far West as Lop Nur. Currently a part of Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region and located well within the Territory of the Taklamakan Desert, Lop Nur is now a dried out Salt Lake, but in history its Western Most Point near the outflow of the Tarim River was the location of a fortified city which was abundant in fish from the lake and rich in agricultural produce. Today the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty terminates at JiaYuGuan but tracks further from there through Fire Beacons and Watchtowers to a location West of Dunhuang in Gansu Province. Here the Great Wall ran from North to South across the valley floor, blocking entrance to China's strategic Hexi Corridor from invasion by Warring Tribes. In the North lies the Jade Gate, in the South the Sun Gate and its Garrison Fortress.
Han Dynasty Great Wall in Desert
After the Jade Gate, the last bits of the Great Wall of China continue westward in the shape of the Han- and Tang Dynasty Era Great Wall of China. This structure, built from Clay and Reeds connects west out of the Jade Gate into the Taklamakan Desert to pass through to Lop Nor, some 200+ Kilometers onward in the Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region of China. Under duress from shifting sands and high desert winds this length of Great Wall is expected to have eroded away some 20 years from now.
Shi Guan - Extended Arm Great Wall
Praised in poetry, the Extended Arm Great Wall of China - Shi Guan, is a small, short but nevertheless spectacular section located due North of JiaYuGuan and the Fortress of JiaYuGuan Pass in Gansu Province. Sealing off a small side-entrance to the central valley of the Hexi Corridor, the extended arm matches the badaling sections with drops of over 40% inclination. It is a steep hike at reasonably high altitude which awards an overview of the entire valley and industrial town of JiaYuGuan with the white snowcaps of Qilian Shan behind.
Directly South of JiaYuGuan lies Qilian Shan Mountain Range, in the North the HeiShan or Black Mountain Range. In the Middle, due 5 miles due West of the Town stands the Gargantuan Ming Dynasty Era Fortress, the Center of the Citadel known as the "End Lock in Connection". Apart from the Fortress of the Western-most Garrison there are two minor Great Wall locations to be visited, the TaoLai River Gorge and the Extended Arm or Overhanging Great Wall of China. Both were parts of the Defensive Citadel.
JiaYuGuan - No.1 Beacon Tower
The steep TaoLai River Gorge is fed by melting waters from the Qilian Shan and provides an impressive natural barrier that became part of the fortifications of the JiaYuGuan Pass Great Wall of China. Looking down into the Gorge, the Number 1 Beacon Tower of the Ming Dynasty Era guards the southernmost point of the defenses at JiaYuGuan. Together with the Fortress and the Suspended Arm Great Wall it is one of the major tourist attractions of the small and polluted industrial town in the Desert.
JiaYuGuan Ming Dynasty Fortress
The stop plug inside the Mouth of China and last bastion in protection of the Silk Road. First Constructed around the year 1372 AD, the large and complex Fortress of JiaYuGuan marks the Final End of the Great Wall of China defenses of the Ming Dynasty Era, a time during which the Mongols were a constant threat, reinvigorated already after having been driven out by the Brutal Ming. Constructed in the Middle of the narrowest point of the Hexi Corridor, the Fortress sits at the Center of a web of Defenses built across this vital Pass on the Route into Central China.
Great Wall at Tiger Mountain
Great Wall - Old Dragon's Head
people and armies, the Great Wall was based on the Natural Barrier of the Yellow River and its resources. As recorded in the Shin Ji (Annals of the Grand Historian), a Great Wall was built across the Borders in this Area, along Mount Yang and even as far East as the Liaodong Peninsula (Liaoning Province) (the exact location and path of these sections are under research by China Report Staff). Following the contours and using the features of the Terrain, according to the Shin Ji the wall extended 10.000 Li, which comes down to some 5000 kilometers. This is an exaggeration. At any Rate, the Q'In Emperor established an iconic architectural wonder and a tradition that would be followed by many later Dynasties in several periods and Era's. As today's Wall roughly extends the same length and path as described in the Shin Ji (Annals of the Grand Historian) and ends in Liaoning Province, usually, Emperor Q'In is taken as the Grandfather Wall Builder.
Whichever way it was, the 1st wall sections recognizable today date from the Q'In Dynasty (221 B.C. - 207 B.C.). Only Nine such sections are identified. The First other remnants date from the Tang Dynasty and its successor Song Dynasty. Most of the Great Wall of China sections in this list Date from the Ming Dynasty Era or are restored from ruins of the Ming Era Wall. The Complete Tour of The Great Wall of China starts in the East near the North Korean Border and the Yalu River.
Zhongwei is the a small Town on the North-Western corner of the XingTongXia Water Reservoir of the Yellow River in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Located roughly where the Yellow River meets the Lake and the Tengger Desert turning the arid land green, stands the Zhongwei Great Wall of China. Or what remains of it. Only scattered remnants can be found today, at quite a rough drive and distance out of Zhongwei. Get there before its Gone !
The Great Wall of China passes through the Ordos Desert to wind North of Yinchuan, Capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to lead to the Gunzhongk'ou or Helan Pass. The Gunzhongkou is an ancient highway and a 3356 Meter high mountain road into Inner Mongolia. In early Chinese History the region, unlocked by the Helan Pas was hotly contested and control over it fell out of Chinese hands several times, only to be regained. The Wall was last refortified during the Ming Dynasty Era.
In North-Western Shanxi Province, the third Gate under jurisdiction of the Main Zhen (Garrison) in North-Shanxi was Pian Guan itself. Constructed in 1390 AD and based upon earlier defenses of the Yuan Dynasty Era, a fortress, three strong Gates and over 200 watchtowers and beacons protected this Pass wedged between Inner Mongolia AR in the North, the Provinces in the South and the Old Ox (Lao Niu) River Bend of the Yellow River to the West. Weibilingxiao tower 1 km west of Pian Guan offers what is regarded the most spectacular view of the Great Wall anywhere in China.
Located 15 Km North of Dandong in Liaoning Province, on a Hillside overlooking the Yalu River and the Border with North Korea the Tiger Mountain and its Great Wall of China are Part of the outer-most defensive layer of the Eastern stretches of the Great Wall. Although the Great Wall of China extends even further Eastward into North Korea, for all practicalities at the moment, the Tiger Mountain Great Wall is the Eastern-most section of the Great Wall visitable by the Public.
Just North-West immediatly outside of the town of Qinghuangdao in Hebei Province lies the First Pass under Heaven in The East, also known as Shanhai Guan or Pass. It is the ultimate East Terminus of the Great Wall ring of protection around Beijing. The Shanhai/ Qinhuangdao Great Wall knows two sections, the Old Dragons Head where the Great Wall meets the Sea, and the actual Gate of the Pass and its garrison fortress at Shanhai Guan/ Qinhuangdao. The Dragon Head Great Wall at the Bohai Sea comes first.
Dilapidated in the 1980's, the Shanhai Pass Fortress has been restored and is now a tourist magnet of the region. Famed as the Gate of the Great Wall where the Manchu Ching Dynasty entered China in 1644 AD to rule for 455 Years, Shanhai Guan, East Gate or Dong Men, was a Square Fortress with 4 gates in the directions of the Compass. Apart from the Garrison Fortress there are three nearby sections of actual Great Wall to be hiked. More Wall lies to the North-East on the Liaoning Province Border, and more to the North an outer layer extends to Dandong and Korea.
Great Wall Ningxia/Shaanxi Dingbian
Around Anbian, Zhuanjing and Dingbian Towns in Shaanxi Province and Yanchi in Ningxia Hui AR there used to be a long section of the Great Wall of China standing in Guard against invasion from the Mongolian Gobi Desert to the North and beyond. In 2003 it was severely damaged by the construction of a road through the sections of Great Wall. How long still can it survive guarding the lush green lands of Shaanxi Province to the South-East and the vulnerable Yellow River Valley and Lanzhou to the South-West ?
Shaanxi - Yulin Town & Fortress
In Far Northern Shaanxi along the edge of the Ordos Desert lie the ruins of the ancient Garrison Fortress and fortified trading town of Yulin on the Great Wall. Among the jewels of the Fortress is the Zhen Bei Tai (Pacify the North) Tower which boast the largest platform on the Great Wall with aview of the Mu Us Desert. Nearby are a Beacon Tower and surrounding the town great wall ruins date from no less than six historic periods including the Ch'In Era, that gave birth to the first unified State of China. much promoted by the Chinese Government.
China Report - Map of the Gobi Desert & Yellow River Flow
A Satellite Image Map of the Entire Gobi Desert Region. Map overviews North-West Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Mongolia, Inner Mongolia and North and North-Eastern China giving a Full Overview of the Gobi Deserts. Clearly visible details of geographical features such as mountain ranges, rivers, valleys and lakes.
Map includes country borders, name and location details of Cities and Villages (clearly visible).
Mouse over Image to Reveal more information and follow the flow and path of the yellow river from Xining in Qinghai Province to the Bohai Sea. Details of old / former Yellow River flow (south of new) and new trajectory to the Bohai Sea.
After crossing over the Yellow River near Old Ox Bend, the Great Wall and sites become far less visited as they head into more and more remote regions. From The Very North-East corner of Shaanxi Province the Wall passes along the edge of the barren Ordos Desert to end up at Yulin. Yulin today is a small City but in the far past it was nothing more than a Garrison Fortress with a cross-border trading post attached. The Wall at Yulin knows remnants from several Era's and became a key-piece in the Defenses of the Region.
All Great Wall sections East of Shanhai Guan, the East Terminus of the Main Wall body at the Bohai Sea in Hebei Province, are part of an added outer layer dating to later years of the Ming Dynasty Era. This Outer layer reaches between
Mot much publicized locally or in today's travel guide, Just North of Datong in North Shanxi Province lies the Fengzhen Pass, the ancient gateway into Inner-Mongolia. A former Front-line Gate on the Outer Layer of the Great Wall Fengzhen Pass suffered many a siege, attack and even breaches of the Great Wall. With nearby Datong as its main Garrison City, Fengzhen Pass became an important gateway of Trade during the Ming Dynasty. In later years, when Inner-Mongolia fell under Chinese Control the pass was forgotten.
Beyond Hebei Province and Beijing, the Great Wall passes through Inner-Mongolia Autonomous Region. Here, on the other side of the jagged Jundu Mountains, at some 200 kilometers from Hohhot, the first station on the outer-most Wall is the Fengzhen Pass. In the Gobi desert south of Fengzhen an uncrowded and largely unreconstructed stretch of the Great Wall marks what was once the northern boundary of China’s Middle Kingdom. Though cold and isolated, this part of China offers tremendous hiking. To the West the wall continues along the Shanxi Province border through a hilly landscape past dozens of small villages to end up at the Yellow River near Pianguan, known to have the most spectacular view along the length of the Wall. There are 5 more Great Wall locations in North Shanxi, however all belong to Inner-Layers.
As recently as 1998 AD archaeologists working in Xinjiang Autonomous Region found a wall that ran from Yumen Pass (Jade Gate) near Dunhuang in Gansu to the northern edge of Lop Nur, skirting one of the trajectories of the Silk Road. As with other sections of the Great Wall in the far west including the Yumen Wall remnants, these were earthen ramparts made of rammed yellow sandy soil and jarrah branches. There is little or no doubt that this is part of the Great Wall - most likely dating to the Tang Dynasty Era, as it comprises a complete defensive network. This discovery extended the length of the Great Wall by 500 km, to bring the wall to a length of 7,200 kilometers.
Great Wall - Lanzhou Region
For the Moment, see Lanzhou City (Landmarks).
What Beijing was in the East, went nearly equally for Lanzhou in the West. That is, the Lanzhou Garrison and extensive defenses served at the military bulwark in the entire West.
More information available soon !
Great Wall - Wuwei Changcheng
Wuwei is a small Town in the Tibetan influenced parts of the lower (Eastern) Hexi Corridor, a strategic and narrow mountain pass leading due North-West out of Lanzhou. Inside the south section of the Hexi Corridor and just North of the Highest Point along the entire length of the Great Wall lies the Town of Wuwei. From Wuwei, the Wall leads in not two, but 3 directions. One of them is Tibet! More information and Photos available soon !
FromZhongweithe Great Wall connectstoShapotouwhereitreachesthestartingpointoftheUpperonethirdoftheYellowRiverandleadsWestwardintoGansuProvince.BuiltalongtheGorgesofthesteeplyerodedClifffacesoftheLoessPlateauxofthisRegion,abovetherapidsoftheYellowWatersthereisamainouterlineofdefenseandfurtherinlandseveralremoteadditionallayersandsites.