Shanhaiguan Great Wall Museum

Located in Shanhaiguan Pass, about 200m (219 yards) to the south of the city gate of The First Pass under Heaven , Shanhaiguan Great Wall Museum is one of China's three Great Wall museums, the others being the Badaling and Jiayuguan Great Wall Museums. Opened in 1991, it focuses on displaying the history, culture, organization and the military aspects of the Great Wall. Of special interest is the military function and architectural beauty of Shanhaiguan Pass.

The pictures and cultural relics exhibited in the museum provide visitors with a fascinating insight into the history of mankind's greatest construction feat. The exhibits are divided between six halls: Preface Hall, History Hall, Construction Hall, Military Hall, Culture Hall and Shanhaiguan Great Wall Hall.

Preface Hall: Visitors will see the statue of General Xu Da standing at the entrance of this hall. In 1381, Xu Da was ordered to build Shanhaiguan Pass. Here, the story of Xu Da's enterprise is vividly depicted in pictures together with the brief history of the Pass. A map showing the geographical location of the pass and a plan of its layout, providing visitors with an initial impression of this the First Pass under Heaven .

History Hall: The first exhibit in this hall is a model of Banpo Trench depicting scenes of trenches dug by tribal people as a defense against floods and wild animals 7,000 years ago. These trenches are regarded as the early form of China's Great Wall.

Next, a variety of pictures and brief illustrations vividly displays a potted history of Great Wall from Warring States Period (476 BC-221 BC), Qin (221 BC-206 BC), Han (206 BC-220), Sui (581-618) to Ming (1368-1644) dynasties. The maps, records of famous events together with cultural relics make the history of this important section of the Great Wall all the more interesting for visitors.

Construction Hall: In this hall, details of site selection, layout and structure, the use of materials and source of labor during the Great Wall construction are explained. The bricks, tiles and tools used in building the Wall more than 400 years ago give visitors an almost first hand impression of the noisy construction site of the past.

Military Hall: Today, many sections of the Great Wall have been developed into hot scenic spots, which can easily cause tourists to overlook or even forget the initial purpose of the wall – for military use. This hall will help visitor understand how the Great Wall fulfilled its military role. The exhibition of both offensive and defensive facilities such as cannons, scaling ladders, stone mines serve as a reminder of the real violence of war, and that hard-won peace is to be treasured.

Shanhaiguan Great Wall Hall: This hall focuses on the analysis of the defense system of Shanhaiguan Great Wall by a miniature of Shanhaiguan Pass controlled by sound, light and electricity. This is a straightforward example of showing the full extent of the pass extending from Old Dragon's Head to Jiumenkou, and also explains that Shanhaiguan Great Wall is a strict and complete military defense work consisting of passes, walls, watch towers and beacon towers.

In Culture Hall, visitors will learn about the local conditions and customs through a series of 80 pictures of scenic sights, temples, palaces, murals and pavilions along the Great Wall. The museum is indeed a wonderful place to gain a full appreciation of the wall and all it entailed, and should not be missed.

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