Guguan Pass of Great Wall

Located about 35 km (22 miles) to Pingding County in Yangquan City in Shanxi Province, and about 15 km (9 miles) to Niangzi Pass, Guguan Pass Great Wall is strategically situated and difficult of access. Together with the famous Niangzi and Jiuguan Passes, it is an important fortified place in Chinese dynasties.

Guguan Pass Great Wall is the only complete ancient wall built of stone which is still extant in China. It was first built in Zhongshan State in Spring and Autumn Periods (770 BC - 476 BC), about 155 years before the Great Wall in Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC) and reconstructed in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was one of the four famous passes to the west of Beijing in Ming Dynasty (the other three were Juyongguan, Zijingguan and Daomaguan). The Great Wall expert Luo Zhewen praised it to have the Badaling Great Wall's charm.

Divided by the gate tower, Guguan Pass Great Wall extends in two directions: north and south. The northern section is about 13,000 meters (14,217 yards) starting via Cenhoudi and ending at Jiayugou in Niangziguan. The southern section measures about 7,000 meters (7,655 yards) via Jiangjunyu Village to Baihuikou Village. Built according to the mountain contours, the wall measures about two yards wide and three to four meters (10 to 13 feet) tall. The beacon towers, emplacements and sentry posts were built on the important highest points. At present, there are eleven emplacements and mounds, three enemy towers, two beacon towers, one sentry post and one ammunition tower in existence.

Ascend the expressway overpass bridge from the gate tower and go north, and you will reach the northern section. This section of the wall was laid by unpolished stones. The adhesive between the stones was the mixture of glutinous rice congee and lime which was practiced in ancient times. Go straight about 500 meters (547 yards), and you will come across an enemy tower. The inside structure of the tower is totally different from others. It is in the shape of Chinese character "?". On each side of the wall of the inner "?", there is an arch. A wooden stair on the left side leads to the second floor. On the second floor, there is a brick house which has three windows and one door. The top of the house is covered by wooden planks.

Keep north and pass another enemy tower, turn west, and you will see the wild wall. The first several hundred meters of the wall were badly collapsed. Five to six hundred meters (547 to 656 yards) further, the wall is recognizable. The northern side of the wall is about the length of a man's height, and the southern side uses the mountain slope as the natural barrier.

The southern section of the wall is basically same to the northern section except there is a restored beacon tower laid by the original stones. To the south of the Guguan Pass, in ancient times, a cavalry drill ground was built which was composed of Platform for Appointing Commanders, arrow rest, raceway and archery pavilion. In and around the pass, there are many scenic sights including Xifeng Cave, the Temple to the God of War, the Kwan-yin Temple, the God of Medicines Temple and the Temple of Dragon King. They form into a small royal city.

Occupying an important military position, Guguan Pass Great Wall has witnessed many big historical events. A large group of the emperors, generals and men of letters once took the way.

For example, the dead body of the Emperor Qin Shihuang was sent back to Xianyang (the capital of Qin Dynasty) by way of Gu Pass; the famous battle "Fighting with Back to the River" commanded by the General Han Xin in Han Dynasty (206BC-220) took place around the pass; The Emperor Kangxi passed Gu Pass when made western expedition. The famous men of letters such as Han Yu, Sima Guang, Yu Chenglong and Kong Shangren have left excellent classics to praise the pass.

The Guguan Pass Great Wall was first repaired in October, 1998 by the villagers living at the foot of the wall. They are said to be the descendents of the soldiers who once guarded the pass. Could not bear to see the wall built by their forefathers left eroded, they decided to raise funds to reconstruct the wall. Finally, most sections of the pass were restored to the original state and opened to visitors in 2003.

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