Great Wall in Shanxi

In Shanxi Province more than 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) of the Great Wall were built in ancient times and now the best preserved sections stretch approximately 1,500 kilometers (932 miles), and are distributed across nine cities and over 40 counties in Shanxi Province.

Many dynasties throughout history built their walls in this area, such as the Warring States (475–221 BC), Eastern Wei (534 – 550), Northern Qi (550 – 77), Northern Zhou (557– 581), Sui Dynasty (581– 618), Song Dynasty (960 –1279), Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644 –1911).

Why have so many dynasties left their respective walls in Shanxi? Historically speaking, Shanxi has always been the border line of Han nationality and nomadic tribes, and was always the battlefield between the two nationalities. The Great Wall was built at that time to serve as a defensive construction. Geographically speaking, Shanxi Province is located to the West of Beijing, so the Taihang Mountain shoulders the responsibility of guarding the West of the capital. Due to these two reasons, Shanxi has been a place of defense and military importance.

Unfortunately there is little of the wall left from the Ming Dynasty. The earliest example in Shanxi Province is from Warring States, which can be seen in Gaoping City. This 75 kilometer long wall starts from Beicun, Gaoping City in the East to Cunjia Village in the West. It was built with the stones, but only stone sheets now remain and most of them are badly damaged. In Ningwu, Xinzhou City, the wall is from Eastern Wei; this section has been preserved compared to other parts built before Ming Dynasty. The walls built in Qi Dynasty are about 200 kilometers long, from north to south, but little is left. 

The remaining walls in Shanxi Province were mainly built during the Ming Dynasty. They are about 780 kilometers (484 miles) in length. Building the Great Wall became a national policy in order to defend the nomad people in the North, especially in the later Ming Dynasty.

The government divided the areas with walls into nine regions for better protection and organization. Two important regions called County and Shanxi County were set then, so Shanxi Province, with walls of more than 154 kilometers (95 miles) built for defensive purposes, had the largest scale building of the Wall at that time. The Ming Great Wall includes two parts, the inner and the outer ones. Being constructed from loess (deposits of silt), the 400 kilometers (248 miles) outer wall stretches along the border of Inner Mongolia and Shanxi Province to the east bank of the Yellow River, while the inner one was hidden in mountains.

The outer and inner walls were connected by Yanmenguan Pass. About 800 square watch towers are scattered across the outer line, while there are approximately 300 watch towers on the inner wall. Ming Great Wall was constructed eight times in history, which made it a tight and complete defensive construction.

Now along the Wall, there are 58 passes with five sections which are steep, and attract many tourists:

Guquan Pass 

Niangziguan Pass 

Ningwuquan Pass

Pianguan Pass & Pingxingguan Pass 

Yanmenguan Pass

The Great Wall in Qing Dynasty, from south to north, was built on the east bank of Yellow River. The 125 kilometers (77 miles) long wall was disconnected in many places and the main parts have been destroyed. The ruined part is about 2.5 meters high.

The Shanxi Great Wall is only just surviving. Natural disasters and vandalism means that it is now urgent that some conservation and restorative work takes place.

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