Ningwuguan Pass of Great Wall

Ningwu County in Xinzhou City, Shanxi Province and you will find the famous Ningwuguan Pass of Great Wall. Built during the middle years of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it formed a strategic part of China's northern defenses. 

The Ming, concerned by the ever-present threat of Mongol attack, at great expense, built strong defenses adding to the natural barrier provided by the mountains forming China's northern border. In central Shanxi, the great wall was constructed in three sections with Yanmen Pass to the east and Pian Pass to the west. In a central position and acting as the garrison headquarters was the Ningwuguan Pass. All three passes were of considerable strategic importance as they guarded the valleys that made access possible through the mountain ranges. Of course, they were among the most heavily guarded places on the Great Wall.

However, in 1644 a fierce battle took place at Ningwuguan Pass. Rebel peasants, dissatisfied with their living conditions, formed an army led by Li Zicheng (1606-1645) and defeated the soldiers guarding the pass. They then marched on to Beijing. On arriving at the capital, the rebels overthrew the Emperor, who took his own life on Coal Hill (present Jing Hill of Beijing), bringing an end to Ming rule. The rebel forces were soon to be overcome by the Manchu who were allowed into China at Shanhai Pass without opposition as it was thought they would help quell the rebel army. The Manchu took advantage of the situation and subsequently the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was founded.

The Ningwuguan Pass stronghold has two sections, namely the West and the East Pass. The magnificent looking walls are built along the mountain ridge and create a formidable barrier. In Ningwu County, the imposing Drum Tower stands some 30 meters high and is surrounded by beacon towers. By virtue of its history and fine architecture the area is now an important cultural site under the state protection of Shanxi Province.

Although it no longer has any military function, the Ningwuguan Pass of Great Wall serves as an important junction, linking highways and serving the Tong-Pu Line, the main rail connection between north and south Shanxi.

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