Shanhaiguan is a small, sleepy town and port of the northern
section of the Bohai gulf, holding the access between northeast
China and north China. Shanhai Pass, 15 kilometers from the tourist
city of Qinhuangdao, got its name from being situated between the
Yanshan Mountains and the Bohai Sea.
Built in 583, it was renovated throughout various dynasties
until it was transformed into a formidable military stronghold
during the Ming Dynasty.
As the strategic passage between the north and northeast China,
this pass has been a bone of contention for military strategists
since the ancient times. It is also considered the No.1 pass of the
Great Wall and the key to the defense of two
ancient capitals - Beijing in the east and Chang'an (Xian) in the
west. Shanhai Pass is a national tourist attraction and the first
strategic pass at the eastern end of the Great Wall.
Shanhaiguan Pass consists of a main castle, two supporting
castles one in the north and one in the south, and two semicircular
protective walls in front of the main castle, the town of Weiyuan
and the town of Ninghai.
Today most of these structures are still well preserved, while
others, such as the wall of Ninghai, the Calm Sea Tower built on
the town wall and the Laolongtou Great Wall, where the Great Wall
meets the sea, have been restored. The brick wall of the pass,
stuffed with earth, is 14 meters high, seven meters wide and four
kilometers in circumference. It is connected with the Great Wall
which stretches onto the rolling Yanshan Mountains in the north and
into the Bohai Sea in the south with parts and battlements that
form a strong and powerful defense system.
On the east gate of the city wall stands a tower hung with a
horizontal inscribed board reading: 'The First Pass under the
Heaven'. The bold characters written in vigorous strokes make the
pass look even more magnificent. The Gate Tower houses an
exhibition of ancient military uniforms and weapons including a
saber that weighs 83 kilos, the heaviest in the country. Once you
ascend the tower and take a broad view afar, the serried
battlements and the rising mist will take you back to the ancient
battlefields of a thousand years ago.
Beyond the Shanhaiguan Pass, the Great Wall stretches eastward
until it dips into the sea at a place called Laolongtou (Old
Dragon's Head). Tourist attractions in the vicinity include the
Jiaoshan Section which has the Great Wall meandering along the
mountain ridges, Shanhaiguan Great Wall Museum which has some
interesting pictures, relics and clothes depicting the life story
of this snaking construction, and a temple dedicated to Meng
Jiangnu, one of China's devoted heroines.
Admission fee: 40 yuan
Opening hours: 08:10 to 16:00
Views and Attractions:
The huge plaque hanging on the tower; climbing up to the second
floor of the tower visitors can see nearby towers, called '
Weiyuantang Tower', ' Jingbianlou Tower', ' Muyinglou
Tower' and ' Linlvlou Tower' respectively, making up the, ' Five
Tigers Holding the Guandong Region'. The Great Wall Museum under
the Pass displays all kinds of archeological data, documents,
photographs and exhibits.
Services: Various kinds of traveling craftworks can be purchased
in the street below the First Pass under Heaven. "Tianwailou
Restaurant" provides local dishes and is an arranged tourism
Two nearby places of interest to include in your visit to
Shanhaiguan are: Laolongtou (Old Dragon's Head), and Temple of
(travelchinaguide.com July 25, 2007)