Chinese imperial dynasties appeared, prospered and died out through history. The Great Wall witnesses their vicissitudes, and demonstrates the Chinese people's hard working spirit, and the splendid culture and history of the Chinese civilization.
Located 140 kilometers north-east of Beijing City, there is a section of the Great Wall, called Jinshanling Great Wall. The Jinshanling Great Wall was first built in the sixth century during the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589). It got its name because it was built on the Jinshan Mountains. Along it are 67 watchtowers, all in different styles, at average intervals of 150 meters.
The total length of this section is about eleven kilometers (6.8 miles), and the scenic spot of the Jinshanling Great Wall has an area of 32 square kilometers. The Wall is about seven to eight meters high and five to six meters wide, which is made of brick and stone. The Jinshanling Great Wall has an elevation of 700 meters. Watching Beijing Tower is on the highest position, from which you can see Beijing city. The Big and Small Jinshanlings lie between Wuling Mountain, the first peak of Yanshan Mountain and Wohu Mountain in the Gubei Pass. Steep peaks tower up to the sky and continuous mountains stretch over thousands of miles. The Gubei Pass in the west is the only pass leading to the inside. Since ancient times, every military commander would fight to his death for the strategic pass, reputed as the Second Badaling Great Wall.
During the Ming Dynasty, General Qi Jiguang improved the structure of the Jinshanling Great Wall by making it higher and denser by building double walls at strategic sections. Its gentle gradient makes Jinshanling a vulnerable spot, easy to attack but difficult to defend. At the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall, however, the walls are more solid, and the watchtowers taller, and more concentrated. Viewed from a distance, the Jinshanling Great Wall is like a giant dragon, curving its path over the mountain peaks whose line it follows.
There are more than 100 enemy towers along the whole Jinshanling Great Wall. Built stably and elegantly, different towers have different structures and appearances. Rows of 3-meter-high Barrier Walls were built leading to the enemy towers to protect the towers. Some of the towers are storerooms as well. They were used to store food, hay and weapons.
Photographers know that the best place to take pictures of the Great Wall is not Badaling or Shanghaiguan, but Jinshanling. The Great Wall from Simatai in Beijing to Jinshanling in Hebei is the best preserved stretch; so many overseas visitors choose it. It is said that there are more overseas Great Wall climbers in Jinshanling than Chinese. People also say that anyone who has climbed Jinshanling is not interested in seeing any other part of the Great Wall, as it retains its original Ming Dynasty outlook, and so vividly reflects the full ethos of that epoch.
An 800-meter long cable was built to entertain the tourists. Also a 3-kilometer section of the Wall was rebuilt and is bathed after dark in colored light, making a splendid "Night Great Wall". Many Great Wall researchers and cultural relics experts, including Luo Zhewen and Zhu Xiyuan, have been coming to Jinshanling since 1980, and consider it to be of strategic importance, great aesthetic value, and to reflect the very essence of the Great Wall. Members of the Great Wall Green Project Investigation Group have walked the entire length of the Great Wall, and many of them believe Jinshanling to be its most beautiful section. Not having been fully renovated, parts of it are in ruins, so it has a more natural ambience than other stretches of the wall that have been completely rebuilt. Jinshanling is far less crowded than Badaling or the Shanhaiguan Great Wall, thus giving today's climbers a hint of the isolation that must have been felt by its ancient defenders.