Mutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu Great Wall

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Chinese and foreign tourists are very familiar with the Badaling section of the Great Wall, but not the Mutianyu segment of the wall in Huairou County 79 kilometres away from Beijing proper. The Mutianyu Valley in Huairou County on the outskirts of the capital city was such a strategic point that it was contested again and again through China’s history.

The first wall in this area was built some 1,400 years ago. Construction of the present wall began in the early years of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was not completed until the 15th century. The mountains around the valley are heavily forested, there are many natural springs and thick, beautiful foliage. In the past, these were important military considerations; today, they make this section of the wall a very pleasant place to visit. The watchtowers at Mutianyu are believed to have been designed by Qi Jiguang, the Ming general who won many battles in southeast China. A number of his soldiers were from south China, and perhaps they influenced the architectural style of the brick watchtowers – the shape of the lookout openings at the tops of the towers greatly resembles a fence design popular in that region.

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