Badaling Great Wall

The Badaling Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands and mountains like a gigantic dragon. The parts of the Great Wall we see today to the north of Beijing at Juyongguan and Badaling were mainly the Ming construction. Locates 11km away from Juyongguan Pass and 60km north of Beijing, Badaling, which means "giving access to every direction", is the best-preserved section of the Great Wall. First built in 1505 with an elevation of 600 meters, the wall average 7.5 meters high, 4 meters thick, 6.5m wide on the base and 5.8m at the top.

Stretching out for 4,770m among the rolling mountains, Badaling section of Great Wall is dotted with 19 strategically located watchtowers, which were used to protect the capital against attack in ancient times, bringing Badaling the name of "key to the north gate."

On the top of the wall is a road paved with square bricks, wide enough for six horses or ten soldiers to march side by side. On both sides of the road, outer parapet and inner parapet were set. The outer parapet is crenelated with merlons almost two meters high. The crenels were used as peepholes and the embrasure below each crenel was used as loophole. The inner parapet, which is 1 meter high, was used to prevent the horses and gharries from overturning from the mountains.

First built in 1505 with an elevation of 600 meters, Badaling now is the best-preserved section of the Great Wall. Along the wall, there are many signal towers, which were used to transmit military message. In those pre-electricity days, probably fire and smoke were the most efficient ways for communication (normally fire was used at night and smoke during the day). In 1468, a series of regulations were set to give the specific meanings of these signals: a single shot and a single fire or smoke signal implies about 100 enemies, two shots and two signals warned of five hundred, three shots and three signals warned of over a thousand and so on. In this way, a message could be transmitted over more than five hundred kilometers within a few hours.

Badaling fortress, with an elevation of 600 meters, was built in 1505. The walls, built in 1571, are 10meter high, 4meters thick and over 1km long in circumference. The fortress has two gatetowers. A tablet inscribed with "outpost to Juyongguan Pass" is hung on the eastern gate and another one "the Lock on the Northern Gateway" on the western gate. As the entrance to Badaling, this fortress is an important defensive spot on the north side of Juyongguan Pass. If Badaling were seized, it would be difficult to defend Juyongguan Pass. In the Ming dynasty, strong force was garrisoned there.

East of the fortress lies a huge rock, 7 meters long and 2 meters high, which is named Watching Beijing Rock. It was said that the Empress Dowager Cixi once passed here as she fled to the north when the Eight Allied Forces invaded Beijing in 1900. Making a short stop there, she looked toward Beijing and recalled her comfortable life in the Forbidden City. Hence the name.

Badaling, the essence of the Great Wall, in 1987, was listed as the "World Cultural Heritage" by UN. In recent years, this section of Great Wall was repaired and Great Wall Museum, Badaling Great Wall Cableway and other tourism facilities were built near the wall. So far, about 80 million visitors from all over the world, including 300 heads of state and other celebrities from foreign countries visited there. The wall, as the witness of the history, today serves as the friend bridge between the Chinese people and people from other countries.

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