Shanhaiguan Pass Travel Guide
Shanhaiguan Pass , 15 kilometers northeast to Qinhuangdao City , is the east end of the Ming Great Wall and an important strategic pass of Jizhen Town Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty . It gets its name Shanhaiguan ( Mountain , Sea and Pass ) , for it is beside Mount Yan in the north and faces Bohai Sea in the south . As a strategic point , which holds the key passage from North China to Northeast China , it has been contended by military forces in history and thus eams the reputation described in the following lines " There is no other place in the world to be the key of two capitals , It is the No.l pass of the Ten-thousand-1i Great Wall ."
Shanhaiguan was built under the supervision of Xu Da , a founding general of the Ming Dynasty , in the fourteenth year during the reign of the Ming Emperor Hongwu ( 1381 ) . At that time , the Ming Dynasty had just been established and the remaining force of Yuan Dynasty , driven out of the Great Wall but not resigned to their defeat , always sent cavalrymen to attack Central Plains . Xu Da made a far-sighted decision to build a pass and garrison troops in this strategic point . He directed over 15,000 soldiers stationing along Mount Yan to build and renovate the Great Wall in Shanhaiguan area and build the No.l Pass Under Heaven-Shanhaiguan , which has enjoyed a good name ever since then .
Shanhaiguan is a stately and magnificent pass . The pass town is a rectangu lar one , with a perimeter of over 4 kilometers . The solid town wall , 12 meters high and 6 meters thick , is made of rammed earth covered by bricks . According to legend , Xu Da , very strict in building the Great Wall , after each section of the wall was rammed flrm , would select a sturdy young soldier with strong arms to shoot arrows from a powerful bow in a distance of one hundred paces . If the arrows could not be shot into the wall , the wall was proved to be up to the standard . There are gates in the east , west , south and north of the pass town , respectively named as " Zhendongmen Gate " , " Ying¡¯enmen Gate " , "Wangyuanmen Gate " and " Weiyuanmen Gate." A town moat , 15 meters wide and 7 meters deep , surrounds the city wall . There are Luocheng outside the east gate and the west gate , and wing cities outside the south gate and the north gate . Many beacon towers are distributed around the pass city . The whole architecture is very rational , with the primary buildings working in concert with secondary ones , forming a well-conceived and complete military defense system . Shanhaiguan Pass is the quintessence and model of the Great Wall architecture .
Zhendonglou Building standing on top of the east gate , also named as " the No.l Pass Under Heaven " Gate Tower , enjoys the greatest reputation as the symbol of Shanhaiguan . It was built during the reign of the Ming Emperor Hongwu . The east gate , 12 meters high , is an enormous arched door made of bricks. "The No.l PassUnderHeaven" GateTower, a two-stored building with nine ridgepoles and a double-eaved roof paved with tiles , is 13 meters high , 20 meters wide and 11 meters deep . There is a door at the center of the lower store on the west side of the tower and 68 arrow-shooting openings on the other sides . Around the tower are platforms filled with crenels . The whole architecture is very splendid .
Hung high on the forehead of the upper store is a horizontal tablet inscribed with "The No.1 Pass Under Heaven", the most charming thing of the gate tower. The tablet made of best-quality wood , 5.8 meters long and 1.55 meters wide , is very striking with black characters against a White ground . The solemnity of the bold , vigorous and dignified Chinese characters inscribed on it forms an organic entirety with the style of the gate tower architecture , which makes the pass even more famous . It induces reveries since there is no signature of its writer signed at the right end corner of the tablet as usual . According to legend , the tablet was written by Xiao Xian , a native of Shanhaiguan , also a successful candidate in the highest imperial examination in the reign of the Ming Emperor Chenghua . After he finished writing and hang the tablet high up on the gatetower , people discovered that one stroke was missing in the Chinese character ¡°ÏÂ¡±. Then Xiao Qian dipped a piece of cloth into prepared Chinese ink and huried it up. The cloth fell onto the exact place where the stroke was missing , which made the tablet perfect . This story lends more fame to the tablet .
Shanhaiguan is at the shore of a sea and by the side of a mountain , which has made it a military town in history . There have been many important battles crucial to the development of history merely since the Ming and Qing Dynasty . In 1644 , Li Zicheng fought against Wu Sangui at the bank of Shihe River in Shanhaiguan . Wu Sangui , irritated by the loss of his favorite concubine , collaborated with the Qing troops to defeat Li , which made the Qing troops enter the pass very easily , and led to the downfall of the Ming Dynasty and the establishment of the Qing Dynasty . In 1924 , during the Second Zhi-Feng War , both parties threw in tens of thousands of soldiers in Shanhaiguan and fought continually over one month , leaving innumerable bodies scattered all over the battiefield . In the end , Feng troops won and entered the pass . In January , 1933 , Chinese and Japanese forces fought here fiercely for two days . Though Chinese defending soldiers fought very bravely and even had bayonet fighting against the invaders , due to a great disparity in number , Shanhaiguan was occupied by the Japanese at last . This is the famous Yuguan Resistance Battle . In August , 1945 , KMT and Chinese Communists¡¯ troops fought against the Japanese for over 20 days , which helped the Chinese forces drive to the outside of Shanhaiguan and this helped to control Northeast China which was formerly occupied by the Japanese .
One kilometer east of Shanhaiguan , there is Weiyuan Fort , whose perimeter is 614 meters and whose height is 10 meters . On its south gate , the only gate that opens , are inscribed two Chinese characters " Wei Yuan" . In the fort there is a high platform named " Weiyuantai ". In four fort walls , 21 brick caves of different sizes had been built for soldiers to hide , which are very original in design . weiyuan Fort is built on Huanxiling ( Happy Ridge ) in Shanhaiguan.This ridge is also named as Qihuangling ( Sad and Worried Ridge ) . The reason why both " happiness " and " sadness are used to name the same place is that the ancient garnsoning troops felt very sad when they went out of Sanhaiguan Pass and very happy when they came back and entered the pass . Such emotional change reflected the soldiers¡¯ reluctance to leave home .