Jinshanling Great Wall lies in the
mountainous area of Luanping County, Hebei Province,
and has a total length of 10.5 kilometers.
The Jinshanling Great Wall was first
built in the sixth century during the Northern and Southern
Dynasties (420-589). Along it are 67 watchtowers, all
in different styles, at average intervals of 150 meters.
During the Ming Dynasty, General Qi
Jiguang improved the structure of the Jinshanling Great
Wall by making it higher and denser and 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.
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.
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.
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.
Zhou Wanping is a photographer who
lives at the foot of the Jinshanling Great Wall. In
the preface to his published photograph album, My Home
Town, he says: "At the time I graduated from high
school and went home, the Jinshanling Great Wall was
being repaired. Although sick, I participated in the
renovation process along with other villagers. This
experience fully brought home to me the hardship involved
in the original construction of the Great Wall. All
the bricks, lime and water needed for construction had
to be carried to the site on the backs of laborers."
Chinese imperial dynasties appeared,
prospered and died out through history. The Great Wall
bears witness to their vicissitudes, and demonstrates
the Chinese people"s hard working spirit, and the
splendid culture and history of the Chinese civilization.