A visit to the Great Wall of China (Changcheng 长城) at Jintang Lake
I have visited nine different parts of the Great Wall that are within 100 kilometres of Beijing and several other parts in the northern part of China including the most western end and the most eastern end where it meets the sea. All spectacular – I do love the Great Wall and find each part so individually special even if the more commercial parts are re-built for tourists. Today, I thought I would share my visit to this particular part of the Great Wall – Huanghuacheng.
This section of the Wall is called Huanghuacheng (literally ‘yellow flower wall’) and is said to be between 11-13 kilometres long. It was built in the Ming Dynasty (14th and 15th centuries) and is located in Huairou District which is about 65 kilometres from Beijing.
Some parts of the wall are unrestored but most are restored. There are also several parts of the wall which are underwater; something no other part of the wall has. This is amazing to see where the wall stops above ground and is submerged under water. The steps at some parts of the wall are incredibly steep but the views from the top are spectacular.
The wall is also called the Jintang Great Wall as there is legend that in the Ming Dynasty the emperor ordered a general to build the wall here in Huairou District. The general was taking too much time and at the same time some ministers told the emperor that the general had spent too much money building the wall and the construction was inferior, so the emperor was very angry. Well… as it seems from reading about emperors in Chinese history, they didn’t really look for evidence to support a crime or wrong, it seemed death came quickly to those who allegedly committed a crime or sin…or just didn’t make the emperor happy. No difference in this case, the poor old general was beheaded.
Later, the emperor asked a trusted aide to check the construction. They found that the wall was strongly fortified and money had been spent wisely on the construction. The emperor realised that he had treated the general unjustly; clearly a little too late!! Anyway, the emperor ordered the carving of two Chinese characters into the cliff – the characters are ‘strong and firm’ which was how the wall was constructed under the supervision of the general.
(this photo from http://www.tour-beijing.com)
During summer, the whole area is covered by yellow flowers and in autumn the ground is covered by yellow leaves, hence the name Huanghuacheng Great Wall. Even though my friends and I went in August (middle of summer in China), unfortunately we saw very few yellow flowers (only a few lonely plants on the bare ground) which I was very disappointed about, but seeing this part of the wall was still amazing.
Visiting any part of the Great Wall, you have to firstly take photos and then you have to ensure you walk on the wall and then up the steep steps [there are always steep steps] for the fabulous views. I did both on this occasion but one of my friends walked much further than me up some very [very] steep steps whilst I waited half way relaxing. My dear friend is so much fitter than me!
The whole section of wall has six forts, six passes, twelve beacon-towers, and thirty-two guard towers. Of all the forts, Yaoziyu Fort is the best preserved. It was built along with the rest of the wall in the Ming Dynasty and is still well-preserved. In the castle, there is an ancient Chinese scholar tree. It is said that touching it could bring you a blessing. Unfortunately, on this very hot day, this was one part of the wall that was just too steep for me to climb.