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Home >> China City Guide >> Beijing >> Mutianyu Great wall - Beijing trip information
 
 

Mutianyu Great wall

 

Beijing Mutianyu Great wall
Mutianyu Great wall

Mutianyu Great Wall is situated in Huairou County, about 80 kilometers northeast of Beijing. As one of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall, Mutianyu Great Wall stretches from Juyongguan Pass in the west to Gubeikou Gateway in the east. In its day, Mutianyu Great Wall served as the northern barrier that defended the capital city and the Imperial Tombs from the heathen tribes to the north which, prior to the erection of the Great Wall, had instigated numerous raids on Imperial China. The Mutianyu stretch of the Great Wall is 22 kilometers long and has 22 watchtowers - the highest of which reaches an altitude of 540 meters above sea level, thanks to the mountain peak on which it is erected - making it the most densely packed section of the Great Wall as far as watchtowers go.

Like other sections of the Great Wall, Mutianyu has a superstructure in the form of a rampart, or a protected parapet with crenellated walls that reach about 5 feet above the height of the parapet (a crenellated wall consists of solid sections (merlons) that alternate with gaps (crenelles) for firing a weapon). The usual crenelle is rectangular, while some of the crenelles of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall are of a saw-toothed shape. Mutianyu Great Wall averages an own-height of 78 meters, with a width of some 45 meters.

Unlike many other sections of the Great Wall, most parts of the Mutianyu section are constructed of granite, making the wall here extremely robust, though the parapet and the crenellations are of brick. The towers of the Mutianyu section are not so much towers as squat, mini-fortresses dotted along the length of the wall. They are a sort of fortified, oblong (rectangular) building, about three times wider than the wall itself, with space inside for the storage of weapons and ammunition - as well as food and drink and some sleeping accomodations - and with an inner staircase that provides access to the parapet above and to the row of "windows", or embrasures, located one storey below the parapet, and whose openings are much wider on the inside than on the outside of the enormously thick walls, making them ideal for defensive purposes, since a defender can see the would-be attacker before the would-be attacker spots the defender (with embrasures, two defenders stand at either side of the wide inner opening, firing across each other's line of fire, though surely at different heights, or levels).

As an added measure of security, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is crenellated on the inner side as well as on the outer side, and same applies to the embrasures of the watchtowers. This meant that the wall's defenders could protect their rear guard in the event of a breach of the wall at any given point (the fact that the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is so well-preserved suggests that would-be attackers chose to mount their attacks on less-impregnable sections of the Great Wall). Another function of the watchtower, as the name implies, was as a sentry post for observing approaching invaders. In this connection, an integral part of the watchtower was its signalling platform, which was used to light a fire of special material that would smoke profusely, as a way of warning adjacent watchtowers of the impending danger, and of summoning help (the more watchtowers that sent up smoke, the larger the attacking force).

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