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  History of Badaling Great Wall

Badaling, about 60km to the northwest of downtown Beijing, or 116¡ã65¡¯ east longitude and 40¡ã25¡¯ north latitude, is a mountain pass of wooded Jundu Mountain. As recorded in Changan Kehua of Ming Dynasty, ¡°Roads are separated here to extend in all directions. It is thus known as Badaling, the highest of all passes.¡±

The name of Badaling could be dated back to Arriving at Badaling at Night, Ascending Until Dawn, and Leaving Badaling, long poems of Liu Ying, a poet of Jin Dynasty. In Yuan Dynasty, it was referred to as the ¡°north mouth¡± as opposed to the ¡°south mouth¡±, which is found in Changping district, northern Beijing. There is a 40-kilometer gorge from the south mouth to the north mouth, which accommodates to the famous Juyong Pass of Great Wall. In this sense, the gorge is also known as Guangou (pass gorge). Badaling sits at the highest point in the northern end of Guangou. Here, two mountain summits stand opposite each other, leaving a channel in the middle. It looks down from a height, featuring imposing circumstances. Looking down from Badaling at Juyong Pass, we feel as if peeping at other¡¯s roofs or courtyards. Therefore, there went the old saying that Juyong Pass was strategically important in Badaling rather than the Pass itself. Because of the special topography, the Badaling mountain pass turned into a place contested by all strategists in the old days. It had always been heavily stationed. It could be traced back to the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period for Badaling to develop into a strategic military location. According to the Historical Records and census by cultural relic workers in recent years, Badaling witnessed construction of Great Wall in the Warring States Period. We can still see remnant walls and piers, whose directions are largely identical with the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. As recorded in a Han document, Jundu and Juyong passes were built at Badaling. Commentary on the Waterways Classic, a work of Northern Wei period, said that ¡°Juyong Pass is located in the Juyong bound, thus it takes the name. The southern is a dead end, so rocks are piled to make the Pass. It is abounded with stiff cliffs and unattainable even to men of light magic¡­. The water flows to the south, across the Jundu realm¡­.¡± Therefore, some experts propose that Han Dynasty regime built Juyong Pass at Badaling. Where did Juyong come from? When Emperor Qinshihuang had Great Wall built, a number of poor peasants and criminals were migrated into the south and settled down at the Guichuan Basin of Jundu Mountain. The place was referred to the residence of Yongtu, or second-rate people. Emperor Wudi of Han Dynasty moved Guichuan under the reign of Juyong County (imitating Yanqing). The topographical features and landscapes of the Pass as recorded in Commentary on the Waterways Classic are the same with the geographical environments of Badaling.

The Northern Wei regime of some 1,500 years ago constructed Great Wall near Badaling. As recorded in Biographic Sketches of Emperor Shizu, Wei Records, in the 7th year of Northern Wei Tuobashi Taiping Zhenjun (446), a Great Wall was built to the north of the capital city Pingcheng (today¡¯s Datong), known as Ji Shang Sai Wei (military works to defend the capital city.) It ran from Shanggu Jundu Mountain (near Badaling) in the east and stretched towards the bank of Yellow River in the west. Later on, as it came to the 6th year of Emperor Tianbao of Northern Qi regime (555), a Great Wall was constructed from Datong in the west and, via Jundu Mountain, went eastward to the seaside.

Badaling Great Wall was reconstructed when it came to the Ming Dynasty period.

Zhu Yuanzhang, Emperor Taizu of Ming Dynasty, was keenly aware of the military significance of city walls. When he took the throne, he ordered to erect high fortifications and set up defenses for war preparations. Local governments were also enthusiastic to fortify walled cities. Zhu Yuanzhang sent commanders-in-chief Xu Da and Feng Sheng to lead troops to construct Great Wall and train soldiers in the north to prevent surviving forces of Yuan Dynasty to invade the south.

In 1403, Emperor Chengzu Zhu Di, the third ruler of Ming Dynasty, came to the throne. In 1420, he moved the capital city from Nanjing to Beijing. Zhu Di was resolved to unify China. He made five great expeditions, leading troops to penetrate into Mongolia Plateau and go as far as Enen River in today¡¯s Russia (after 1488). After that, he began to launch large-scale and all-round construction of Great Wall. Thanks to a total of 18 large-scale construction projects in 270 years, the Great Wall was finally completed ranging from the Yalu River in Liaoning Province in the east to Bulongji to the west of Jiayu Pass in Gansu Province. This is what we normally say the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of Ming Dynasty extends 14,600 li, through seven provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in north China. It is unparalleled compared with previous walls, in terms of engineering technologies and defense levels. In this sense, the Great Wall of China as we have seen today could be dated back to the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period, connected in the Emperor Qinshihuang period, and improved in the Ming Dynasty.

The Great Wall of Ming Dynasty was no longer simple high walls. They were built into defense systems in depth. Multiple rounds of walls and passes were built in key areas. Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxin and Hebei had constructed double lines of Great Wall. Shanxi Province set up four lines of Great Wall. Multiple passes and multi-lane short walls were constructed in important traffic and military forts. Take the 10-li valley in Yanmen Pass. There were 28 lines of stone walls. It was practically that ¡°every inch of land was barricaded to consolidate at every step.¡±

Badaling witnessed many major events in history. After he visited the Jieshi Hill for a good view of the sea in the east, Emperor Qinshihuang, China¡¯s first emperor, returned through Badaling to Datong and then back to Xianyang. Other rulers passing Badaling included Empress Dowager Xiao of the Liao regime in her imperial tour of inspection, Emperor Taizu of Yuan to enter the Shanhai Pass, emperors of Yuan Dynasty traveling between Beijing and Shangdu twice each year, emperors of Ming Dynasty sending expeditions northward, and emperors of Qing Dynasty in great expeditions¡­. There were countless feudal nobles and men of letters composing poems and essays in praise of Badaling Great Wall. The first poem on Badaling Great Wall was composed by Gao Shi, a poet of Tang Dynasty, in which he gave a minute description ¡°water-fall pours down steep slopes, mountains stand out high as clouds.¡± In the ages of strife among nationalities in ancient China, Badaling staged countless magnificent historical dramas. Nowadays, the bitter histories of old China, feudal lords contending for control over 2,000 years and change of dynasties, have become distant events in the remote past. Our time has endowed new missions to Badaling Great Wall. It serves as a precious monument of history standing upright at summits of mountains. It glimmers with the splendors of Chinese civilization and wisdom, and embodies the unyielding virtues of Chinese nation. It has become the ties of friendship among Chinese people of all ethnic groups, overseas Chinese and foreign friends. It is a precious cultural heritage of mankind.

In 1952, three years after the founding of New China, Guo Moruo, vice-premier and director of the Culture and Education Commission, proposed to repair Badaling Great Wall to receive Chinese and foreign tourists.

Since Qing Dynasty, Badaling Great Wall had growingly fallen into ruin. The Key to the Northern Gate to the west of Juyong Pass was damaged by half. The Outer Town to the east of Juyong Pass was on the verge of collapse. The Great Wall was ruined everywhere in outer and inner walls, forts, terraces and watchtowers. After the State Council decided to have it repaired, related departments acted immediately. Such restorations were done many times later.

In 1961, the State Council approved to list Badaling passes and walls as a state-level major cultural relic preservation site. In 1984, comrade Deng Xiaoping advocated to ¡°Love China and Repair Great Wall.¡± Since then, the centuries-old Great Wall took on new scenes. A total of 19 watchtowers and 3,741-meter walls were repaired, expanding the areas open to tourists to 19,000 square meters. In 1986, Badaling Great Wall was listed as one of the 16 scenes of New Beijing. In 1987, the United Nations put Great Wall in the directory of World Cultural Heritages. In August 1991, Badaling, as an elite part of Great Wall of China, was conferred a certificate of human cultural heritage by UNESCO at the Palace Museum of Beijing. In December 1991, Badaling, known for its admiring scenic spot, won 370,000 votes, an overwhelming superiority, out of 480,000 valid votes to be the best loved of top 40 tourism sites among 94 candidates in an appraisal activity in Zhuhai City.

Baaling Great Wall is famous both in China and abroad. It is the earliest section of Great Wall opened to tourists. There is a popular saying in the country, ¡°He who doesn¡¯t reach the Great Wall is not a true man.¡± To date, Badaling has received 130 million Chinese and foreign tourists. They include 372 foreign heads of states and numerous men of the time, such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagon, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Elizabeth II and Edward Heath. This is indeed rate among world famous scenic spots. Visitors are deeply impressed with Badaling Great Wall, with infinite reverie.

Badaling Great Wall, the best part of Great Wall of China, is greeting invasions of tourists of the world with its centuries-old and yet young vigor. People having ascended the Great Wall are all overcome with the marvelous scenes.