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Mutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu Great WallMutianyu (慕田峪) Great Wall, is one of the most famous and best preserved sections of the Great Wall together with Badaling (八达岭) and Jinshanling (金山岭) sections. Located in Huanghua Townshi,Huairou District, about 73km to the northeast of Beijing Municipality, Mutianyu is connected with the smaller hotspot sections of Jiankou in the west and Lianhuachi in the east. This section used to serve as the northern wall defending the capital city and the Imperial power, like a giant galloping dragon on mountain peak preserving the entrance to emperors' kingdom. Important section of the Great Wall, Mutianyu is filled with a great amount of historical and cultural relics as well as the most important number of watchtowers. About 20 of them are distributed along the opened tourism area that stretches for about 2250 meters long. Travelers visiting the Mutianyu Great Wall have the possibility to experience the Great Wall in different ways, whether using the thousands stone steps or a cable car. Definitely one of the best places to hike for experiencing the Great Wall, Mutianyu and its surrounding lush forest and woodland transports everyone back to ancient times, back in Imperial China.

History of the Mutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu Great WallThe Great Wall at Mutianyu was built and restored in the early Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), on the remnants of a Wall originally built in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577). Reconstruction took place under the supervision of Xu Da, one of the founding generals of the Ming Dynasty, who was responsible for building a Wall from Shanhaiguan in the east to as far as Mutianyu. The Ming pass at Mutianyu was officially proclaimed in 1404, where is would serve as an important symbol of protection from marauding nomads to the north.

Reconstruction began in 1568 on 1000km of the Wall including Mutianyu. Responsibility was given to Qi Jiguang, a general who had built his credentials fighting Japanese pirates, and who took his responsibilities as a builder very seriously. Construction continued for many years, as the fortifications were built up with solid granite blocks, and included the construction of some of the larger defensive towers.

The most recent renovation of the Wall at Mutianyu took place from 1982-1986, at the direction of the Beijing government. Rather than a defensive fortification, the Mutianyu Great Wall Park has been designated a national tourist attraction, where it attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Mutianyu is a bit more rugged and slightly less crowded than the more famous Badaling. There are abundant natural springs which feed a great variety of plants and trees. Over 96% of Mutianyu is covered by trees and orchards, 

What to see ?

Cable car at Mutianyu Great WallBuilt mainly from granite, the pass at Mutianyu is an appropriately unique section of the Great Wall. 7 to 8 meters high, and 4 to 5 meters high with crenellations on both sides of the Wall, the section of the Wall at Mutianyu stretches for over 2 kilometers.

Matching its military importance, the Mutianyu Great Wall has 22 watchtowers built at almost 100 meter intervals. This number of towers is much more than would be expected along the Wall, and is also highlighted by the particular form and structure unique to this section. The Zheng Guan Tai gate stands with three connected watchtowers, with the center tower rising above the flanking structures. While each tower has its own gate, the main watchtower gate is on the east side of the building, which is quite unusual.

Other unique features in this section include the ‘Tail Wall’ which stretches out perpendicular to the Wall along a ridgeline for stronger defensive positioning, and another perpendicular extension on the other side of the Wall. Invading nomads would use the ridgelines as they marched, to avoid being caught unawares in the brambles and trees below, and the positioning of the Great Wall along the ridgeline and these adjoining tail walls are recognition of the importance of this high ground.

When visiting China and planning to have a hike on the Great Wall, Mutianyu must be one of the choices to experience one of the best discovery of this human masterpiece classified to UNESCO. High scenic spot of China, Mutianyu Great Wall is where experiencing many different insights of China starting with a hike and a climbing using a cable-car providing an all-around service. Secured and meeting international standards (No. 1 Cable Car for Great Wall), taking the machine to reach the top of the wall's section is way more rapid and convenient than the huge stairs, used today by the most courageous visitors. If still choosing to climb up step by step, there are two ways available: south and north where appreciating the different sceneries along the Great Wall, changing with the seasons. Not high in altitude but giving some stereoscopic views, Mutianyu is the perfect place to enjoy China's amazing landscapes. Being an amazed and entertained area where to take some rest for a whole day or more, Mutianyu is also where going for spending a good day with friends or family. There, the China Dream Stones City, Lu Ming Recreation Zoo and the Slide Way, are the three newly established scenic areas encompassing the Great Wall culture, stone culture and entertainment at the disposal of visitors.

Particularity of Mutianyu Great Wall, the surrounding landscape is what makes the difference with other sections of the monument. Indeed, Mutianyu is known for being surrounded with mountains, trees (more than 20 pines species of over 300 years old and about 200 pines species of over 100 year old) and beautiful sceneries. One typical aspect of the section is its changing beauty according to the seasons. Whether visited in spring, summer, autumn or winter, Mutianyu is giving to its visitors the most impressive shots ever seen. Spring and its fragrant flowers vying with each other in beauty and blooming are one of the most famous sightseeing to experience. Summer, recovering mountains with green coats and a delicate sound of flowing lake is enchanting travelers in holiday. Autumn, and its fruitful trees and red leaves dancing with the wind are one of the most praised sceneries by Chinese people. Finally, when winter comes, Mutianyu Great Wall is painted of pure white and coated with silver costume: a northland scene in China, like a dream lived in another world.

Mutianyu Great Wall in depth

Despite its old character among all the different sections of the Great Wall, Mutianyu is also renowned for its beauty and importance together with the Juyongguan and the Huilingkou gateways. The Mutianyu section's function, like the whole Great Wall, was to keep enemies under control in the exterior and protect the capital in the interior. Mainly built with granite produced at a few kilometers away, the walls of Mutianyu Great Wall are 7-8 meters high with a top of 4-5 meters wide, and even an abrupt climbing rising up to 117 meters high. The Mutianyu section attracts the attention of its visitors because of its unique characteristics that can be distinguished out of the many sections composing the Great Wall. Indeed, winding through 1.4 miles to the east through mountains and high ridges, the wall looks almost indestructible. Mutianyu is the only section that comprises a total of 22 watchtowers, a number barely seen anywhere else on the Great Wall. Located in a land where flourishes a luxuriant flora, Mutianyu's smaller sections are called according to the surrounding hills. Names such as the "Ox Horn Edge" or the "Flying Eagle Flies Facing Upward" and the "Arrow Lock" are examples of names used by the locals living around the masterpiece. The construction is even more important for its strategic position on the line with the enemy. Indeed, battlements used to take place on both sides of the walls. All these prominent particularities give to Mutianyu its uniqueness and prominence among all sections of the mighty Great Wall.

Different from other sections composing the Great Wall, Mutianyu section is definitely the area where admiring the most important number of watchtowers and other ancient constructions. When visiting Mutianyu, travelers are left speechless in front of the closely packed enemy towers and perilous passes, densely placed. A total of 22 watchtowers battlements, a shelter for defense soldiers when fighting, are indeed located on the section, with three main one referred as the three hollow enemy towers: one big in the centre and two smaller on both sides. Located on the same level, the three watchtowers are connected to each other inside the wall and compose a rarely seen structure. The outer and inner parapets of the wall are both used to defend against enemies coming from the two sides, a feature very rare on other parts of the Great Wall. In order to reinforce this defensive use, some of the parapets are even seen tooth shaped instead of the regular rectangular form that we see in the Great Wall. Enemy towers, enemy platforms, wall platforms, extension rooms…everything is packed in the same place: an architecture indicating the important strategic position of Mutianyu Great Wall in history and during wartimes.

Surrounding villages and activities
Constructed on a land where villages were already set, cultural and historical relics can be found near to Mutianyu Great Wall. The Mutianyu village was to this point one of the earliest villages near to the Great Wall to be hailed by the Chinese government as a model village because of its rebirth, thanks to tourism and glassware industries. The place is today a favorite of travelers looking for some ancient architecture and typical Chinese insights. Some attractions along the section can be found such as a wheeled toboggan where to ride down on a winding metal track, a great entertainment for kids or parents! Though covered by 96% of forest and grassland, Mutianyu is an area where some branch cities developed on the hill ridge against the inner and outer side of the wall. Flourishing section of the Great Wall, Mutianyu is definitely where coming to have the deepest insight of China's Great Wall and China's gorgeous history.

Admission Fee:CNY 45 (April 1-October 31)
CNY 45 (November1-March 31)
Opening Hours:07:00-19:00 (summer)
08:00-18:00 (winter)
TransportNo. 867 (take at Dongzhimen Outer Station: leave everyday at 07:00 and 08:30 a.m. (2,5-hour drive), only available from March 15th to November 25th), No.106, 107, 123, 132, 206, 24 (from Beijing Railway Station to Dongzhimen, then mini-bus to Mutianyu), No. 916 (around 1-hour drive, fast line, take at Dongzhimen to Huairou Bus Station, then get off and hire a mini-bus to Mutianyu).
Mutianyu Great Wall - Beijing Attarctions - Zhangjiajie China Tours, China Travel Guide

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