| The Shanhaiguan section of the Great Wall.
Built in 1381 in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Shanhaiguan is a town situated in the northeast of Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province. It adjoins the Bohai Sea to the southeast and the Yanshan Mountain to the northwest. The city wall of Shanhaiguan is still well-preserved. While the Shanhai Pass of Great Wall is now the main entrance to the town, in the Ming Dynasty the area to the north of Shanhaiguan was not Chinese territory. Following the complex physical features of this area, the northern area was once part of the defensive system of the Great Wall.
Now, however the Shanhaiguan Pass has become a famous attraction in China. As a Chinese saying goes, 'He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man.' There is truth in this saying because, if you do not visit the Shanhai Pass, you will not understand the military power of ancient China. At present, there are six primary tourist spots here, including the First Pass under Heaven, Laolongtou (Old Dragon's Head), the Temple of Mengjiangnu, the Jiaoshan Mountain, the Changshoushan Mountain (Longevity Mountain) and the Yansaihu Lake. Among them, the First Pass under Heavens and Laolongtou should be visited first.
The First Pass under Heaven is actually the east tower of the Shanhai Pass, called Zhendong Tower. It is 13.7 meters (44.95 feet) high with two floors. On the tower is a big board on which there are five huge Chinese characters 'tian xia di yi guan' (the First Pass under Heaven) inscribed by a calligrapher in the Ming Dynasty. Climbing up the Zhendong Tower, you will see that to one side of the tower is the rolling sea, while on the other lies the lofty Great Wall. Furthermore, the Jingbian Tower, Linlu Tower, Muying Tower and Weiyuantang Hall stand on the same axis with the Zhendong Tower. Depending on the complex geographic conditions, these five buildings provided a strong protective screen.
(Photograph : Lian Da)