Once running 35 km (22 mi) around central Nanjing, the ancient Nanjing City Wall (Nánjīng Chéngqiáng, 南京城墙) was one of the longest and oldest city walls in the world. Though only about 25 km (16 mi) of the wall's original length remains, the barrier is still an impressive sight, looming an average of 12 m (40 ft) in height.
Disconnected lengths of the wall lie scattered about the city, including, at the south end of the wall, the massive fortress-like Zhonghua Gate, the most impressive of the wall's remaining gates. Where the wall skirts Xuanwu Lake, the Taicheng City Wall offers a scenic walk and connects to still active Jiming Temple.
Though parts of the Nanjing City Wall were built earlier, the wall as seen today was largely built when Ming Dynasty founding Emperor Hongwu established his capital at Nanjing in 1368 with funds from wealthy Yangtze River Valley families. Bricks used in building the wall were required to be labeled with information including place of origin and brick-maker, with the idea being that poorly made bricks could be traced. Many of these ancient stamps are still visible.
Completed in 1393, the wall surrounded and protected the city, proving a formidable barrier even to the invading Japanese during World War II. Though the city expanded to the north in the 1920s, it wouldn't be until the 1950s that Nanjing grew to such an extent that it truly outgrew the wall that had protected it for nearly 600 years.
Like the (sadly demolished) Beijing City Wall and sturdy Xi'an City Wall, the Nanjing City Wall has taken a number of heavy hits in its faceoff with history. In 1864, when Qing troops retook the city from the forces of the Taiping Rebellion who had made Nanjing their capital, the wall was extensively damaged. Not quite a century later, sections of the wall were reduced to rubble by the Japanese. Peacetime proved damaging to the wall as well when it was broken into eight sections by urban development during the 1960s. Fortunately, however, it was spared the total destruction visited upon Beijing's ancient defenses.
Amazingly enough, it wasn't until the 1980 that the government deemed the Nanjing City Wall to be a historical site worthy of special protection. Though a few parts resemble the face-lifted sections of the Badaling Great Wall and Xi'an City Wall, much of the wall retains its history-scarred façade, consisting of a patchwork of brick sections often topped off by grassy stretches that create an elevated green walkway perfect for explorations and casual strolls.
Honoring those lost during one of the darkest moments in modern Chinese history, the Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre (Nánjīng..
Situated at the foot of Zijin Shan (Purple Gold Mountain) in the east of Nanjing, the Ming Xiaoling Tomb (Míngxiào Líng, 明孝陵) is the..
A highlight of Nanjing's Zijin Shan, Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum (Zhōngshān Líng, 中山陵) is one of the most interesting monuments in modern..
Facing a branch of the Qinhuai River (Qínhuái Hé, 秦淮河), Nanjing's eponymous Confucius Temple (Fūzǐ Miào, 夫子庙) sits amid the..