Great Wall of China at Niangzi Guan (Niangzi Pass)


RMB 15


How to get there:

The site is located off the expressway between Taiyuan and Shijiazhuang (Shíjiāzhuāng Shì, 石家庄市). To get to Niangzi Guan, first take a bus from the Taiyuan bus station to Yangquan (Yángquán Shì, 阳泉市), followed by a bus to Nianzi Guan. From Niangzi Guan village, hire a car to the fort (Niángzi Guān Jǐngqū, 娘子关景区) (about RMB 40 round trip). Be sure to negotiate price ahead of time.

This Great Wall of China fortress hugging the cliffside along the Peach River (Táo Hé, 桃河) has long been a strategic point for control of northern China. Occupying a key point on the border of Hebei and Shanxi near the latter's provincial capital at Taiyuan, Niangzi Guan (Niángzi Guān, 娘子关) proved its use even into the middle of the 20th century. Inside, the renovated fortress consists of clustered buildings and narrow lanes. The similarly renovated wall runs up along the cliffside on either side of the fortress.

A number of springs and waterfalls flow in the area around the fort, including the wide waterfall over Water Curtain Cave (Shuǐlián Dòng,你水帘洞), which is some 300 m (328 yd) east of the fort's gate.

First established as Weize County during the Sui Dynasty, the pass would also figure in Sui's downfall. The future Princess Ping Yang, third daughter of Sui general Li Yuan held the pass along with the all female soldiers under her command, recruiting more to their cause before joining her father in taking the Sui imperial capital and thus establishing the Tang Dynasty. The current name of the fort, meaning "Women's Pass" comes from the story of Ping Yang and her lady soldiers.

The current fortress was first built in 1542 during the Ming Dynasty, where it continued to be an important point for defending the north, even into modern times. When the Eight Nation Alliance invaded China in response to the Boxer Uprising, Niangzi Guan, along with nearby Gu Guan, were important points where Qing forces were to hold off the invaders and protect the imperial court, which had fled to Xi'an. French troops easily took the pass.

Later, during the Chinese Civil War, the Communists took the pass from defending Nationalists at the Battle of Niangzi Guan, allowing them to bring troops through while denying movement to Nationalist troops, helping ensure victory in their northern campaign.

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