Great Wall of China at Yanmen Guan (Yanmen Pass)

Admission:

RMB 35 yuan for adults, RMB 20 for children

Hours:

8:30am-4:00pm daily

How to get there:

The best way to get to Yanmen Guan is to leave from Taiyuan. Take the long-distance bus from Taiyuan to Daixian County (Dàixiàn, 代县), and then you will most likely have to rent a car or minivan to Yanmen Guan—this should not cost more than RMB 150.

Yanmen Guan (Yànmén Guān, 雁门关) is part of the Outer Great Wall in Shanxi Province, just north of Taiyuan, and forms a chokepoint with Ningwu Guan as the central linchpin (and garrison base) and Pian Guan as the westernmost stronghold.

As the stronghold on the eastern flank, Yanmen Guan saw a lot of fighting throughout the centuries. It was first built during the Zhou Dynasty and then fortified over subsequent dynasties, especially the Tang and the Ming dynasties.

It is a spectacular section of the wall, made up of three fortresses, the central fortress is built over a tiny pass between two hills and is called Yanmen (Yàn, 雁 means "wild goose"—the fort and pass are named after the wild geese that migrate through this area each year). The western gate is called Di Li (Dì Lì, 地利) which is the second half of a Chinese quotation, "天时地利" (tiānshí dìlì) which means to choose the proper weather, time and location for a battle—Di Li being the proper location. The eastern gate is called Tian Xian (Tiān Xiǎn, 天险) which translates into "natural barrier," but is meant to describe an impregnable fortress.

The gates and fortress themselves are restored and a sight to behold, but the walls leading out from here swiftly crumble into ruins.

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