If the last time you were in Beijing was 15 years ago,
you’d also be surprised at how they have managed to preserve its ancient past even while it transforms into a modern metropolis.
Walking along Wangfujing Avenue, I notice a smattering of bicycles reminiscent of the Beijing I last saw, still pedaling down the streets but is more and more being replaced by cars and buses.
Modern buildings and malls line the streets of Beijing along side stunning ancient eastern architectures. The capital of China with 3,000 years of history is today a dynamic city where the old and new intermingles and is a magnet for local and foreign visitors. It remains the People’s Republic of China’s center of politics, culture and economics.
A visit to Beijing will never be complete without the imperative call to the Great Wall. It was the reason for this trip putting aside the good eats, that is. My nephew wanted to see the Great Wall, after taking it up in school and thus a family vacation was mounted.
So to Juyongguan Pass (also called Juyong Pass) we went one morning. It is the nearest section of the Great Wall to Beijing, a little nearer than Badaling, the most popular section of the Great Wall.
Juyong Pass does not however escape the same glut of souvenir shops and a number of other tourist traps that Badaling has. But if convenience, keeping transportation simple and time management is of importance, both these passes are the best places to get a feel of the walls’ more than 2,000 years history. In fact, as early as the 13th century, the area of Juyong Pass was known for its beauty and was listed as one of the eight “great sights of Yanjing”.
Aside from its easy access, its steps starts off from the same level as the parking lot so there is no need to climb or take a cable car to reach the wall.
It however rises steeply on both sides of the gate
– a reason why we never even reached the first watchtower.
Once a strategic military garrison, this 20 kilometer-long valley,
stretching along the ridge of incredibly steep mountains was considered important in the defense of Beijing in the ancient China. These mountains that flanks the valley can definitely be credited for the beauty of the pass.
If you are looking to see authentic “Ming Dynasty” walls though, this is not the place to be as a short expanse of the wall has been recently restored. Simitai might be a better option since it is virtually unreconstructed and is listed as a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
More of Beijing in my next posts. 🙂