"The start of the mountains" Huanghuacheng by mke1963
Huanghuacheng Travel Guide: 7 reviews and 22 photos
Huanghuacheng is at the very edge of the mountains. To the north, the big craggy limestone hills rise up suddenly, over 1000 metres from the sea-level North China Plain.
It was here that sucessive dynasties built their fortifications to control access to the fertile plain. To the north, and particularly the north-east were numerous tribes and assorted clans, who were frequenty pressured by the unforgiving climate and natural calamities into expanding southwards.
The Great Wall was never, at any time, one single Great Wall. Various fortifications were built, usually around towns and often across strategic valleys. Here to the north of Beijing, the fortifications were intially laid at the edge of the plain, just several hundred metres in from the steep slopes of the mountains. Every year millions of people head for the tourist sites of Badaling and Mutianyu without even noticing the far older wall they pass, half way to the big tourist attractions and the dressed-up Mongol warriors.
Much of the well-known Great Wall was built during a very short period in the middle of the 16th Century to defend Beijing from the notorious Anda Khan. In fact, the young Mongolian chieftain would rather have traded with Beijing, but was refused permission to do so. His raids, oftne out of desperate economic necessity, gave the court hawks the excuse to build and connect the Great Wall as most people know it.
Today, the wall has become one of China's biggest cliches, and one of its most misunderstood icons. It cannot be seen from outer space Think about it....it is four metres wide and the same colour as the surrounding land. You would be able to see every tarmac road on the planet from outer space before you could see the Great Wall. Anyway, it is barely visible from low altitude imaging satellites with magnification.
The Huanghuacheng area gives the opportunity to see the wall in three places...at the well-known Mutianyu (near Hairou, but not in VT's database), at Huanghuacheng and surrounding valleys, and, most spectacularly in the Jiankou section, only really practically accessible from the north (or a four hour walk from Mutianyu).
The most spectacular is at Jiankou but it can also be very dangerous, especially in the rain.
The most charming is probably the stretch west of Huanghuacheng where it climbs a long ridge above the walnut, apple and pear orchards of the villages.
The stretch at Mutianyu is now overcrowded, commercialised and has toboggans and cable cars, but does have the impressive Mutianyu Pass fort, which also provides little known access from the northern side (from the multitude of fish restaurants up the valley north of Hairou).
- Pros:The beauty of the mountains
- Cons:The haze in the summer and autumn months!
- In a nutshell:Great Wall, Great Walks, Great Beauty
One of the nicest areas in Beijing is the succession of valleys immediately north of the Great Wall at Mutianyu. By... more travel advice
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