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"History of the Overhanging Great Wall - Part I" Jiayuguan Things to Do Tip by mke1963

Jiayuguan Things to Do: 30 reviews and 52 photos


It may seem odd that the stretch of wall from Jiayuguan to the Overhanging Great Wall sits at the bottom of the ridge, overlooked by it, but as Aurel Stein pointed out when he visited in July 1907 "that it seemed strange until I realized to what extent the levl of the ridge is broken by steep ravines. Overlooked though the wall is from the plateau crest, it was safe from being commanded in the days of arrows or matchlocks, and there was the supreme advantage of an ample supply of water from springs close at hand." Even today, those springs produce a water supply for the farmers tilling the good soil just inside the wall.

While the wall ran along the flat base of the ridge to the north, the Ming had built three watchtowers high up on the ridge, and well before the wall itself was constructed here. Each of the watchtowers here are identical in form to those built way to the west of Jiayuguan, in the desert near Dunhuang - a cone of tamped earth, 34 foot square at the base, narrowing slightly at the top with a double line of footholes to allow soldiers to scale the wall using a rope. At the top, crenellated fortifications have tiny loopholes to allow rifles to be rested while aiming. The watchtower sat inside a sixty foot square courtyard, behind walls 11 feet thick and 16 feet high.

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  • Written Feb 18, 2006
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