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"Jiayuguan Fortress - Part I" Jiayuguan Things to Do Tip by mke1963

Jiayuguan Things to Do: 30 reviews and 52 photos


Shortly after Emperor Hongwu proclaimed himself the first Ming Emperor in 1368, he sent General Feng Sheng to the West to wipe out the remaining troops of the defeated Yuan dynasty. He ended up at Suzhou in Gansu, where he was tasked by the emperor with closing off the narrow pass that allowed entrance to China. The old Han Great Wall passed by to the north and could be closed off by running a new wall from the Heishan Mountains to the north down to the deep Taolaihe river gorge. On a slight ridge lay the perfect location to build a military fortress. It commanded a great view of the entire 17km wide pass and lay beside a spring and a permanent stream. The first fortress was built in less than 12 months.

The stone flags under the tower gateways are huge - each one 2 metres long and half a metre thick. They were brought from a quarry at Mozigou in the Heishan and it was a difficult task to bring the huge slabs to the fortress. Cleverly, they decided to move them the 10km in the depths of winter by pouring water on the roadway. The water froze solid and the slabs were slid along the road to the building site with ease.

One of the most cunning ideas for easing the construction process came from a child goatherd, who suggested using goats, each carrying two adobe bricks tied at either end of a strap over its back. The bricks were being manufactured some 20km away where the soil was suitable for brickmaking,and the use of wagons over the stoney desert was time-consuming. The idea was a good one, and huge herds of goats were employed in the army of builders.

Directions: On the western edge of Jiayuguan city, north of the Urumqi road

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 20, 2006
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