The Great Wall at Mutianyu

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Anne-Marie on July 3, 2001

No trip to China is complete without visiting the Great Wall so we decided to take an afternoon out of our busy schedule to do it. Our colleague who had been on a tour that included the Ming Tombs advised us against it. We enlisted the help of the hotel concierge to arrange a taxi tour for us and were advised to go to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall because of its better facilities.

The Mutinayu Great Wall is located in Huairou, 70 km northeast of Beijing. The trip took over an hour through a combination of depressed and somewhat developed suburbs of Beijing. We were surprised to see billboards advertising single homes with two-car garages very similar to the ones found in the US next to advertising for public baths with hot water showers scribbled on cardboards. The cab dropped us at a parking lot on the bottom of the mountains. We hiked up a very steep walk lined with stalls selling anything from clothes to quilts to souvenirs. It was a very cold and windy December afternoon and we were the only tourists there. Every time we slowed down to catch our breath, the vendors rushed out to drag us to their stalls "I remember you from last time", "What is your name", "I have something very beautiful for your wife", etc.. We bought separate tickets to enter the park and ride the cable cars.

Opened to tourists since 1988, Mutianyu is noted for its precipitousness and steepness. Undulating slopes and overlapping peaks wind up tops of mountains before dipping downhill. Looking into the distance from this section of the Great Wall, one just gets the impression of an enormous dragon soaring over the sky.

Mutianyu has the largest construction scale and best quality among all sections of the Great Wall. To meet the requirement of strategic defence, Mutinanyu, which is 1,400 miles long, stretches in 3 directions with watch towers in commanding positions. Built mainly with granite, the wall is 25 ft high and the top is 15 ft wide.

It is amazing to think that this imposing structure was built since the mid 6th century, a huge project by a workforce of nearly a million men over difficult terrain and without any machinery. It is sad to hear about the tragic stories of all the hardship and cruel treatment that had brought death to many of the laborers.

The cable car took us through dense vegetation down the mountain. My friend made the mistake of answering one of the vendors and before long, we found ourselves walking to our cab ladden with purchases of quilts, clothes, souvenirs, "Certificate" that we climbed the Great Wall bounded in very Chinese-looking red silk book, all at the vendors "best price". We were glad we did it in the name of Free Enterprise !

Great Wall at Mu Tian Yu
San Du He Village
Beijing, China, 101400
+86 (0)10 6162 6873

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