Where does the Great Wall of China Start?

Due to the years of weathering and erosion, natural disasters (earthquake, flood, etc.), human-caused destruction, most of the Great Walls built in the early dynasties were badly ruined, and some gradually disappeared in history. Only the ones built in the Ming Dynasty were relatively in a better condition. Therefore, the current Great Wall that people often see now in North China is actually the Ming walls.

Before 1990s, Shanhaiguan Pass (山海关) in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province, had been considered as the east end of the Great Wall. But it was recorded in the book History of Ming Dynasty that the Ming Wall started from the Yalu River in the east”. But there had been no convincing evidence to prove it for quite a long time.

the Great Wall of China east end

In 1989, the local departments of cultural relics and archaeology discovered the ruins and debris of the long walls that stretched from north to south on Hushan Mountain of Dandong in Liaoning Province. After later field investigation by a large number of Great Wall experts and scholars, it was eventually identified as the starting point of the eastern end of the Great Wall in early 1990s.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping jointly announced on April 18, 2009 that the Ming Great Wall starts from Hushan in Liaoning in the east, and ends in Jiayuguan, Gansu in the west, passing through Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai. There are 156 counties in ten provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities), with a total length of 8851.8 kilometers.

15 kilometers east of Dandong City, the Hushan Great Wall (虎山长城) starts from the bank of the Yalu River, winding its way on the Hushan Mountain (literally meaning Tiger Mountain). Due to its resemblance to two erecting tiger ears, the mountain is also known as Hu’er Mountain (Tiger Ears Mountain).

The Hushan section was first built in the fifth year of Ming Emperor Chenghua (AD 1469), and its main function at that time was to defend against the intrusion of the Jurchens in Jianzhou. Nurhachi (the tribal leader of Jurchens) proclaimed himself King of Jianzhou and neighboring areas. He ordered to demolish the defense system built by Ming Dynasty in that region, including the Hushan Great Wall.

The current Hushan Great Wall was first renovated in early 1990s on the ruins of the Ming wall built 500+ years according to the "Hushan Great Wall Restoration Design Plan" passed by the Dandong Municipal Government in 1992. After the completion of the second renovation in 2009, a length of 1250-meter-long wall was fully restored, with the twelve scenic spots in total, including the Great Wall Museum, plank path on the mountain, crossing gate tower, beacon tower, and battle tower, etc. What is more, you will have a chance to overlook the border area of North Korea by standing on the top beacon tower of the Hushan Great Wall.

Keep reading:

  • Which dynasties are best known for constructing the Great Wall?
  • Why the Great Wall of China is Deemed to a System

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