Despite the hundreds of buses that visit daily, the Great Wall at Mutianyu is not as crowded as the nearby Badaling or Juyongguan sections of the Wall. Mutianyu’s 2.5 kilometer stretch of the Wall allows you to walk for more than an hour as you explore 23 watchtowers and the valley on both sides of the Wall.
The Great Wall at Mutianyu was built and restored in the early Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), on the remnants of a Wall originally built in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577). Reconstruction took place under the supervision of Xu Da, one of the founding generals of the Ming Dynasty, who was responsible for building a Wall from Shanhaiguan in the east to as far as Mutianyu. The Ming pass at Mutianyu was officially proclaimed in 1404, where is would serve as an important symbol of protection from marauding nomads to the north.
Reconstruction began in 1568 on 1000km of the Wall including Mutianyu. Responsibility was given to Qi Jiguang, a general who had built his credentials fighting Japanese pirates, and who took his responsibilities as a builder very seriously. Construction continued for many years, as the fortifications were built up with solid granite blocks, and included the construction of some of the larger defensive towers.
The most recent renovation of the Wall at Mutianyu took place between 1982-1986, at the direction of the Beijing government. Rather than a defensive fortification, the Mutianyu Great Wall Park has been designated a national tourist attraction, where it attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Mutianyu is a bit more rugged and slightly less crowded than the more famous Badaling. Over 96% of Mutianyu is covered by trees and orchards, keeping the air fragrant with chestnut blossoms in the spring and fresh all year long.
Built mainly from granite, the pass at Mutianyu is an appropriately unique section of the Great Wall. 7 to 8 meters high, and 4 to 5 meters high with crenellations on both sides of the Wall, the section of the Wall at Mutianyu stretches for over 2 kilometers.
Matching its military importance, the Mutianyu Great Wall has 20watchtowers built at almost 100 meter intervals. This number of towers is much more than would be expected along the Wall, and is also highlighted by the particular form and structure unique to this section. The Zheng Guan Tai gate stands with three connected watchtowers, with the center tower rising above the flanking structures. While each tower has its own gate, the main watchtower gate is on the east side of the building, which is quite unusual.
Other unique features in this section include the ‘Tail Wall’ which stretches out perpendicular to the Wall along a ridgeline for stronger defensive positioning, and another perpendicular extension on the other side of the Wall. Invading nomads would use the ridgelines as they marched, to avoid being caught unawares in the brambles and trees below, and the positioning of the Great Wall along the ridgeline and these adjoining tail walls are recognition of the importance of this high ground.
Mutianyu Great Wall Tours