Why is Jiayu Pass special?
Built in 1372, the Jiayu Pass is one of the best-preserved passes in China as well as the largest pass of the Great Wall. It is located on a strategic passage of the ancient Silk Road at the western end of the Hexi Corridor in today's Gansu Province.
The snow-covered Qilian Mountains spread for hundreds of miles to the south, and the Dragon's Head (Longshou) and the Horse's Mane (Mazong) mountains rise to its north. It takes the name from Jiayu mountain ranges, which mean "beautiful valley".
The scale of the pass
With a wall of 733 meters in circumference and 11.7 meters in height, the pass occupies an area of more than 33,500 square meters (eight acres) and lies at the base of a narrow valley. Its eastern and western gate towers both rise 17 meters, symmetrical in structure and majestic in appearance.
The three concentric layers
It is a square structure divided into three concentric layers: the central area is made up of an inner city, containing the largest of the pass' buildings; an outer city section, surrounded by a large wall dotted with watchtowers, turrets, and high-terrace pavilions; and finally, for purposes of defense, a moat.