Datong Great Wall was firstly built during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-476 BC). Datong Great Wall is also known as the “Outer Section of the Great Wall”. It snakes 343 kilometers from Datong City along the border between Shanxi Province and Inner Mongolia. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Datong Great Wall was a border wall, the frontier between Mongolia and China. It is recognized as the World Cultural Heritage by UNESO.
Datong Great Wall in history
Datong Great Wall preserved abundant wall relics from four dynasties in history: the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD), the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) and the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Datong Great Wall was built from packed soils, rather than bricks. Most of the remains people can see now are from the Ming Dynasty.
Main fortresses on Datong Great Wall
Wandering for 343 kilometers, Datong Great Wall has 72 main fortresses and over a thousand beacon towers in several districts.
Shoukou Fortress locates in northern Yanggao County of Datong. Shoukou Fortress was built in 1546 in Ming Dynasty, but later was destroyed. The wall of this part is 46 kilometers long, with 4 passes and 138 beacon towers for military observation and defense dotted at different places. The fortress lies in the mountains, flowing up and down.
Zhenbian Fortress is the major and most important fortress in Yanggao County in Datong. It was built in 1539 during the Ming Dynasty where the troops were set for defense.
Desheng Fortress locates about 45 kilometers away from Datong, which was a key access and trading hub between the central cities and the Mongolian areas. In the Ming Dynasty, a market was set up here for the merchants of the Han and Mongolian tribes to do business. The fortress had thick and earthy walls, which were sharp and neat. The carvings on the gate are exquisite. The character "De Sheng" is engraved on the forehead plaque on the gate.
Xinping Fortress was built in 1546 and repaired in 1572, which locates in the Tianzhen County in Datong. In the Xinping Fortress, people can see many well-preserved old houses from Ming and Qing dynasties. In the center of the fortress stands a three-storey drum tower called Yuhuang Tower, which is the only drum tower remained in the city. The tower is made of stone and wood. Inside the tower, people can see some exquisite Taoist paintings and patterns.