Yanmen Pass is the National 5A Class Scenic Spot. It is also called as Xijing Pass, which is about 110 kilometers away from Datong City. Because of its special geographical location, in ancient times, Yanmen Pass was regarded as an important military fortress on the Great Wall. It is also known as the "First Gate of China". Together with Ningwu Pass and Pianguan Pass, they are called as the "Outer Three Passes."
History of Yanmen Pass
Yanmen Pass already had a history of nearly 2,400 years. The pass faces to high plateau area in the north, Xinding Basin in the south. For thousands of years, it is a famous, important as well as dangerous place.
During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-476 BC), the Emperor Wuling of Zhao State firstly established the Yanmen County in this area. When the Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC) reigned over the country, he ordered to establish the Yanmen Pass, aiming to prevent against the northern tribes. Since then, more than 100 times wars had ever happened there, which lasted for nearly 2,000 years.
During the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), the troops of the renowned Yang family garrisoned here to fight against the invading Qidan troops from the northern prairie. In memory of these heroically and indomitable soldiers, some statues have been built at the entrance.
Main structures of Yanmen Pass
Yanmen Pass consists of main gate, an enclosing wall, a defense tower and other three small gates.
The main gate locates between two rolling hills, with a height of 9 meters. The arched gate is stacked with masonry, paving with blue-stone with stone plaques inlaid on the door.
The enclosing wall stretches outwards from the east and west wings of the main gate, measuring more than 5 kilometers long, which is dotted with several beacon towers. The Ningbian Building, commonly known as the Mingyue Building, was built during the Emperor Jiajing Period of the Ming Dynasty. The wall also connected with a stone arch bridge, Lianguandao, which means the first defense line of the soldiers.
The defense tower was built of brick and wood structure, outside the northern gate - Dili Gate. The defense tower is about 5 meters tall, built with hidden doors. On the top of the stone gate of the defense tower, there is a forehead engraved with three Chinese characters "Yan Men Pass".
The northern gate is called Dili Gate. The gate has a brick body, and on the forehead is engraved the inscription with "Di Li". The gate hall is in honor of Yang Liulang, a General of Northern Song Dynasty, with statues of soldiers on both sides. Two cannons are displayed on the gate.