Datong Ancient City Wall is the National 4A Class Scenic Spot and the Provincial Key Relic Protection Unit in Datong. Located in Datong city center, the Ancient City Wall has significant strategic importance since the ancient times covering an area of 3.3 square kilometers,.
History of Datong Ancient City Wall
The Ancient City Wall was built in 1372, by Xu Da, the General of Ming Dynasty. He built the walls upon the ancient relics of the tamped city walls, which were built as a clay structure during the Southern and Northern dynasties (420-589). The walls’ layout kept changing gradually later in the following Tang, Liao, Jin and Yuan dynasties till the Ming Dynasty.
During the Ming Dynasty, Datong was designated as one of the nine military towns along the Great Wall. Datong was also geographically important, situating on the mid-section of the Great Wall. Datong used to defend against the steppe nomads from the north, confront to the galloping Mongols and protect the whole nation.
Features of Ancient Wall
The Ancient City Wall was 14 meters high, 16.6 meters at its widest point, with a perimeter of 7,270 meters. There are 4 main gates, 4 turrets and 54 watch towers spreading at different directions of the walls. The walls are tall and majestic, solid and steep. The base was made by stone strips, slates and blue bricks.
The outline of the city wall is not the traditional straight. It looks like a gear, concave-convex, arranged in an orderly manner. The convex part is the pier. There are totally 52 piers. The distance between each pier is generally nearly 113 meters. Each pier has a trapezoidal structure, with 23 meters long of bottom side and 20 meters long of top side.
In the east of the southern city wall, there is a Yan Tower, which is commonly known as the watchtower. It is also an important observation site during wartime. It is quite rare in the China's city wall construction in history. With a height of about 17 meters, the tower was built during the reign period of Ming Emperor Tianqi. It is the octagonal brick pagoda with seven storeys. The shape is dignified and stable, beautiful and exquisite. On each side of the bottom, it is engraved with the cultural celebrities’ names of the city, in order to inspire the future generations to forge ahead. There is the stepped brick ladder inside the tower that people can climb to the top to have an open view of the city.
The moat encircles outside the outer walls for defense, which is 5 meters deep and 10 meters wide.