Yantai West Fort Park locates on the Tongshen Hill in the northwest of Zhifu District in Yantai. The fort was built for coastal defense on the mountain facing to the west, so it was named as the West Fort. It is the most well-preserved fort in China so far.
History of West Fort Park
The West Fort Park locates on the Tongshen Mountain. According to the historical records, the spring came out from the stones in the mountain, whose water was clear and sweet, flowing continuously. So people called it Tongshen Water; hence the mountain is called as Tongshen Mountain. Tongshen Mountain has a maximum altitude of 106 meters and covers an area of 10.7 hectares.
The West Fort was built during the late Qing Dynasty. In 1876, in order to strengthen the coastal defense, a large number of the defense walls and towers were built here. In 1887, an additional fort was built. In the 1880s, Li Hongzhang, the minister of the Beiyang Government, promoted the Westernization Movement actively and introduced the advanced Western military facilities. In 1899, he hired the German technicians to build the fort and expand it. At the same time, the German Friedrich Klüber gun was introduced to equip the fort.
In 1901, the Qing Government signed the Xin Chou Treaty. The treaty stipulated “dismantle the fortresses along the coast from Beijing to each port". So the Qing Government ordered to remove the cannons of the West Fort. The gun barrel and the barbette were demolished during the Japanese Aggresssion in 1938.
Introduction of West Fort Park
The West Fort Park is composed of the defense walls, the fort, command post, exercise field, ammunition depot and the city wall. Travelers would firstly enter the defense walls before seeing the fort area. The walls are made of earth and stone to protect the main gate.
The main gate of the fort is 3.5 meters high and 6 meters thick. The gate is engraved with two large gold Chinese characters of "Dongfan", meaning that this is a barrier on the eastern coast of China, protecting the gateway on sea to Beijing, the capital city.
Entering the gate, people will see the 7000-square-meter exercise field. The patriotic soldiers who guarded the fortress used to do daily exercise hard here. There are tanks, artillery and other weapons displayed at the field, which remind tourists of the fierce wars in the past.
Passing through the exercise field, tourists would walk along the bluestone paved steps, and then come to semi-underground command post, which covers an area of 580 square meters. The whole building is made of light red island stone, solemn and simple. The building has three doors and four rooms including a command room, two barracks and ammunition depot.
The fort is connected by the city wall with a total length of about 700 meters. There are more than 200 shooting holes on the wall. There is a racetrack on the inner wall for information transmission. According to legend, the city walls were made by the mixture of rhubarb rice soup and special soil. Although the walls have been eroded by wind and rain, they are still solid as before.