The Great Wall of China begins in Qinhuangdao, a coastal city, at its east end. This city is known as Laolongtou in Chinese.
For our long treks to the Great Wall of China, we'll start at Laolongtou or the Old Dragon's Head. Old Dragon's Head extends 23 meters into the sea like a dragon drinking water. It was built in 1579, the 7th year of the reign of Wanli, during the Ming dynasty. During Kangxi's rule in the Qing dynasty (1668), it was repaired. Kangxi and Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty always stopped here on their way to worship their ancestors in Fengtian (current-day Shenyang). This makes the city even more worthy of its name. You can see the Great Wall as it zigzags across the mountains like a dragon to the north. You can see the vast expanse of the sea stretching far into the sky to the south. At this moment, you feel as if you could embrace the entire world.
Old Dragon's Head Complex consists of Estuary Stone City, Jinglu Watchtower, Wangshou Watchtower, Nanhaikou Pass, Chenghai Tower, Ninghai City, and Binhai City.
Chenghai Pavilion is one of the most famous architectural structures. It is a two-story building constructed of bricks and wood. In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong once visited there on their way to worship their ancestors in Mukden (Shenyang City), where they left many poems and inscriptions. A plaque with four Chinese characters - 'Yuan', 'Qi,' 'Hun,' and 'Mang' - and couplets were written by Qianlong hangs on the hall's lintel and columns. These tablets are embedded in the walls with poetry from other famous literary figures.
In 1988, the Nereus Temple was reconstructed about 350 meters away from Laolongtou Great Wall. This temple includes many archways, the Drum Tower, the Nereus Hall, the trestle bridge, and the Hall of the Goddess of Heaven; the Nereus Hall and the Hall of the Goddess of Heaven are the two main structures of the temple. The temple contains sculptures of Nereus, Goddess of Heaven, eight Immortals, and the Door Gods. An inscription by Qianlong adorns the door lintel.
Estuary Stone City was built by famous Ming dynasty general Qi Jiguang. Approximately 22 meters (72 feet) into the sea, its height and width are nine meters (30 feet). It is built on natural reefs and huge rocks thrown into the sea to act as foundations. As a defense fortification, it once resisted attacks by minorities.
The Jinglu Beacon Tower was constructed in 1565. After extensive reconstruction, the beacon tower stands about 15 meters (49 feet) tall. There are three rooms connected by six doors and nine windows in the tower, which allows the rooms to be well ventilated. Together with the Chenghai Pavilion, Nanhaikou (Southern Estuary) Pass, serves as a defense system.
Ninghai City and the Nanhaikou (Southern Estuary) Pass are also worth a visit. It was built in the Ming Dynasty. There are two embrasured watchtowers guarding the South China Sea opposite the north and west city gates. The Nanhaikou (Southern Estuary) Pass is the No.1 Pass of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall.
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