The beginning of the Great Wall of China
For our long treks to the Great Wall of China, we'll start from Laolongtou or Old Dragon's Head, which stretches 23 meters into the sea like a dragon drinking water, hence its name. This part of the Great Wall was built in the 7 th year of Wanli reign in the Ming dynasty (1579) and was mended in the 7th year of Kangxi reign in the Qing dynasty (1668). Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty would stop here for a visit on their way to Fengtian (Present - day Shenyang) to worship their ancestors, which makes the city even more worthy of its name. Standing at Laolongtou, facing the misty sea, visitors can easily picture Emperor Qin (221-207 BC), the first emperor of China, sending people into the sea here to find a drug that would give him immortality. You can see the Great Wall as it zigzags over the rolling mountains like a giant dragon to the north. Looking to the south you can see the vast expanse of sea stretching far to merge with the sky. At this moment you feel as if you could embrace the whole world.
It consists of the Estuary Stone City, Jinglu Watchtower, Wangshou Watchtower, Nanhaikou Pass, Chenghai Tower, Ninghai City and Binhai City.
The Chenghai Pavilion is the most celebrated architectural structure. It is a two-story building built with bricks and wood. Emperors in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) including Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong once visited there on their way to Mukden (Shenyang City) to worship their ancestors and left many poems and inscriptions. A plaque with four Chinese characters 'Yuan', 'Qi', 'Hun' and 'Mang' and a pair of couplets written by Qianlong still hangs on the lintel and columns of the hall. Poems from other famous literary figures are inscribed on the tablets which are embedded on the walls.
In front of the Hebei Laolongtou Great Wall Chenghai Pavilion is an ancient stone tablet which is inscribed with four Chinese characters 'Tian', 'Kai', 'Hai' and 'Yue'. It is about three meters (10 feet) high and one meter (three feet) wide. It is said that the stone tablet was established by Xue Rengui, a famous and legendary general in Tang Dynasty (618-907) who conquered Korea.
Reconstructed in 1988, the Nereus Temple is about 350 meters (0.2 mile) from the Laolongtou Great Wall. It consists of 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 being the main structures of the temple. Inside the temple are sculptures of Nereus, Goddess of Heaven, Eight Immortals and the Door Gods. A plaque inscribed by Qianlong hangs on the door lintel.
The Estuary Stone City was built by Qi Jiguang, a famous general of the Ming Dynasty. It is a city measuring about nine meters (30 feet) high and eight meters (26 feet) wide which extends approximately 22 meters (72 feet) into the sea. The city is built on natural reefs and huge rocks thrown into the sea to act as foundations. It once served as a defence fortification designed to resist the aggression of the minorities.
Jinglu Beacon Tower was built in 1565. Following extensive reconstruction, the beacon tower stands about 15 meters (49 feet) high. The tower has three rooms which are connected by six door openings and nine windows in all, making the rooms well ventilated. It functions as a defence system together with the Chenghai Pavilion, Nanhaikou (Southern Estuary) Pass.
The Ninghai City and the the Nanhaikou (Southern Estuary) Pass are also worth a visit. The Ninghai City was built in the Ming Dynasty. On the north and west city gates are two embrasured watchtowers guarding the South China Sea. The Nanhaikou (Southern Estuary) Pass is the No.1 Pass of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall according to the location order
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