In Pictures

Six beautiful sections of the Great Wall of China

Online Desk

18 Sep 2023 15:06 PM

The Mutianyu and Jiankou sections of the wall are about 25 kilometres in length.

Work on China’s Great Wall began more than 2,500 years ago, its origins dating back to China’s Spring and Autumn Period of around 770 BCE to 476 BCE.

Various sections were added in subsequent eras as competing dynasties and factions sought to exert their control. Work eventually stopped in the 17th century. While certain sections of the Great Wall have been incredibly popular among tourists, many parts have slipped into obscurity, disrepair and sometimes oblivion.

Yongtai Turtle City

The Turtle City, built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as part of the Great Wall’s “Yellow River Defense Line,” was completed in 1608 and was home to around 2,000 infantrymen and 500 cavalry units during peak use.

Today, this fortress city is located in the Sitan Township of Jingtai County in north central Gansu province.


Mutianyu and Jiankou are two parts of the same Stone Dragon – two contiguous sections of the Great Wall that together stretch for roughly 25 kilometres along Beijing’s mountaintops.


Bataizi village sits just inside the Motianling section of the Great Wall and is home to the ruins of a Gothic church built in 1876 under the direction of a German missionary.

Laoniuwan (aka the Old Ox Bend Great Wall)

As the locals say, Laoniuwan is where the Great Wall and the mighty Yellow River shake hands.

The Laoniuwan Fortress was built in 1467, while the most famous tower of the Great Wall in this area, Wanghe Tower (literally meaning river-watching tower), was constructed in 1544.

Fairy Tower

Construction on the Great Wall in Simatai began in 1373. It was expanded and reinforced periodically throughout the Ming Dynasty.

The Fairy Tower is one of the best-known towers of the wall at Simatai but also one of the least visited due to how difficult it is to access.


Constructed during the reign of Emperor Jiajing (1507-1567), this single-wall section stands seven meters tall in some spots – no small feat considering it was made by piling stones.

It’s located just across the road from the town of Dushikou, in Chicheng in Hebei province.

The piled-stone wall at Dushikou is unique, as many other sections of the Great Wall close to Beijing were constructed using kiln-fired bricks.

Story and visuals by Alex Sherr, CNN



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