Great Wall at MutianyuA ~ Z

Introducing the Great Wall at Mutianyu

Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is located in Huairou district, about 85 km northeast of Beijing. Mu means to long for; Tian means fields while Yu means a valley. In the past, the farmers lived in this area used to long for more fields to plant more things. The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is connected with Jiankou in the west and Lianhuachi in the east. As one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall, the Mutianyu Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier, defending the capital and Ming tombs.


The Great Wall at Mutianyu was built and restored in the early Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), on the remnants of a Wall originally built in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577). Reconstruction took place under the supervision of Xu Da, one of the founding generals of the Ming Dynasty, who was responsible for building a Wall from Shanhaiguan in the east to as far as Mutianyu. The Ming pass at Mutianyu was officially proclaimed in 1404, where it would serve as an important symbol of protection from marauding nomads from the north.

Reconstruction began in 1568 on 1000 kilometers of the Wall including Mutianyu. Responsibility was given to Qi Jiguang, a general who had built his credentials fighting Japanese pirates, and who took his responsibilities as a builder very seriously. Construction continued for many years, as the fortifications were built up with solid granite blocks, and included the construction of some of the larger defensive towers. The most recent renovation of the Wall at Mutianyu took place from 1982-1986, at the direction of the Beijing government. Rather than a defensive fortification, the Mutianyu Great Wall has been designated as a national tourist attraction, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Mutianyu Great Wall is a bit more rugged and far less crowded than the more famous Badaling Great Wall. There are abundant natural springs which feed a great variety of plants and trees. Over 96% of Mutianyu is covered by trees and orchards, keeping the air fragrant with chestnut blossoms in the spring and fresh all year long.


Built mainly from granite, the pass at Mutianyu is an appropriately unique section of the Great Wall. With a height of 7 to 8 meters, and width of 4 to 5 meters, as well as crenellations on both sides of the Wall, the section of the Wall at Mutianyu stretches for over 2.5 kilometers. Matching its military importance, the Mutianyu Great Wall has 25 watchtowers built at almost 100 meter intervals. This number of towers is much more than would be expected along the Wall, and is also highlighted by the particular form and structure unique to this section. The Zheng Guan Tai gate stands with three connected watchtowers, with the center tower rising above the flanking structures. While each tower has its own gate, the main watchtower gate is on the east side of the building, which is quite unusual. Other unique features in this section include the ‘Tail Wall’ which stretches out perpendicular to the Wall along a ridgeline for stronger defensive positioning. Invading nomads would use the ridgelines as they marched, to avoid being caught unawares in the brambles and trees below, and the positioning of the Great Wall along the ridgeline and these adjoining tail walls are recognition of the importance of this high ground.

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Zheng Guantai, also called Mutianyu Pass, is the most unique structure in the history of Great Wall construction. With three watchtowers standing next to each other, it was built in 1404, the second year of Emperor Yongle’s reign. The location of Zheng Guantai has a strong strategic importance; because to its north was the garrison of the nomads while to its south were the entrances to the Beijing City and Ming Tombs. The Pass is about 40 meters long, 30 meters wide and 20 meters high. Zheng Guantai is made of two floors with rooms in the base connected, which were used for storing food and stationing soldiers. The view from the Pass either to the outside of the Great Wall or inside is very clear and open.

Additional Information

Meng Jiangnv crying over the Great Wall

Among all legends and stories about the Great Wall, the most well-known one is probably the story of Meng Jiangnv crying at the Great Wall. Operas, ballads, and musical narrations featuring this story are widely spread among the Chinese people. The tale is almost known to every household in China and was even written into the text book. Legend has it that Meng Jiangnv’s husband Wan Xiliang was seized by emperor Qinshihuang’s army and sent to build the Great Wall. When autumn came, Mengjiangnv worried that her husband would suffer from the cold in the north, so she walked all the way to the construction site of the Great Wall, taking padded clothes which she had made for him. When she finally got to the Great Wall, she was told that her husband had died and his remains were buried under the Wall. Not knowing exactly where her husband’s body was buried, Meng Jiangnnv was in great sorrow. She cried three days and nights in a row and her wailing touched God. All of a sudden, several miles of the Great Wall collapsed and the remains of Wan Xiliang appeared.

Seigneurs fooled by the Beacon Tower

There is another Great Wall story that is well known all over China. It is called Seigneurs fooled by the Beacon Tower. It is a story happened in the Western Zhou Dynasty. There was a beautiful girl called Baosi who was presented to King You of the Zhou by the Kingdom of Ancient Bao. King You liked her very much, but there was a problem with Baosi. She was born to smile very little. In order to please and make her smile, King You light up the beacon tower to fool the seigneurs. Baosi did smile at the sight of the chaos created by the coming seigneurs. By the time they knew there was nothing going on in the Kingdom of Western Zhou and they were deceived by King You. All the seigneurs left with great anger. Later the Western Zhou was really invaded by the enemy and King You set the beacon tower on fire again to call for help. But no seigneurs came because they were afraid of being cheated again. Thus, King You was killed by the enemy and the Western Zhou came to an end.

Opening Hours



Entrance Fee: ¥ 45

Shuttle Bus: ¥ 15 (Two Ways)

Cable Car: ¥ 120 (Two Ways)

Toboggan: ¥120 (Two Ways)


Bohai town, Huairou district, Beijing


Getting There

It’s better to book a private car for round trip, Taxi drivers normally don’t go there

Travel Tips

Wear comfortable shoes, and the Wall is about 3-5 degrees colder than in the city

Avoid using big notes when buying things from the vendors

There are plenty of nice and clean restaurants on the way to Shuttle Bus, even Burger King

Last Updated

2018-05-04 09:46:27

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