Must-visit Scenic Spots in Beijing — the Badaling Great Wall


The Badaling Great Wall is located at the northern end of Guangou Ancient Path, Jundu Mountain, Yanqing District, Beijing. It is an important part of the Great Wall, a great defense project in ancient China, and a pass of the Ming Great Wall. The Badaling Great Wall is an important strategic pass of Juyong Pass, and the ancient proverb says, “The steepness of Juyong Pass does not lie in the pass but the Badaling”.

The Badaling section of the Ming Great Wall was called a "natural chasm" and was one of the eight scenes of Juyong Pass in Ming Dynasty. The Badaling Great Wall is the first section of the Ming Great Wall open to tourists. The Badaling scenic area focuses on the Badaling Great Wall, and has built fully functional modern tourism service facilities such as the Badaling Hotel and the China Great Wall Museum inscribed by former President Jiang Zemin.

The Badaling scenic area is the National Civilized Scenery Tourist Area Demonstration Site, and is a world-famous tourist attraction due to its magnificent landscape, perfect facilities and profound cultural and historical connotation. Starting from July 29, 2016, free tickets are available for the active servicemen and disabled servicemen who come to the Badaling Great Wall.

According to the Records of the Grand Historian of China and the survey of antiquarians, the Great Wall was built in the Badaling area during the Warring States Period, and now the wrecked walls and beacon towers still can be seen, basically the same as the Ming Great Wall. It is recorded that Jundu and Juyong passes were once built. According to the Commentary on the Waterways Classic in the Northern Wei Dynasty, Juyong Pass was located in Juyong County, and hence came the name. The pass walls were built with stones along the cliff valley in the south of it, which was a big project through very arduous efforts... The water was flowing toward the south to the ancient Jundu Mountain. Therefore, some experts believe that Juyong Pass was built in Badaling in the Han Dynasty.

The Northern Wei Dynasty once built the Great Wall in the Badaling area 1500 years ago. According to the Biographic Sketches of Emperor of the Book of Wei, the Great Wall, known as "Jishang Saiwei" (the Great Wall built around the capital, serving as a military facility for the defense of the capital) was built in the north of Pingcheng (now Datong), the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty, in the seventh year of Emperor Tuoba's reign (446 AD), extending from Jundu Mountain (in the Badaling area) in the east to the bank of the Yellow River in the west. Later, in the sixth year of Emperor Tianbao's reign (555 AD) in the Northern Qi Dynasty, the Great Wall was built again, extending eastwards from Datong in the west to the sea through Jundu Mountain.

The Badaling Great Wall was built in the 18th year of Emperor Hongzhi's reign (1505 AD) in the Ming Dynasty, and was restored in the reign of Emperor Jiajing and Emperor Wanli. Its west section is broader than the east section, forming the trapezoid. The east and west gate towers defend the Badaling Great Wall, respectively hanging the plaque inscribed “Juyong Waizhen” (strategic town outside Juyong Pass) in the 18th year of Emperor Jiajing's reign (1539 AD) and “Beimen Suoyao” (northern spot of great military importance) in the 10th year of Emperor Wanli's reign (1582 AD). Both adopting the masonry structure, the two gate towers have a platform on the gate arch respectively, with passages connecting defensive forts on the north and south side of the platform, and crenels around the platform. A total of 1,316 beacon towers have been built.

The Badaling Great Wall typically shows the steepness and magnificence of the Great Wall. As the barrier to Beijing, it is very steep with overlapping mountains and is of strategic importance. The magnificent city walls extend southward and northward into the range of high mountains, without the end. The Great Wall stretches out on both sides along the mountain. The Chinese words Tian Xian ("utmost danger") inscribed by the ancient people on the cliff accurately describe the strategic military importance of the location.

Recommendation of Major Tourist Attractions

Looking toward Beijing Rock

Looking toward Beijing Rock is located outside the east gate tower of the Badaling Great Wall, and is in the south of the gate tower inscribed "Juyong Waizhen". The Chinese words Wang Jing Shi (Looking toward Beijing Rock) were inscribed on the natural granite with the height of 1 meter and length of 15 meters.

Tian Xian Inscription

Tian Xian Inscription is located inside the east gate tower and on the cliff which is on the upper right of the Bear Park. The Chinese words Tian Xian ("utmost danger") were inscribed by Yanqing Officer, Tong En, on a flat cliff in the 15th year of Emperor Daoguang's reign (1835 AD) in the Qing Dynasty, and carved by Liu Zhenzong.

Music Playing Gorge

Music Playing Gorge is located at the foot of the Five Ghosts' Heads Hill, and is one of the best scenes in Guangou.


The Badaling Great Wall was originally a pass, and later was built into a barrier fortress. From the third year of Emperor Longqing's reign (1569 AD) in the Ming Dynasty to the 10th year of Emperor Wanli's reign (1582 AD), barriers were built along various passes, and border towns, barrier walls and horse-defending walls were built on the mountains on either side of the passes. Later the Great Wall was built with watch towers and beacon towers being built on it. It extends from Chuancao Huading, Shifo Temple, the eastern end of Qinglong Bridge, the western end of Qinglong Bridge, Wangguayu, Badaling, Huamuliang, Yujiachong, Heidougu to Shixiayu, with the length of about 12 kilometers. The Badaling Great Wall, barrier fortress, city walls, fortresses and Juyong Pass in the middle of Guangou constitute the complete military defense system of Beijing in the Ming Dynasty.

Turnoff Castle

According to the History of Yanqing County, it could be divided into the west road from Huailaiwei, Yulin Post, Tumu Post, Jiming Post to Xuanfu (now Xuanhua) and the north road covering Yanqing County, Yongningwei and Sihaizhibao, for which it is known as the "Turnoff Castle". According to archaeological reports, it was built in the 30th year of Emperor Jiajing's reign (1551 AD) in the Ming Dynasty, and was finally completed more than 30 years later. It looks like an irregular rectangle, with the middle broader than the both ends. It was built along the mountain, with the north being on the slope of the mountain. The whole castle is 510 meters long from east to west, and 185 meters wide from north to south, shaped like a ship. It covers a total area of about 83,000 square meters, and the city wall, which is made of stone bricks, lime and clay, is 8.5 meters high. Horse roads were built on the castle, the crenel, watching holes and shooting holes were built on the outer parapet walls, and two beacon towers were built on the southern walls. The construction of the city walls was divided into two periods. In the early period, the inner walls were built with rammed earth and the outer masonry walls were built with stones and lime; in the later period, the original city walls were reinforced with ashlar and bricks.

Ancient Cannons

The five iron cast cannons are displayed near the ramp at the entrance of the Badaling Great Wall. The cannon was one of the most advanced weapons at that time. Among them, the biggest and most powerful one is 2.85 meters long with the caliber of 105 millimeters. The shooting range can reach over 1 kilometer. It was made in the 11th year of Emperor Chongzhen's reign (1638 AD) in the Ming Dynasty, and engraved with the Chinese words "granted to the Shenwei Great General" on the cannon body. In 1958, the cannon was moved here from Zhangbao more than 10 kilometers away from the east of the Badaling Great Wall. The other four smaller cannons had been excavated during a Great Wall renovation project in 1957. At that time, hundreds of shells from the Ming Dynasty were also extracted. According to the records of Wu Bei Zhi, "The ancient people shot stones with a catapult with wooden support shaped like a squatting tiger. Later they used cannon, which was short but thick. It was named Hudun Pao (Squatting Tiger Cannon) and known as Tianji Cannon, to shoot shrapnels." From these, we know the weapons at that time were very powerful.

Barrier Fortress

A temple is built outside the east gate of the Badaling Great Wall — the Temple of Watching Beijing, where a grand stone Buddhist statue stood inside. A memorial archway inscribed "Qu Hu Wan Li", meaning driving out the northern and western nationalities in ancient times, is built outside the west gate. When the Barrier Fortress was built by Border Affairs Officer and Officer of the Supreme Judiciary Wu Yiguan in the 18th year of Emperor Hongzhi's reign (1505 AD), the temple and the memorial archway were removed. The Barrier Fortress has east and west gates. The foundation of the west gate was built with more than 10 layers of granite ashlar, with large city wall bricks on the top. The city wall is more than 20 meters wide, 17 meters thick and 7.8 meters high. Covering an area of 280.17 square meters, the rectangular gate tower on the top is 19.8 meters long and 14.15 meters wide, with crenels built on the outer parapet walls. A watch tower was respectively built on both sides of the gate tower, 30-40 meters away from the city tower. The two watch towers were connected by city walls, and can support the Barrier Fortress in pinning down enemies. The north and south city walls, perpendicular to the west gate, are built on the mountain ridges, with the west higher in altitude than the east, and met in the east gate, forming the U-shape. The city wall is 3.3 meters thick and 7.6 meters high, with the perimeter of 2,070 meters. The east gate is 63.9 meters away from the west one, and the area of the Barrier Fortress is about 5,000 square meters. The plaques inscribed with “Juyong Waizhen” (strategic town outside Juyong Pass) in the 18th year of Emperor Jiajing's reign (1539 AD) and “Beimen Suoyao” (northern spot of great military importance) in the 10th year of Emperor Wanli's reign are still well preserved.

The City Wall

The city wall of the Badaling Great Wall is 6-9 meters high, and the plane is shaped like a trapezoid, with the bottom of 6.5-7.5 meters wide and the top of 4.5-5.8 meters wide. The top of the city wall is broad and flat, and can accommodate "five horses running in parallel or ten persons walking in parallel". The middle line of the wall is towards the outer wall, which is higher than the inner wall.

Watch Tower

A total of 43 watch towers are built in the Badaling Great Wall. They are all quite similar but have their own characteristics. Some have patrol platforms and others have two layers, of which the upper layer has crenels and shooting holes, while the lower layer is for storage of goods and accommodation of soldiers. The distance between towers depends on the mountain terrain. They are all of masonry structures, and the ceilings of the first and second layers are of arch structure, with stairs between different layers. Shooting holes, watching holes and drain openings are built in both layers, and the crenel is built in the top, projecting from the wall. A total of 16 watch towers such as the four towers in the south and those in the north as well as the fifth tower in the north have been restored.

The four watch towers in the south and those in the north. The northern and southern end of the Barrier Fortress respectively have four watch towers, which are the first section open to tourists. Both ends have larger elevation difference and steeper slopes, and the watch towers on them rise straight up successively from low to high, echoing each other from afar. From the Barrier Fortress to the four watch towers in the south, the city wall is 685.8 meters long and the height rises 127 meters, with an average rise of one meter for every six meters. From the third tower and the fourth one, the mountain is very steep and the winding city wall is about 500 meters long, with a slope of 70 degrees at the steepest location.

From the Barrier Fortress to the four watch towers in the north, the city wall is 767.5 meters long, and the height rises 155 meters. It is longer and flatter than that in the south. The third tower is shaped like a saddle. Tourists firstly climb down to the bottom of the saddle and then climb more than 100 steps up to the fourth tower. The Great Wall among the eight watch towers was restored in the 1950s. Each of the four watch towers in the north originally has two layers. All of them have been restored except the upper layer of the third tower. The upper layers of the first and second towers in the south have not been restored yet. The third tower in the south originally has a room for accommodation, which was not restored, with the plinth remained. There was originally an inscribed stone tablet recording the construction and renovation process of each tower, but now only the base of the tablet is remained. The hinges and the holes for door bar of some watch towers are still visible.

The fifth tower in the north. The fifth tower boasts the most arches. It is 9.25 meters long and 9.34 meters wide, with two layers. When tourists enter the first layer, they will see many arches, with four rows of bricks in each side, and each brick stack is connected by the arch to another. More than 30 arches support the ground of the second layer.

The sixth tower in the north It boasts the largest area. It is 12.6 meters long and 8.5 meters wide, with the area for the first layer of about 100 square meters. There are seven rows of brick stacks in the long side and four rows in the wide side. The top forms a square corridor shape, leaving a space in the middle to form a rectangular patio. Tourists can climb the stairs from the patio up to the top.

The eighth tower in the north. As the highest watch tower of the Badaling Great Wall, with the elevation of 888 meters, it is the best place to overlook the Great Wall, and is also known as the platform for viewing the sun. It has two layers, with stairs. On the first layer, there are six narrow windows for shooting arrows on the side where soldiers are ready to fight with enemies, with the largest number among all towers. The Great Wall from the Barrier Fortress to the eighth tower in the north is more than 1,500 meters long, with a relative height of 228 meters.

The watch towers with rooms for accommodation. Two restored watch towers have rooms for accommodation, i.e. the tenth tower in the north and the sixth tower in the south. The room is built on the cabin on the second layer, with gable roof, carved windows and red column.

Beacon Towers

Beacon towers are also known as beacon fire towers. There is respectively one beacon tower on the east and west mountains of the Badaling Great Wall. The beacon towers are five zhang (equal to 3.33 meters) high, and surrounded by a castle, 1.5 zhang high, with suspending towers and ramparts on the top, trenches and suspension bridges on the floor, and traps of collapsing pits in the periphery. The water cabinets filled with ice in winter and water in summer are placed on the doorway. No stairs but rope ladders are built for going up and down. Two blunderbusses and cannons and 10 soldiers are provided on each tower. They are guarded by the garrisons in the castle, with an elaborate defense network formed. The method of lighting a beacon for the warning of coming enemies was implemented in the second year of Emperor Chenghua's reign (1466 AD) in the Ming Dynasty, that is, using a beacon and a cannon for more than 100 enemies, two beacons and two cannons for more than 500 enemies, three beacons and three cannons for more than 1,000 enemies, four beacons and four cannons for more than 5,000 enemies and five beacons and five cannons for 10,000 enemies.

Wall Platform

The Wall Platform refers to a platform that is slightly higher than the top of Great Wall, with battlements, crenels and shooting holes built. It was a place for patrol by ancient soldiers, and also a defensive area for armies during wars in old times. For example, the platform on the top of the Barrier Fortress of the Badaling Great Wall is the wall platform.

Fighting Castle

The cannon on the fighting castle, originally named "Magic Cannon to Defend the Northern Border", is built on the roads of strategic military importance or regions with dangerous terrain along the Great Wall. The fighting castles, serving as strongholds, vary in size and may have one layer, two layers or three layers. The castles which can store weapons, ammunition and other strategic supplies essential for battle play an even more important role than the watch tower. According to the Records of Four Towns and Three Passes by Liu Xiaozu in the Ming Dynasty, under the planning and supervision of Qi Jiguang, a total of 1,200 watch towers and fighting castles were built along the Great Wall from Shanhai Pass to Beijing (it was originally planned to build 3,000 towers and castles). When a war broke out, soldiers in these fighting castles could occupy a commanding position and use fire and cannons to hit enemies. In general, 30 soldiers were needed to guard the platform and another 30 to guard the crenel in a fighting castle in six teams, and 300 jin (a unit of weight equal to 1/2 kilogram) of gunpowder were also needed. In addition, the castles also stored divine arrows, iron wands, large amounts of stones as well as food and water for a month. These exquisitely made fighting castles can be guarded or can be used to attack enemies, and can also combine closely with the military facilities on the Great Wall such as wall platforms and watch towers to form dense fire nets, which can greatly enhance the combat effectiveness and effectively prevent enemies' attack. They play a very important strategic and tactic role in military defense.

Traffic Route

Self-guided route: Driving from Madian Bridge on the North 3rd Ring to Badaling Expressway until to the exit of the scenic area

The Badaling Great Wall is located in Yanqing District in the northwest of Beijing, about 80 kilometers away from the city center. Tourists can drive on the expressway from the city center to the Badaling Great Wall. They can also take a tour bus with an hour's ride. The tour bus departs every morning from the east of Qianmen in Beijing. The round-trip fare is RMB 90 per person.

Bus: Taking Line 2 to Exit A (NW) or B (SE) of Jishuitan Station, walking to the back of Desheng Gate and taking Bus 877 to the foot of the Badaling Great Wall. The fare in cash is RMB 13 per person, and that for bus cards is only RMB 6.5. It will be a 2.5-hour journey without stop.

Running time: 6:00 - 12:00 (note: Bus 919 has been rerouted and doesn't arrive to the Great Wall; please don't get on it!)

Tour bus: Taking Tour Bus 8 (to the Badaling Station)