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Zhen Bei Tai (Pacify-the-north Tower)

The walls in Shaanxi are mainly distributed in Yulin, Yan'an and Weinan Cities. The total length measures more than 1,056 miles. Most of the walls were built in Wei, Qin, Sui, and Ming Dynasties. They are composed of city walls, terraces, barracks, beacon towers and watch posts. Because of the long history, natural disasters and human destruction, all that remains of the original walls is the main part made of rammed earth. In history, Yulin Wall was famous and Zhenbeitai was known as the first tower on the Great Wall.

Yulin, north of Shaanxi, is located in the contiguous areas of Loess Plateau and the grasslands in Inner Mongolia. Throughout the ages, central China and the nomadic tribes ceaselessly fought for possession of this area of important strategic significance. Thus it became the necessary region where these two nationalities built their defensive works. Generally speaking, walls in Yulin belong to six historic periods.

Zhen Bei Tai (Pacify-the-north Tower)

Located on Mount Hongshan, five kilometers north of Yulin City, stands the Zhen Bei Tai Tower. This was built in 1607 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) for the protection of the Hongshan Market Place for it was here that Mongol and Han people met to trade their goods.

It is a four-storied square tower, 30 meters high, measuring 320 meters around its base. The four storeys decrease in size towards the top and between each storey there is a staircase to enable the soldiers to ascend to the top. There was a watch shed at the top of the tower from where the soldiers could receive and send signals but this collapsed during the Qing period.

The tower has been well restored and is reputed to be "The First Tower of the Great Wall". A climb to the top provides visitors a panoramic view of the surrounding hills. The scene is one of desolation where vegetation is sparse and it is difficult to appreciate that this was once a scene of great activity. The deserts sands are slowly but surely swallowing up what little is left of the Wall. There are the ruins of two small fortresses near Zhen Bei Tai. They were both protection for market trading places during the Ming Dynasty.

A walk of one kilometer to the southwest from Zhen Bei Tai will take you to another site to visit - Hong Shi Xia (Red Rock Gorges). Inscriptions on the cliff face are very attractive.

From  Yulin city, take the NO.3   public bus going north. Tell the driver to stop at  Zhenbeitai Tower. It will take about 25 mins. (from near the North Bus Station) to get there. Once you cross the concrete bridge and before a coal-covered dirt road, which takes about a minute later, you will see a paved path to the right. On the left is several residential houses and restaurants. The driver should drop you off here. Up the path is the ticket booth - get the ticket here. If you are interested in the Hongshixia (Red Stone Gorge), get off here as well. There is a road through the houses on the left. A sign on a wall points the direction to the gorge. Just walk the one kilometer there.

Entrance Ticket:   20 yuan.

There were no toilets when I was there in the summer of 2006. But a large one was under construction. By now it should have been completed. Food and drinks are available in the houses by the main road, if you do not want to bring your own.