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Beijing Simatai Great Wall

Simatai Great Wall which by "startled, the danger, wonderful" is famous, located at within the boundaries of Beijing Miyun County's northeast ancient Beikou Town, the span 19 kilometers, altogether has watch tower 35, is our country only section retains the Ming Dynasty original condition the ancient Great Wall, is Qi Jiguang when this supervises constructs founds. This section of Great Wall already by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization determination was "the primitive Great Wall".

Gubeikou Town to the north-east of Miyun, Beijing. Simatai Great wall is exquisite in its details and is grand as a whole, which is the only part of ancient Great Walls with the original features of Ming Dynasty well reserved. Simatai Great Wall came into being under the famous general QI Jiguang's supervision and his original creation, during the Wanli period. It incorporates various characteristics of Ten-Thousand-Mile Great Wall and at the same time bears its unique features. Professor LUO Zhewen, the prestigious Great Wall expert, praised "Chinese Great Walls are the best all around the world, while Simatai deserves the best among all Chinese Great Walls." Up to now, Simatai Great Wall has been listed by UNESCO into the World Cultural Heritages.

It is 19 kilometers long with 35 watch towers and is definitely not for those feeling out-of-shape or unadventurous. It's 140 km from the city center, at a sea level of 986 meters. It's the most pristine part of the Great Wall. This piece of the Wall looks original. Some pieces even clapped. The average tourists is 250 per day and most of them are foreign tourists. If you hike for 10 km from Simatai Great Wall, you will get to Jinshanling Great Wall which belongs to Hebei Province.

Simatai is considered by many to be a very authentic and fascinating part of the Wall. Simatai Great Wall is divided by a pretty valley. The western part of the Wall is relatively flat and the 20 watch towers atop the Wall are all in good condition.

This is the part of the wall which is most photographed, and is said to resemble a golden dragon stretched out across the slope. The eastern part of the wall is even more spectacular but a little more steep and can (especially in the winter months) get quite slippery and dangerous. So, be careful and be prepared!Along this stretch are 15 watch towers and a beautiful marble gate engraved with lotus flowers. From the top of this stretch there are fantastic views of the surrounding countryside and the city.


To the east of the Jinshanling stretch of the Great Wall there lies the quiet and remote Simatai Great  Wall. The ruinous state of this part of the Wall gives it an air of authenticity that has earned it the reputation of being the most beautiful section of the Great Wall. Unlike the sections to be seen at Badaling or Mutianyu that have undergone extensive restoration, the wall at Simatai has received very little attention. Here, the wall really looks as one would expect it to look some 500 years after it was built during the Ming Dynasty. The local people are proud of this monument and proclaim that it was as a consequence of visiting Simatai that UNESCO was convinced the wall should be listed as a World Heritage site. It towers over the nearby villages and farmland as it winds its way like the spiny back of a dragon over the sharply clipped peaks of the mountains.

Because Simatai Great Wall has retained much of its original 500 year old features it offers a quite hazardous passage to those who wish to walk along it. Needless to say, the inherent dangers offer a challenge that is quite inresistable to dedicated hikers in quest of adventure. An additional attraction is that as Simatai is some 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the north-east of Beijing it is well beyond the reach of the huge crowds of tourists that throng the more popular and accessible parts of the Wall.

Enthusiasts, who like to study military architecture, find much to interest them along this 20 kilometer barrier as it appears to dance from east to west over the mountain ridges interrupted only by the presence of the Simatai reservoir that divides it in two. Here, those who are keenly interested can study and compare a wide range of watchtowers, blockhouses and platforms representative of the many styles to be found along the Great Wall.

Visitors have a choice of accessing the wall from either Jinshanling or Simatai. Most enter at Jinshanling for a fee of 30 Yuan and make their way to Simatai. It is at Simatai that the Wall takes the hiker upwards to the perilous Simatai ridge.

There are in total sixteen watchtowers set at intervals along this expanse and it will take about two hours to reach the twelfth watchtower. Beyond this point the condition of the stairs and walkways deteriorates and the passage becomes both steep and narrow which means that it is often safer to use the adjacent footpath rather than try to walk on the Wall itself. A lack of firm footholds creates quite a struggle and in places it may prove necessary to go on all fours in order to make any progress.

For 100 meters between the fourteenth and fifteenth watchtowers there is an incline at an 80 degree angle with only a single parapet wall. It is quite narrow compared with more substantial sections of the wall and in height it varies from two to four meters from its base. The terrain forms a natural barrier while the Wall gave the Chinese soldiery a combination of protection and an advantage of height from which to defend themselves against enemy attack. The defences are reinforced by rows of embrasured walls built vertically to the main body of the Wall so as to withstand any possible incursion by enemy soldiers. As this section of the Wall is so steep, it is known as the "Stairway to Heaven". The fifteenth tower has been named "The Fairy Tower" and is noted for its fine architectural features which include stone sculptures of twin lotus flowers on its arched doorways. Only the bravest hikers will climb the "Stairway to Heaven" but those who do and reach the sixteenth and highest tower will be rewarded with a breathtaking view. Known as 'Wang Jing Lou' [Watching Beijing Tower] the sixteenth watchtower with its elevation of 986 meters is the highest visitor attraction in the environs of Beijing. At night the lights of the city, when seen from the watchtower, are a wondrous sight to behold.

The descent can be made to the seventeenth watchtower and from there along the hill path to the exit gate.

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Hiking at Simatai can be challenging, but the energy put into traversing lofty peaks and precipitous terrain ----sometimes precariously close to cliff edges ----- is rewarded with unparalleled vistas.

Nowadays there is a cable car, with round trip tickets costing 50 yuan (US$7) and one-way tickets at 30 yuan, which serves as a drop-off point about 40 minutes on foot from the Simatai Great Wall. It could be a useful alternative if you have a sprained ankle or want to spend time wandering about the Great Wall at a more leisurely pace.

In addition, there is a toboggan ride from the Simatai Great Wall to the cable car, costing 30 yuan. This element of the Simatai experience is unnecessary and a waste of money, since anyone who wants to reach the cable car can walk directly to it via a flight of stairs.

For now, Simatai remains breathtaking and tranquil. By distancing yourself from the area dotted with cable cars meandering down to the car park, and turning your gaze towards the hills calmly undulating far into the distance, it is possible to imagine history springing back to life. The image of solitary soldiers manning watchtowers over the years is suddenly more tangible than it has ever been. It is within this serene environment that you can begin to see how these echoes of history have settled into the Chinese countryside, and Simatai begins to feel like your own piece of Great Wall history.

Safety Advice: Remember that much of Simatai is in a state of ruin. Consequently, you will be embarking on an adventurous hike. In parts, the way is steep and hazardous and is not for the feint hearted! It is not really suitable for more elderly people who should always be accompanied. As with all dangerous exploits it is advisable to have an experienced guide or someone who has been before to go with you. Also, take particular care not to loose your footing when stopping to take photographs! Never take unnecessary risks and keep to the recognised paths

Clothing:You will be visiting military fortifications that are built mainly along high, steep and exposed mountain ridges. You will need light, loose fitting, comfortable clothing that is waterproof, wind-resisting and air permeable. In autumn and winter, warm sweaters and gloves are recommended. Gloves should not be too thick as you will need to use your hands when climbing particularly steep sections of the route. Finally, footwear should be comfortable walking shoes or boots with soles that have a good grip. Avoid setting out with new and untried footwear so as to prevent discomfort and blisters.

Necessary Items: You should carry half a litre of water for each hour you intend to walk. Alkaline drinks may be substituted for part of your water ration. Do not take alcoholic drinks. A camera, films, a pocket flashlight, packed food and a garbage bag are other basics. When walking in a group, it is a good idea to take a length of nylon rope as a means of helping each other over difficult terrain.

Fees
Entrance Charge Cable Way Express Train to the Peak Slippery Rope plus Boat Boat
CNY 40 CNY 50
(round-trip)
CNY 30
(one-way)
CNY 30
(round-trip)
CNY 20
(one-way)
CNY 35 CNY 10
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