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Qinhuangdao - Laolongtou (Old Dragon's Head)


 
The Ten-thousand-Li Great Wall,symbol of China, 1ike a huge dragon runs across vast deserts, through boundless grasslands and over towering mountains and finally extends into the sea. The section which enters the sea is the starting point of the Great Wall in the east-Old Dragon Head.


Old Dragon Head, 5 kilometers south of Shanhaiguan Pass, is an importantcomponent of the Great Wall. Old Dragon Head, Jiaoshan Great Wall, north of the pass, and Weiyuan Fort, east of the pass form three corners echoing with each other, guarding Shanhaiguan. In the early years of the Ming Dynasty, when Xu Da, the general, had Shanhaiguan Pass built, he chose the place where Old Dragon Head is as the point where the Great Wall extended into the sea. In the seventh year during the reign of the Ming Emperor Wanli( 1579 ), Qi Jiguang, Zongbing of Jizhen Town, had a stone city built with 23 meters on the sea. Within the stone city, there are Nanhaikou Pass, the first pass of Hebei Great Wall, Jinglutai, the first watch tower and Chenghailou ( Clear Sea Building ) of 10 meters high. Ai that time, Qi Jiguang had the stone city built to prevent Mongolian cavalry sneakng into the Central Plains during the ebb and dry seasons in winter. Its foundation in the sea is so firm that it has stood well against the tide of sea for hundreds of years. It is said that many iron pots have been deposited in the sea, with their openings facing the sea bottom so as to lessen the force against the stone city from sea waves. This unique building method has been recorded in history.


During 200 years from the early days of the Ming Emperor Hongwu to the end of the Ming Dynasty, Old Dragon Head was constantly reinforced and renovated. In the Qing Dynasty, because areas both inside and outside the Great Wall were united, the function of Old Dragon Head shifted from the military defense to a wonderful sea-watching for those emperors, generals, ministers and men of letters. Especially the Emperors of the Qing Dynasty, who regarded themselves as the incarnation of "dragon" and attached sublime meaning to their visit of the Old Dragon Head. Five emperors of the Qing Dynasty including Kangxi and Qianlong came to the Old Dragon Head several times, leaving many poems and calligraphy. It is a great pity that Old Dragon Head was the first one to be destroyed when the Eight-Power Allied Forces invaded Shanhaiguan in 1900. In 1984, Comrade Deng Xiaoping put forward the suggestion " Love China and Renovate the Great Wall ". Responding to his call, the people of Shanhaiguan renovated the stone city on the sea, Clear Sea Building, Jingwu Watch tower, Nanhaikou Pass and Ninghaicheng, restoring Old Dragon Head to its former majesty.


The most famous architecture of Old Dragon Head is Clear Sea Building, which is described as the following line " The Great Wall is connected with the sea while the seawater is connected with the sky ; Human beings climb the lofty building a hundred chi up from the sea"Clear sea Building is 14.5 meters high, 15.68 meters wide and 12 meters deep. It is a two-stored building made of brick and wood, with a double-eaved roof. There hanging on the building a huge horizontal board on which  ( Broad Mind ) four Chinese characters were in - scribed by Sun Chengzong, a famous scholar in the Ming Dynasty. Another horizontal board inscribed with  ( water and sky mixed together forming an indistinct vastness ) and a couplet inscribed on the building's pillar " The sun and the moon rise from here, the sky and the sea are very clear" were written by the Qing Emperor Qianlong. On the side walls of Clear Sea Building are many inlaid stone tablets, which are inscribed with poems composed by elnperors and men of letters when they visited the building.


Old Dragon Head is not only an ingenious military system which extends into the sea, but also a superb scenic spot and the only place of the Great Wall where the beauty of the pass, the mountain, the sea and the surrounding scenery form an integral entirety. Looking down from Clear Sea Building, you will see " the stone city on the sea " encircled by white waves that " come high and low, much like piles and piles of snow." Looking far into distance, you will have a broadmind and be filled with lofty sentiments at the sight of the blue sea connecting with the blue sky and the surging mighty waves striking against the towering mountain. What is more fascinating is that sometimes while wind blows violent waves on the thundering sea, and trees and grass on the shore respond to the spanking breeze, people on Clear Sea Building feel nothing of the storm at all. It is the wonderful scene, " Quiet Wind in the Pavilion at Sea",famous ever since ancient time. It is also said that you may see " pearls at sea " if you climb the building at night. In deep, quiet night, when there is no wind, on the sea surface facing the building, suddenly appear count - less sparkling stars sending forth dazzling and enchanting gleams. Some people say that it is caused by the mussels which Old Dragon Head is rich in. If those mussels open their shells and the exposed pearls catch light, the rarely marvelous spectacle will appear.


In front of the Clear Sea Building, there is an ancient stone tablet, 2.65 meters high and 0.7 meters wide, inscribed with only four Chinese character   ( Open Sky, Great Sea and Great Mountain ).These four characters, in simple and vigorous style, show vividly and incisively the imposing features of Old Dragon Head. It is said that the tablet was set up by Xue Rengui, a famous general in the Tang Dynasty, after he conquered Gaoli in the east. In 1900, Clear Sea Building was burned down by the Eight-Power Allied Forces when they invaded Shanhaiguan, the stone tablet being the only thing left. Later it was pulled down by the British Force when they built ammunition storehouse. Not until 1927, when General Zhang Xueliang came to swim in Old Dragon Head, was it discovered and set up again.


" The Ten-Thousand-Li Great Wall starts from Old Dragon Head, standing on the high place you can see far ahead. " Old Dragon Head, the cream architecture of the Great wall, together with the surging sea, leads people to walk back into the long river of history and to experience its ups and downs

  This part of the Great Wall is like a dragon drinking water, hence its name.

Four kilometers south of Shanhaiguan, Laolongtou is the easternmost end of the Great Wall, which stretches 23 meters into the sea like a dragon drinking water, hence its name. This part of the Great Wall was built in the 7 th year of Wanli reign in the Ming dynasty (1579) and was mended in the 7 th year of Kangxi reign in the Qing dynasty (1668). Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty would stop here for a visit on their way to Fengtian (Present - day Shenyang) to worship their ancestors, which makes the city even more worthy of its name. Standing at Laolongtou, facing the misty sea, visitors can easily picture Emperor Qin (221-207 BC), the first emperor of China, sending people into the sea here to find a drug that would give him immortality. You can see the Great Wall as it zigzags over the rolling mountains like a giant dragon to the north. Looking to the south you can see the vast expanse of sea stretching far to merge with the sky. At this moment you feel as if you could embrace the whole world.

It consists of the Estuary Stone City, Jinglu Watchtower, Wangshou Watchtower, Nanhaikou Pass, Chenghai Tower, Ninghai City and Binhai City.


The Estuary Stone City

The Stone City lying at the estuary was built by Qijiguang, a famous general of the Ming dynasty. It used to serve as a defense work to resist the aggression of Nuchen and Mongolia. The Stone City was based on natural reefs and constructed with huge rocks, which were rabbet and connected by cast iron chains. With battlements placed on walls the Stone City extends into the sea and is very grandiosity.

Jinglu Watchtower

Connecting with the Stone City in the north, Jinglu Watchtower, was built with granite bars and has a commanding height to block the sea. The straight-cut plane of the watchtower is an equilateral trapezium with a bottoms length of 11.7 meters and a top of 10.7 meters.

Wangshou Watchtower

Wangshou Watchtower and Jinglu Watchtower echo each other at a distance to form defense fortifications that outflank the Old Dragon's Head Bay. As a close defense work, the protruding tower is 25 meters-wide and 34 meters long, with parapet walls inside and a basement beneath that is over 20-meter-long .

Nanhaikou Pass

Nanhaikou Pass is the only pass of the Ming Great wall established on the seashore. With a height of 5.4 meters, this pass was supposed to be the commanding center of the Laolongtou Great Wall defense system.

Chenghai Tower

Chenghai Tower, 20 meters away from Nanhaikou pass, was built after Nanhaikou Pass was deserted. It functioned as a defensive arrow tower and retired after the Qing dynasty.

Ninghai City

Ninghai City is the city where Chenghai Tower locates. It is about 6.6-meter-high and 500-meter-long in circumference and has 2 gates, one in the west and another in the north. The city wall was built with bricks on a stone basement and was rammed with loess inside the walls. The city has now been rebuilt and is open to tourists.

Admission Fee: CNY 50
Bus Route: 25, 34

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