Jiayu Pass and Jiayuguan Fortress


The Jiayu Pass is located in Gansu Province between Mount Heishan and the Qilian Mountains. The Jiayu Pass is said to be the most magnificent pass not only on the Great Wall of China, but also in the world. The Jiayu Pass was the western starting point of the Great Wall of China in the Ming Dynasty, and it was best preserved of all Great Wall passes through 168 years of construction and renovation.Together with the Shanhai Pass in the east, the Jiayu Pass (Jiayuguan) is one of the most famous passes on the Great Wall of China. The Silk Road that linked China with the west once ran here. In 1987, the Jiayu Pass was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Jiayu Pass is located in Gansu Province. Jiayuguan Fortress was built on a terrace between Mount Heishan and the Qilian Mountains, and thanks to this ideal location, traffic between east and west could be controlled from here.


The Jiayu Pass was built 630 years ago, almost in the Ming Dynasty, which was 9 years earlier than the Shanhai Pass. At the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, the first emperor appointed Feng Sheng as general and had him defend the territory with his soldiers in the northwest. Then the general selected the canyon on Jiayu Mountain in Gansu Province as the optimal place to build a pass and the Jiayuguan Fortress. The Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty at the Jiayu Pass had its western beginning. The towers of the pass were carefully planned and the pass is still surrounded by a trench so that one could defend oneself better and more effectively against the enemies. At the foot of the fortress city, a spring gushed which provided enough drinking water for people and horses and also irrigated the fields nearby.

The North and South Sides

Jiayuguan consists of three lines of defense, an inner and an outer city and a moat. The inner city has a trapezoidal plan. The height of the surrounding wall is 11 meters. A stele with four characters can still be seen 100 meters outside the west gate of the fortress city of Jiayuguan. The inscription means “Strong fortress under the sky”. The north and south sides of the complex are connected to the Great Wall.

A legend about the Great Wall of China tells of the careful planning of the Jiayuguan Fortress. Accordingly, the builder of the facility was asked how many stones would be needed for the construction, and he gave the precise number. The officer doubted his answer and asked him the question again. The builder then added a single brick. When the construction of Jiayuguan Fortress was finished, a single brick was left, which was loosely placed on one of the gatehouses, where it can still be found today.

Today the area where the Jaiyu Pass is located has already become a city and has given Jiayuguan its name to this city. This magnificent structure, which is already a witness of history, will remain there for a long time to watch the future of the area.

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