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Gubeikou Great Wall: where history comes to life

2014-06-27 13:34:19

(China Today)


Gubeikou Great Wall [Photo/]

Based on the understanding of the above historical phases, the following sites along the Gubeikou Great Wall are worth visiting.

The Linggong Temple, a shrine for Song marshal Yang Linggong (ca. 920s or 930s-986), is said to be the earliest Yang Family temple and has been well preserved. The local villagers in Gubeikou Town are mostly descendents of the soldiers who defended the Great Wall in the past; therefore, they keep up the tradition of paying respect to their ancestors by visiting this temple.

The 24-Eye Watchtower (so called because it has 24 lookout points or “eyes”) is said to be where Qi Jiguang worked to manage the construction of the Great Wall. Although there is no hard evidence of this, something about the imposing manner and great craftsmanship of this tower, which outshines others on the Panlong Mountain range, compels me to believe it.

The Seven Martyrs Monument at the foot of the Mao’er Mountain is also worth visiting. At the end of the combat at the Great Wall in 1933 the Chinese army had retreated and only seven warriors were left. Their stout resistance successfully countered many Japanese attacks. But in the end, the Japanese army threw grenades that killed all seven warriors. It is said that the monument was first built by the Japanese army, who took off their hats and saluted the dead heroes – warriors are respected by everyone, regardless of whether they are friend or foe. The green mountains of Gubeikou are the final resting place for many martyrs in history.

The Dahua Watchtower is on the best preserved part of the Great Wall built in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577). The unique charm of Gubeikou is that it is the confluence site of the Northern Qi Great Wall and that of the Ming Dynasty. This is of great significance in the area of Great Wall research. The two sections of the Great Wall are like two arms that cradle Gubeikou Town in the middle.

The railway in Gubeikou was used to transport Japanese soldiers into Beijing along the Wohu Mountain valley, so it is also an important site when reviewing the history of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. In the past, I often took a train from Xizhimen Station in central Beijing to Gubeikou. However, these days, the train no longer stops at the town. From the perspective of tourism and culture, this is a great pity.

However, Gubeikou still retains its ancient look and many old buildings are well preserved. The old local post office is still open, where tourists can buy a postcard of the Great Wall, affix a Great Wall stamp and get a “Gubeikou” postmark. I think that is the perfect souvenir of a trip to the area.

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