Silk Road China – Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall, Gansu

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Starting Point of the Ancient Great Wall

Another important landmark in Silk Road China is Jiayuguan Fort, also known as Jiayuguan Great Wall. It is located 6 km from Jiayuguan City of Gansu Province.  It is the most magnificent and best-preserved pass among the total over one thousand passes along the Great Wall of China.

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Why Jiayuguan Was Built?

Jiayuguan, the “guan” mean “pass”/ or “check point” in English. It was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), taking 168 years to build, under the supervision of Feng Sheng, a founding general of the Ming Dynasty. Jiayuguan Great Wall was built as a fortress at first to protect the nomadic enemy coming from the desert valley and mountains area. This is the perfect location for military defensive base at the narrow point of Hexi Corridor as it is very hard to penetrate in.  At the same time, the Jiayuguan Pass had also played a key focal point of the ancient Silk Road. Foreign travelers and traders came from the West, such as Europe & Persia and entered inner China through Jiayuguan. China goods were also transported to Persia and Europe from this pass. In shorts, this is the place where West meet East – cultural changes of religion, art and custom happened here.

Follow my 10 tips to explore Jiayuguan Great Wall

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

1.Visit Jiayuguan Great Wall Museum First

We visited the museum in Jiayugaun before exploring the Great Wall. The museum is located at the east gate of the scenic area. It is crucial to visit museum first before exploring other part of Jiayuguan, so that you have a better understanding and background of Jiayuguan Pass.  We learn the architectural history of this huge defense line from the Silk Road China map and paintings. We also take a look at the old weapons used to chase away the nomadic Xiongnu tribe.

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Statue of Feng Sheng – General who supervise the making of Jiayuguan Pass, located outside the museum.

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Weapon used in Ming Dynasty

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Ancient Silk Road Map

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Guy with Ancient Guard Costume

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

2.Uneven Path at the Gate of Jiayuguan

When you walk through the gate, please take a close look at the path at the bottom.  You will notice the uneven path which was caused by the wheels of the horse carriage many thousand years ago.  The stones on the ground are still original.

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

3. Climb Up Jiayuguan Tower

Don’t forget to climb up to the top of the Tower and have a look at the structure of this brilliant defense system.

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

4.Steep Slope Up The Tower – Understand Why?

The original path to go up is only steep slope and without stairs.  The stairs made recently for tourists to go up.  The steep stairs back then was to prevent enemy from moving up easily with their horses or with their heavy weapons.  The soldiers will throw heavy weapons with spike to roll down to kill the enemy when the enemy try to climb up and invade the tower.


Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

5.Legend Of The Last Brick

There is an extra brick at the top of the tower here. This is an interesting story being pass down by generations.

The talented architect named Yi Kaizhan was tasked to build this fort.  After finishing his plans, Yi announced that it would take exactly 99, 999 bricks to build the Jiayuguan structure, no more and no less. Yi’s supervisor thought Yi was too arrogant and threatened if Yi’s calculation were off, Yi would be punished. When construction was completed, there was an extra brick found unused. The supervisor wanted to punish Yi but quick-witted Yi explained that this extra brick had been placed by some supernatural being during the night to guard Jiayuguan and prevent its collapse. Hence the brick remains to this day.

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

6.Quality Control of Bricks

Go spot the bricks with surname printed at the bricks.  In ancient time workers who made the bricks has to print their surname for quality control.

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

7. Stare at Gobi Desert

Take a look at the Gobi desert from the top of the Jiayuguan Tower.

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

8.Various Activities in Jiayuguan For Tourists

Various activities were offer here, such as camel rides and the chance to do some archery, shooting arrows at the invading Mongol hordes.

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

9.Opera Tower

The Opera Tower is located near the east barbican outside the inner city. In ancient time, soldiers and traveling merchants often kill their boredom by watching operas here. You will notice the murals of the eight immortals at the Opera Tower. Look carefully at the murals and you will see some elements from the west depicting at the mural.

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

10.Temple of Guan Yu 

The temple of Guan Yu is located outside the east wall city, it is a place where people pay special honor to Guan Yu, an invincible general of the Kingdom of Shu (221 – 263).

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Final thoughts :

A good 2 hours is enough to explore Jiayuguan Great wall also considered to be the ending point of the great wall.  Many foreign tourist did not know about the Jiayuguan Great Wall compare to famous Beijing Great Wall.  Jiayuguan is another place to see the great wall of China.

There are electric car to bring you around in this huge complex. My suggestion is to visit the museum first as it will give you some background information about the fort.
If you have an experience guide to explain you all the things you see in this fort, then it should be a very interesting trip. If you don’t, just follow my 10 tips here. It cover basically everything you need to know in Jiayuguan Fort.

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall

Silk Road China - Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall, Zhangye

Nearby Attractions Along Silk Road China

41 Replies to “Silk Road China – Top 10 things to see in Jiayuguan Great Wall, Gansu”

    1. Dear Queen,
      China is one of the world’s most fascinating travel destinations, both for a look into its past and for a chance to ponder its future. It is worth to pay a visit to see this sleeping giant. I think China is waking up now and changing faster than any place on earth so it is best to go before any of it history disappears.

    1. Dear Hawk

      One thing that make China so special is the impressive ancient heritage. I think China ancient treasures exceed all other countries for size and number — from ancient palaces to the Great Wall, city walls, buried armies, canals, pagodas, temples, and giant Buddhas. And Jiayuguan Walls is only one of them. 🙂

  1. Wow! What a great place to visit. I haven’t been to china but with this post, you’ve catch a very good perspective of how rich the history and culture of our Chinese people.

    1. Dear Diana,
      Thanks for your kind comment. China is huge and has too many to offer, the breath taking landscape and the rich history. Jiayuguan is one of the incredible ancient site which is well known along ancient Silk Road. You got to learn a lot from the Silk Road history including China history and culture. I am sure anyone who traveled to China will take away incedible memories.

  2. Loved the place. China really have a rich culture and history. This is a must place to visit when going to this big country.

    1. Dear Emma,

      China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations with thousands and thousands of years of continuos history. One should travel while the RMB(Yuan) China money is still very affordable. With RMB is appreciating, the RMB makes travel more expensive especially to big cities in China.

    1. Dear itsahotmess04,
      Thanks for your comment. There are photo opportunities everywhere in Jiayuguan Great Wall. If you are lucky you may see workers in thin tinfoil-like armor march around in formation which make the Jiayuguan has more ancient vibes. Carnival-like games offer a chance to “hit the nomadic enemy’” with a bow and arrow. Or you can try a short camel rides through the Gobi Desert near Jiayuguan. Plenty of things to do beside just photo shooting.

    1. Dear Tammy,
      Jiayuguan Pass marks the symbolic end of the Great Wall, the western gateway of China and one of the defining points of the Silk Road. The work done in the fort is simply so details back in many thousand years ago.

  3. Thank you for sharing this post. Years ago I had a penpal (dating myself here) who was from China. It is nice to see you sharing the rich history and important landmarks like Silk Road’s Jiayuguan Fort, also known as Jiayuguan Great Wall.

    1. Dear Valerie,
      Thanks for your comment. It is so lovely to have some penpal, you get to learn about thier culture and history. You also gained a little perspective of China.

  4. There looks like so many great places to visit here. China looks absolutely beautiful indeed. I hope you had a great time visiting.

    1. Dear Elizabeth,
      There are so many great places to visit in China and one of the greatest is Great Wall China. And along Great Wall China there are several important passes/ fort/ check point/watch point. One of them is Jiayuguan, also the greatest human fortifications. Jiayuguan is well-known as “the Impregnable Pass under the Heaven”. It is the most magnificent and best-preserved pass among all the other passes along Great Wall situated at the route of Silk Road.

    1. Thanks for your comment Tizzy,

      Jiayuguan Pass is a firm and immense military pass which covers more than 33,529 square meters and consists of inner city, outer city and a moat. Just like what you said ful of culture and truly beautiful sites!

  5. I love visiting historic places and museums, so this is a dream for me! Great guide to visiting the Jiayuguan Great Wall.

    1. Dear Ann,
      Thanks for your kind comment.One need plenty of imagination to conjure up visions of the Silk Road! I would say Jiayuguan Fort/pass is an important part of Silk Road lore and worth a visit for any tourists who is on Silk Road.

    1. Dear Melanie,
      Thanks for your comment. The building of the Jiayuguan Fort dates back to the Ming Dynasty, and to this day, the Jiayuguan Fort is still a well-preserved symbol of a rich history.

    1. Dear Hillcitybride,
      China Great wall has many pass/check point along the Great Wall route and Jiayuguan pass mark the ending of Great Wall. The one you saw should be in Beijing great wall which is also the most popular among foreign tourists and crowded too. Jiayuguan has lesser foreign tourists and for someone who is doing Silk Road China.

    1. Dear Shubhada,
      Thanks for your comment. The inspiring landscapes and 5,000 years of culture are just few reason to explore China. All you need is just pack a comfy shoes to start this incredible journey.

    1. Dear Kevin,
      There is a temple in Jiayuguan pass also know as Temple of Guan Yu. Most importantly you get to see the architecture of this fort/defence system back in the olden days.

  6. What a beautiful place to visit, I really like the architecture and the look of the Jiayuguan Great Wall, so many interesting facts and history. Your pictures are so amazing, would love to visit China, adding this to the list.

    1. Dear Preet,
      Thank you for your kind comment. I actually prepared my Qipao/chinese traditional dress to match with the ancient architecture of Jiayuguan Great Wall. Hoping to have a little ancient vibes 🙂

  7. That was a fascinating read. I have only heard of the great wall, nothing more. You have so many interesting facts like the stones under the pass being the same original ones used. This is a must see if ever I get to China.

    1. Dear Gladys,
      Thanks for your comment. You are right, many people know about Great Wall, the portion that is located near Beijing. In fact Great Wall is very long, 21,196 km. There are many pass/check point and Jiayuguan is one of them. Jiayuguan mark the end portion and also one of the well preserved pass till now. The stones before entering the pass are still original and you can see the path/stones are uneven because of frequent use of horse carriage. This is one of the important thing to note when visiting Jiayuguan, not just the architecture side of it.

  8. Jiayuguan Great Wall, Gansu I such a wonderful place to visit. I would love to go here one day with the whole family.

  9. So pretty! I would love to visit China someday. People sometimes see international travel as this big scary adventure, but you can totally be cautious and find all sorts of amazing destinations!

    1. Dear Katie,
      Jiayuguan is one of the important stop along Silk Road China in Gansu Province. It also mark the end of Great Wall, this part of Great Wall has lesser tourists as compared to the Great Wall near Beijing China.

  10. I am dreaming about the day I finally visit China and your pictures just made me get even more wanderlust. Love all the history you share, amazing shots. I do see this is the part o the Great wall with less tourists, makes up for some lovely pics¡

    1. Dear Cristina,
      Thanks for your comment. Jiayuguan Great Wall has fewer tourists as compared to the Great Wall near Beijing. Truly great location to do any photo shooting. You can also do a camel ride or desert motor ride to the Gobi Desert near Jiayuguan.

    1. Dear Fiona,
      Thanks for your comment. Jiayuguan has so many photo opportunies in every corner. From the top of the tower, you can stare at the boundless Gobi Desert.

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