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Southern Great Wall beckons amid lush hills

(Shanghai Daily)

09:13, July 17, 2013

The 198 steps in front of the gate of the Linhai old city wall. The stairs are called "Haohan Po," meaning you will succeed if you can conquer difficulties like these steps. (Shanghai Daily)

The lush Jiangnan region south of the Yangtze River is filled with rivers, lakes and streams, misty mountains, fertile fields - it's the fabled land of fish and rice.

It's a region associated with beauty and elegance, serene classical gardens and famous scholars.

It's difficult to imagine a magnificent Great Wall winding its way along a green mountain ridge in the Linhai old city containing ponds and gardens.

But there it is and it is awesome.

The Linhai old city wall, also known as Jiangnan Great Wall and the Southern Great Wall, may not be as famous as the Great Wall near Beijing, one of Eight Great Wonders of the World, but it was the blueprint for part of the northern wall.

Dating back more than 1,600 years, the wall was first built in the Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD) and was restored and expanded in the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. A major section of 6,000 meters, much of it very steep, has been preserved in the Beigu Mountains.

Each step echoes with history.

Linhai is administered by Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province, so it is also known as the Taizhou Great Wall.

As a native from Xi'an City in Shaanxi Province, famous for its well-preserved city wall, I did not expect much of the Linhai city wall. After a five-hour train trip from Shanghai, my heart sank at the sight of the famous 198 steps in front of the gate of the city wall.

But I made it to the top and was rewarded with a breathtaking view of beautiful scenery, mountains on one side, the city on the other.

The steep and majestic wall was built overlooking the Ling River as a defense against invaders.

In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the famous general Qi Jiguang defeated invading Japanese pirates nine times over eight years. He also maintained and developed the wall, building zhongkong dital, or the "hollow watchtower," a small two-story fortification, as well as battlements.

General Qi and a local official were transferred to Jizhou in today's Hebei Province to construct a section of the Great Wall near Beijing. That's why there are many similarities in construction between the two walls, including fortified towers and battlements.

Walking along this great southern wall, with its fortresses and fire towers, is quite pleasant and very different from walking along the great northern wall in the scorching, arid north. There's much more greenery and shade and it is actually more beautiful, with nearby graceful architecture typical of the Jiangnan region. The vista from every turn and angle is like a painting.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:DuMingming、Ye Xin)

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