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Jiayuguan Pass

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../images/tuku/Jiayuguan Pass
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../images/tuku/Jiayuguan Pass

The Jiayuguan Pass (Jiayuguan) represents the western starting point of a section of the Great Wall constructed during the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644). The pass covers an area of 33,500 square meters (eight acres) and lies at the base of a narrow valley, and takes its name from one of the surrounding hills, the Jiayu. Commonly referred to as the finest example of its kind on earth, the pass is the best preserved of the Great Wall's ancient military fortresses. Along with Juyongguan and Shanhaiguan, it is one of the main passes of the Great Wall.

Among the passes on the Great Wall, Jiayuguan is the most intact surviving ancient military building. The pass is also known by the name the "First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven" or "No. 1 Impregnable Pass in the World". The pass was a key waypoint of the ancient Silk Road. The pass is constructed in three concentric layers: the central area is made up of an inner city, containing the largest of the pass' buildings; an outer city section, surrounded by a large wall dotted with watchtowers, turrets, and high-terrace pavilions; and finally, for purposes of defense, a moat. All of these features combined to make it a daunting prospect for any would-be attackers.

In the inner city are some tourist spots including Youji Jiangjun (an official title)'s Mansion, Wenchang Hall and Jing Pavilion. Found outside the fort's east gate are the Guandi Temple, a series of grand archways and a theater tower. On the west side stands a grand stele housed in a pavilion. The four Chinese characters found etched on its surface - 'Tian', 'Xia', 'Xiong' and 'Guan' - were written by Li Tingchen, a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) commander.

Jiayuguan City is located at 98°17' east longitude and 39°47' north latitude. It lies in the Gobi desert, at the middle of Hexi Corridor, 776 kilometers away from Lanzhou and 5 - 6 hours away by bus from Dunhuang.