What little remains

Like most cities in Imperial China, Beijing at one time had a wall around it. And like the Great Wall, it was built in stages, which due to the whims of rulers and circumstances, were not exactly regular in shape. During the 1950s and 1960s almost all of Beijing’s city wall was demolished to make way for the second ring road and other development, but a kilometer and a half of its southeast section still stands.
This segment dates from 1419, during the Ming Dynasty.
The park dedicated to it is quite new, and is in fact still under construction, though most of it is open to the public. A lovely landscaped garden runs along what was the outside of the wall. On the other side, not far away, is the main Beijing train station.
It is also apparently a camping area, as long as your tent is makeshift.
Though I didn’t see any tents on this day.
In this picture you can see how the grass is kept green. That’s a water truck going along the sidewalk, while a guy walks behind it spraying water out of a big fat hose onto the grass. You can also see a couple getting pictures taken, probably for their engagement.
A little further along you can see some restoration work under way. In the background is Beijing’s tallest building, Guomao #3.
I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the warning signs on the construction fence:
This archway in the wall dates from 1915, when it was knocked out to allow the city’s first railroad to come in.
And this is the Southeast Tower. It was built from 1436-1440, a little later than the rest of the wall, and was the largest corner tower on any city wall in China. In case you’re wondering, there are 144 arrow holes for archers to shoot from in case of attack.
Like any large open area in Beijing, the park is also a place for kite enthusiasts to do their thing. These guys have some serious rigs.
For Ұ10 (about US$1.50) you can go through the railway entrance and get onto the top of the wall. This is the back side of the corner tower seen from the top of the stairs.
Inside the tower there are three levels. On the first and third, there is an art gallery, and on the second some exhibits about the history of the Ming Wall, including scale models of all nine of the original gates.
From the tower windows you can see both sides of the wall. I think that’s one of the bullet trains to Tianjin leaving the station.

Along the side of the tower, there is some graffiti.
This dates from 1900, when the forces of the Eight Powers invaded Beijing and took the tower. Russian and American soldiers carved names and dates into the bricks, “criminal evidence” as the explanatory sign informs us.

There was a sign for the “underground exhibit” but when I tried to enter, a guy in a uniform waved me away. I’m not sure what’s down there. As it was, I was the last one out of the park for the day, and they locked the gate behind me when I left.

It looks like they’re adding a little street for souvenir shops and food stalls, but it’s not open yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment