China: Jiayuguan – Overhanging Great Wall

Jiayuguan is the site where the Great Wall of China is at its westernmost tip. There is a mountain pass here with a heavily fortified fort in it and the walls stretching in both directions. One portion is know as the Overhang Great Wall as the wall climbs steeply up a craggy mountain and it takes a strenuous climb with almost 150m/500ft elevation gain to get to the top tower. This portion of the wall was built in 1539-1540 at the westernmost stretches of the Ming Dynasty Empire and the end of the Silk Route in China (this was the Silk Route’s gateway). The wall here was built from packed clay and earth (unlike bricks in the east) and it has yellow color and weathered appearance. Also a short drive from here is the very first pier of the Great Wall of China – literally a clay watchtower with the very first stretch of the wall running east from here. Viewed from a distance, the Great Wall looks like a dragon overhanging from the black mountain slope, hence the name. The spectacular appearance of the Wall here is often compared to the best section of the Wall in the west, the Badaling Section. You feel in touch with medieval history climbing and exploring around here, you are also likely to be the only foreign tourist doing this.