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Gansu Jiayuguan Pass

jiayuguan-pass  Jiayuguan Pass is the first pass at the west end of the Great Wall of China and was built during the Ming Dynasty. It is located 6 kilometers southwest of Jiayuguan City, which is in Gansu Province.

Gansu Jiayuguan Pass is located at the foot of Jiayuguan Hill, and earned the name 'The First and Greatest Pass under the Heaven'. This is different from 'The First Pass under the Heaven', which is located at the east end of the Great Wall near Qinhuangdao City, in Hebei Province.

The Pass is located at the narrowest point of the western section of the Hexi Corridor, and Jiayuguan often has the meaning of 'Nice Valley'. It was also part of the ancient Silk Road.

jiayuguan-pass01The pass is trapezoid-shaped with a perimeter of 733 meters and with an area of more than 33,500 square meters. The total length of the city wall is 733 meters and the height is 11 meters. There are two gates-with one located on the east and west sides of the pass. On each gate, there is a building. On the building at the west gate, the Chinese inscription of 'Jiayuguan Pass' is written on a tablet. The south and north sides of the pass are connected to the Great Wall. There is a turret on each corner of the pass. On the north side inside the two gates, there are wide roads leading to the top of the pass.

The structure was initially built in 1372, during the Ming Dynasty, and has a history of more than 600 years. A legend says that when Jiayuguan Pass was to be built, the official in charge of this project asked the designer to count how many bricks and other materials would be used. The designer gave him a specific number. When the project was finished, one brick was left and that was placed on the pass as a symbol of commemoration.

Jiayuguan itself consists of three defense lines: an inner city, an outer city, and a moat.

Around Jiayuguan Pass, there are many historic sites, such as the Mogao Caves. Today, Jiayuguan Pass is the most intact ancient military building preserved from all the passes on the Great Wall. Many frescos were found in the areas around Jiayuguan Pass.