A 13 hour layover in Beijing provided a perfect opportunity for a layover tour to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. This section was first built in the middle of the 6th century. In the Ming Dynasty, the current wall was built over the 6th century one, completed in 1569.
Looking down from Tower 6 at Towers 5 and 4. Tower 4 is actually 3 towers joined together, an unusual feature on the Wall.
This section is among the best preserved and isn’t as busy as Badaling, especially early in the morning on cool New Year’s day, which suited me just fine.
There are 3 ways up to the wall – the gondola (you can see it in the picture), stairs (no thanks!) and a chairlift. The guide recommended choosing one or the other since they’re operated by different companies and a round trip ticket can’t be used for both. If I had it to do again, I’d take the gondola up to Tower 14, walk down to Tower 6 and take the chairlift down. It’s the more expensive option but I would have been able to see more without having to retrace my steps.
Mutianyu has more watchtowers than any other sections. There are 23 watchtowers on this 2 1/4 km stretch of wall.
In the distance you can see the unrestored Gubeikou section hugging the ridge.
The wall follows the contour of the land, going up and down. Some of the stairs are relatively wide, some are very steep.
Did I mention that they provided me with a coat? It saved me from having to bring one and was so very stylish!
In the next shot you can also see Tower 1 at the very top…
A few of the towers in this sections have decorative roofs, like this one at Tower 12.
Looking back down towards tower 11 (to the left) and tower 10 (to the right)
After tower 12 it was pretty steep up to towers 13 and 14. A good time to turn around!
From Tower 11 you can see up to Tower 14 and the Gondola station.
Tower 11, for some reason, sits at the end of a short “branch” off the wall, it’s not in line with the others.
I had to take a photo of this – sometimes things really do get lost in the translation…
It was a beautiful morning at the top of the world…
Looking back at Towers 5, 4 and 3. The restored section goes to the top of that hill, where it meets up with the Gubeikou section to the northeast and a branch wall to the southeast.
There is an extra way down from the wall, the slideway. If you take the chairlift, the return ticket includes the option to “slide” down. You can see the slide in the photo below coming in from the right and crossing the red bridge. I took the chair…
I was back at the airport in plenty of time for my flight. As the sun began to set it was finally time to bring this trip to a close and fly home…