Juyong Pass Great Wall Scenic Area
Juyong Pass or Juyongguan is one of the three greatest passes of the Great Wall of China. The other two passes are Jiayuguan and Shanhaiguan. This location, in the mountains just north of Beijing, has had strategic importance for thousands of years. The earliest fortifications here date to the Spring and Autumn period of China, between 770 and 476 BC. The Cloud Terrace structure in the middle of the site dates to the Yuan dynasty, between 1271 and 1368 AD. At this time Beijing was the new capital city and so this pass played an important part in the capital's defense. With the advent of the Ming dynasty, Beijing was first destroyed and abandoned then rebuilt as a new capital again. The Juyong pass to become one of the key fortifications to protect the new capital from the Mongols to the north.
The great wall at Juyong has several interesting features not found elsewhere. The wall crosses the valley twice, forming a loop that goes first up one side of the valley, then down and up the other side, before coming down again back where you started. This makes it a good location for people who don't want to do too much hiking to see the wall. In other locations you have to hike several miles up the mountain to find the wall. But at Juyong, the wall is right by the road. Also the length of wall walk can be adjusted to suit. You may do the full loop, or you can do half a loop and return by road to the beginning.
In the middle of the pass is the Cloud Platform. This is a large stone structure made of white marble. It pre-dates the great wall by about 100 years, being contemporary to the Yuan dynasty. There were originally three wooden towers on top of the platform. These burnt down at the end of the Yuan dynasty. Later a temple was building the platform but it too burnt down during the Qing dynasty. In the centre of the platform, an archway cuts through. The sides of the archway bear inscriptions of Buddhist sutras.
One criticism of the Juyong Great Wall site is that it has been heavily restored and reconstructed. Some people think that the level of restoration is to perfect, so as to give the impression that the wall is brand new. For those people who want to see a more rustic, authentic, great wall, they should perhaps try another location. The key advantages of the Juyong Great Wall are the ease of access, proximity to Beijing, less tourists than elsewhere, and the unique architecture.