Beijing City Walls

Beijing City Walls

Beijing was the capital city during five different Chinese dynasties, including the Ming Dynasty, and so it was heavily and elaborately fortified. There was an inner city and an outer city. The construction of the outer city wall was started on the southern end. It was not completed, but its edges were turned inward to join the inner city wall. As a result, rather than the originally planned concentric layout; the outer city was south of, and adjacent to, the inner city. The inner city wall was 24 kilometers (15 miles) around, and the outer city wall was 23 kilometers (14 miles). Both were surrounded by moats. Within the inner city was the Imperial City, and within the Imperial City was the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City). Most construction was done during the Ming Dynasty, after which the fortifications were embellished by the Qing Dynasty.

There were a total of 16 gates along the inner and outer city walls. Most were demolished one by one from 1922 through 1974. A few inner city gates still remain: Zhengyangmen (Qianmen) at the center of the southern wall of the inner city; Southeast Corner Tower, sometimes incorrectly referred to as Dongbianmen, at the southeastern corner of the inner city wall; and Deshengmen, at the center of the northern wall of the inner city. Deshengmen was partially destroyed in 1923, but the fort is still intact. This is the best gate to visit in Beijing. It is open to the public and has an excellent museum about Beijing city walls, the Deshengmen Gate Exhibition of City Military Defense. It is also the location for bus departures for the Badaling Great Wall. Deshengmen is located at 39°56'54"N 116°22'24"E.

Along the outer city walls, no towers remain intact, but the Yongdingmen gate in the center of the southern wall was rebuilt in 2004 to 2005.

Beijing city wall

Only a few fragments of the city walls themselves remain; the largest is at the eastern end of the southern inner city wall. This span is in between the Southeast Corner Tower and the previous location of Chongwenmen to its east. It is about 1230 meters (4000 feet) long. At its eastern end, adjacent to the corner tower, a span of about 210 meters (700 feet) has been rebuilt and is open to the public. It is located just behind the Beijing Rail Station, at 39°54'1"N 116°25'40"E. Other wall fragments exist at the southern end of the western wall and at the southern end of the eastern wall.

The Ming Dynasty Wall Relics Park is located immediately south of the main Beijing rail station. The park encompasses a wall of about 1.5 kilometers in length running from west to east from 39°53'59.60"N 116°24'52.90"E to the corner tower at 39°54'0"N 116°25'45"E. The park was begun in June of 2001 and the wall was repaired beginning in Spring of 2002.

Only the corner tower and about 188 meters at the eastern end has been restored. The unrestored part is relatively easy to access if you don't mind a little bit of climbing.

There is another fragment of the old city wall nearby which runs north to south from 39°54'13"N 116°25'43.75"E to 39°54'6"N 116°25'44"E.

Ming Dynasty Wall Relics Park

Ming Dynasty Wall Relics Park Map

Dun Tai, Ma Mian, or Buttress

Railway Arch

Beijing &ndash Feng Tian Railway

Beijing inner city wall photos

Qing Dynasty flag post stone

Duntai (buttress) on the east-west wall at 39°53'59"N 116°25'15"E

Corner tower at 39°54'0"N 116°25'45"E

Duntai (buttress) on the north-south wall at 39°54'11.45"N 116°25'44.55"E

Inside corner of the north-south wall at 39°54'6.40"N 116°25'44.75"E

Night view from 39°54'12"N 116°25'43"E