Chinese: 谷关
Pinyin: Gǔ guān
English: Valley pass
Coordinates: 37°53'35.8"N 113°54'17.8"E

The Guguan Great Wall is located near the border of Hebei and Shanxi provinces. It is very near the highway between Shijiazhuang and Taiyuan, so it is easy to reach.

The Guguan pass was first built by the Zhongshan State in the Spring and Autumn Periods. It was extensively rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty.

The pass at Guguan

Starting in 1998, the Guguan Great Wall from the Ming Dynasty was first repaired by locals who were said to be descendents of soldiers who were once stationed here. After a period of additional fund raising, the reconstruction was completed in 2003.

At the center of the Guguan Great Wall is the pass and gate tower. This area has been repaired well and appears to reflect its original design faithfully. The pass and gate tower are the highlight of the Guguan Great Wall. The design of the gate tower, in particular, is very interesting. It would have been very difficult for an enemy to make their way through the gate tower. Sadly, the adjoining sections of the wall and well as the associated towers seem to have been repaired with little if any regard for the Ming Dynasty implementation.

Rebuilt tower at Guguan

From the gate tower, the Guguan Great Wall extends 2.1 kilometers (1.37 miles) to the west and then to the north towards Niangziguan. About 400 meters (0.25 miles) west of the gate tower is a beacon tower on the north side of the wall that was rebuilt using original stones. The restored wall goes about 680 meters (2240 feet) in total before it ends at the next tower. Beyond this point, the wall, which was built of stone, is in such a deteriorated condition that basically only a pile of rubble remains to mark the path of the wall. But if you follow the wall for roughly 500 meters (1600 feet), the condition of the wall begins to improve somewhat before it ends.

Guguan Great Wall

To the east and then to the south of the gate tower, the wall is about 2.17 (1.35 miles) long. The wall to the south of the gate tower follows a semicircular route protecting the pass, and then does a hairpin turn and continues in a generally southern direction. It is at the apex of this hairpin that the 2003 restoration project of the southern wall ends. Again, the wall that follows has mostly collapsed and is in very poor condition. Near its end, this side of the Guguan Great Wall has an auxiliary branch that is about 0.8 kilometers (0.5 miles) long.

Location summary: Guguan is about 310 kilometers (193 miles) from southwest of Beijing. It is about 8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles) south of Niangziguan.

Driving directions: From Beijing, go southwest on G4 for about 275 kilometers (171 miles) to Shijiazhuang. From Shijiazhuang, drive southwest on G5 for about 50 kilometers (31 miles) to Guguan.

I had a chance to visit the Great Wall in the eastern part of Shanxi province when I visited Shijiazhuang (Hebei) in the weekend. I was surprised to know that my friend in Shijiazhuang didn't know about the Great Wall only 50 kilometres away, but for a lot of Chinese people The Great Wall is Badaling (probably for a lot of other people as well).

According to my books the wall at Niangziguan is very famous and magnificent, but I'm sorry to say that Niangziguan was a big disappointment. As can be seen in William Lindesay's book Great Wall Revisited the gate tower have been badly restored and changed according to the original design. Furthermore the restored section of the wall looks like something you would find in an amusement park. Unfortunately the traffic in this area is extremely bad so in fear of spending the night in my car in the middle of nowhere I didn't have time to look for remains of the original wall but headed back to the hotel.

On the way back to Shijiazhuang we passed Guguan located at the express way leading to Shijiazhuang. This part of the wall has also been repaired but it looks very nice and the gate tower has a very interesting design. At the end of the repaired section the original wall can still be seen although in bad condition.

Therefore if anyone should find themselves in this part of China I strongly recommend to avoid Niangziguan and visit Guguan instead - it is not very far from Niangziguan and can easily be accessed form the express way.