Simatai Great Wall (Simatai Changcheng) [司马台长城]

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The Simatai section of the Great Wall, not far from the Gubeikou section, is located at Gubeikou Town in the northeast of Miyun County, 120 kilometers from the Beijing city center. While it is by no means ''wild wall,'' it offers more solitude and spectacular walking than either Badaling or Mutianyu: those in search of exercise in steep country and wonderful scenery can walk for hours along the Simatai wall - but it's steep, so wear the right shoes and take water.

The construction of this section started in the early Hongwu years (1368-1398) of the Ming Dynasty. Like most sections of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall often visited today, this section was also built under the supervision of General Qi Jiguang.

The Simatai Great Wall is 5.4 km long with 35 watchtowers altogether. Built hundreds of years ago, the Simatai Great Wall still retains all its original appearance. It not only incorporates a variety of styles of other parts of the Great Wall, but also displays some unique characteristics.

In the valley, the Simatai Great Wall is separated into two parts by the Simatai Reservoir, over which a chain bridge runs from east to west. Like two huge golden dragons, the two parts of the Great Wall wind down from the east and west mountains into the reservoir, forming a wonderful reflection of the Great Wall in the clear blue water.

The watchtowers on the Simatai Great Wall exhibit a refined design and various structures, among which the most celebrated are the Wangjinglou (Watching Beijing Tower), where one can enjoy lights of Beijing at night in the distance, and Xiannulou (Angel's Tower), which is characterized by its exquisite structure,with no reference concerning its name origin.

Along the Simatai Great Wall one can also find a section laid with bricks carrying inscriptions, such as "Made by Qiangzi Camp","Made by the left camp of Shandong in the 6th year of the Wanli reign" and "Made by the infantry camp of suppressing enemy troops in the 6th year of the Wanli reign". These messages not only record their origin, but also the period of time they were written.

With its fantastic scenery and precipitous topography, the Simatai Great Wall is a remarkable place for sightseeing, hiking and exploration. It has been acknowledged by the UNESCO as a place of World Cultural Heritage.

Getting there: Tourist Bus No. 12 from Xuanwumen and Dongsi Shitiao; or take bus from Dongzhimen to Miyun and then change to a local bus or hire a taxi

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