China 7: Beijing city wall ruins
One of Beijing’s most fascinating historical aspects for me are its fortifications. Most of these have been obliterated from existence but among the few remains is a section of the old inner city wall.
From the Temple of Heaven we did a subway bounce over to Chongwenmen Station and trotted over to the Ming City Wall Relics Park. Chongwenmen was named for the city gate that once stood there until it was pulled down in the 1960s in the name of urban development.
Beijing’s subway was constructed by cutting the tunnels into the ground and then building over them. This required clearing whatever was above ground and rather than deal with the massive task of rehousing people, the subway was built where the 500+ year old walls and moats were.
They were already in a deteriorated state – fair enough, they were built in the 1400s – and partial dismantling had already occurred in earlier military conflicts and out of practicality given the high cost of maintenance.
A 1.5km section of wall – located between Chongwenmen and Dongbianmen gates – was spared because the metro line veered over to Beijing Railway Station instead of following the direction of the wall. Eventually it was named a cultural heritage site and about 25 years after that the park opened.
We followed the meandering path alongside the wall, much of which has undergone some restoration. Some parts do look marvellously original(ish) though.
The path took us to a ticket office and through to where you could walk up to the top of the wall.
We walked down and back along the path the way we came, beside the big fantastic in situ museum piece, on what used to be a dirt road next to a moat.