The closest section to Beijing city centre, water-straddling Juyongguan may seem like an easy way out, but it’s full of historical intrigue and considered to be one of the three Great Passes of the Great Wall.
While fortifications of sorts had been stationed at Juyongguan for centuries before, after overthrowing the Mongol Yuan dynasty in 1368, the first Ming emperor Zhu Yuanzhang wanted to make sure they couldn’t get back in, and ordered the construction of a stronger wall here. As the final checkpoint before the direct road to the capital, it would serve as one of its most important defences.
Arriving today, you’ll meet another section that’s undergone some heavy restoration, with neat staircases, amenities and handrails, though it’s still a doubtlessly impressive sight, with undulating wall snaking across the Guangou valley that it sits in, and making its way over a river, too.
Accessibility is the name of the game here. Besides being the closest to the city, Juyongguan also has ramped wheelchair access to some of its milder gradients, though its got steeper climbs for those looking for something more challenging, with it’s highest point reaching 350 metres. The section also circles round the Guangou valley on a four-kilometre loop, so you won’t need to retrace your steps.
Fun fact Juyongguan is also home to the impressive Cloud Platform, a Yuan dynasty feature that was the base for three white dagobas, where Buddhist meditation took place. The dagobas may have been destroyed long ago, but the intricate carvings and inscriptions in six different languages that remain upon it are a fascinating spectacle.
Be warned As with Badaling, this section’s proximity to Beijing means it’s prone to crowding at peak times.
Distance from the city 56km
Getting there By bus: The direct Tourist Line No. 1 bus leaves from the southwest side of the Zhengyangmen Gate, at the southern point of Tiananmen Square and at the northern entrance to Qianmen Dajie. One-way tickets cost 13RMB. First bus sets off from Qianmen at 7.30am; the last bus back to the city from Juyongguan departs at 4.30pm
Opening hours and tickets
Peak season (April 1-October 31): 8am-5pm. 40RMB; 22.5RMB (concessions).
Off-peak (November 1-March 31): 8.30am-4.30pm. 45RMB; 25RMB (concessions).