Jiayu Pass was the first line of defense from attackers from the northwest and a place to provide security for the silk road traders. This impressive fortress was built during the Ming Dynasty between 1372 and 1540. Its inner courts are guarded by massive 36ft high walls with multiple watchtowers looking out into the barren landscape. The pass is strategically located near the base of the Jiayu Mountain and in the narrowest portion of the Gansu Corridor. The fortress’s defenses are extended as part of the western portion of The Great Wall. The “Great Wall First Abutment”, which is the western starting point of the wall is only 8km north of the fortress.
Walking around the fortress you can feel the enormity of the construction and can understand the surety that the people inside must have felt. How daunting must have this fortress appeared to those that would seek to attack it. To see this behemoth rising up before you as you marched towards it exposed with no place to hide. Or if you’re a trader on the silk road imagine the sense of relief you must have felt seeing the fortress and knowing that protection lay ahead within those walls.