China, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge

WPC: Jiayu Pass ( 嘉峪关)

Jiayu Pass Gate

One of the gates of the Pass

Jiayu Pass Watchtower

Two watchtowers built atop the fortress

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.

Jiayu Walls

View of the walls from outside the fortress

Jiayu Pass

A watchtower and the wall at Jiayu Pass

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.

Watchers on the wall

Tourists looking down from the walls

Jiayu Details

Details of the towers


10 thoughts on “WPC: Jiayu Pass ( 嘉峪关)

    • It’s one of those places that you read and learn about so you think you know how it will be, but then you actually see it and it surpasses everything you thought.

  1. The route along the silk road was a long, long one and you had no idea who you would face along the way. As you alluded to, this gigantic fortress must have been a sanctuary for many of those on that road – maybe even offering them a taste of what it means to be home even. It looks strong and mighty and it would be hard to bring down. Lovely intricate architecture too and lucky you got to visit.

    • Well said. We visited a few other places along the silk road and it’s just amazing how people used to travel and trade in a time before trains and planes.

    • This is way out in the west of China and it’s not nearly as popular with tourists. There were still plenty of people there, but compared to most tourist sites in China it was fairly isolated.

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