Ming City Wall Ruins Park

sights / Historic

Lonely Planet review

The city wall, levelled in the 1950s to facilitate transport and blot out the grandeur of earlier dynasties, is perhaps Běijīng’s most conspicuous chunk of lost heritage. As modern-day Nánjīng in Jiāngsū province proves, modern Chinese cities can still grow without having to rip their city walls down. This last slice of the Ming Inner City Wall (originally 40km in length) has been restored and runs along the length of the northern flank of Chōngwénmén Dongdajie, attached to a slender strip of park.

The wall stretches from the former site of Chóngwén Mén (崇文门; Chóngwén Gate), one of the nine gates of the Inner City Wall, to the Southeast Corner Watchtower and then turns north for a short distance along Jianguomen Nandajie to Beijingzhan Dongjie. Chóngwén Mén was also called Shuì Mén (税门; Tax Gate) as the capital tax bureau lay just outside the gate. You can walk the park’s length, taking in its higgledy-piggledy contours and the interior layers of stone in parts of the wall that have collapsed. The restored sections run for just over 2km, rising to a height of around 15m and interrupted every 80m with buttresses extending to a maximum depth of 39m. The most interesting sections of wall are those closer to their original and more dilapidated state and some of the bricks come complete with bullet holes.