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Southern Great Wall, a beautiful, unknown page of ancient China

06-Sep-2014 - Renato Berti (Photo Chinahotelsreservation.com)
Southern Great Wall, a beautiful, unknown page of ancient China
Located at Linhai-Taizhou, 300 km south of Shanghai, 230 km southeast of Hangzhou.

Yes, there is also the Southern Great Wall Of China. Not long, for now not very popular (especially abroad), but beautiful, interesting, historically confirmed. This Great Wall, located in Linhai - Taizhou, has several things in common with the Northern Great Wall of China. Both were built by order of Emperor to fight the invasions of external enemies, both are built with the same technique and the same design, both were built (at least partly) by the same people. In fact, the generals Qi Jiguang and Tan Lun, after 9 years of building and of wars in Linhai, were commissioned to rebuild and renovate the Great Wall at north of Beijing (also in the popular area of Badaling). So the structure located in Linhai has served as a model for the Great Wall of China North, the one that everyone knows.

Against flooding of the river Linjiang
The Great Wall Of China South served another important function for the inhabitants of the Linhai area. In fact, after having climbed and descended the steep ridges of the hills, the fort continues along the riverbank Lingjiang, just before the point where it flows into the sea. Here the water of river has always been a problem for thousands of years. When the sea level rises, the river flow is hindered, and the level of water becomes higher. Normally, good part of Linhai would be submerged by water. Instead, from 1600 years, since the South Great Wall exhists, this no longer happens. Since then, the city has always been safe, both from enemy attacks that from flood risk.

The war against the Japanese pirates
Although 1600 years old, the current version of The Great Wall Of China South was rebuilt around 1553 under the Ming dynasty. Its function was, originally, to stop the raids of Japanese pirates from the sea. The General Qi Jiguang (a famous national hero of China) had been sent to Linhai - Taizhou from the Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty). In this area, the sea pirates were dangerously penetrating in China. Qi Jiguang, having rebuilt and strengthened the defensive wall in Linhai, formed a well-trained army and won against the Japanese pirates 9 battles in 8 years.

Similar to the Great Wall of North
In 1567 the Emperor Longqing (the second emperor Ming) commissioned the generals Qi Jiguang and Tan Lun to rebuild and strengthen the Great Wall at north of Beijing (including the areas of Badaling and Mutianyu). So the South Great Wall in Linhai and the Great Wall of China North were designed and built by the same people. It is for this reason that they are very similar, with the same architectural style, using the same technique, with the same interlayer of turrets and fortified bastions. And it is for this reason that the defensive barrier of Linhai has been called the Great Wall of China South.

The Sightseeing Tour
The Great Wall of South every year is visited by about 1.3 million tourists, mostly Chinese from neighboring towns. The majority of Chinese and foreigners do not know anything about the existence (and the significance) of the Great Wall Of China South. The main tourist itinerary is 6000 meters long, the wall is entirely practicable in about 3 hours following the way over the wall. The entrance to the tour is a flight of 198 steps, testing immediately the resistance of the tourist. Along the way are visible gates, fortified towers, battlements. The wall is very similar to that of Beijing, Badaling area. The only major difference is that here there is a lot of vegetation, so sometimes the wall is almost hidden by the trees.

Temples along the tourist route
At the foot of the central section there is the Chenghuang Temple. The tourists come here especially to visit a huge camphor tree (dating back to 1300), to which the people attributes special powers. Today it remains only half of the tree, since about 90 years ago has been partially destroyed by lightning strike. The remaining part of the tree is very popular with tourists, which bind to the tree red ribbons, a symbol of hope and good wishes.
In the north-east of the wall, there is the Temple of Heaven, in part similar to the eponymous temple of Beijing. This structure, consisting of more temples, has always been used to offer sacrifices to heaven. In most parts of the structure, there are semicircular or square shapes, in respect of an ancient Chinese belief (round heaven and square earth). The Linhai Temple of Heaven was built by Fang Guozhen, a farmer who organized a revolt against the officials and the imperial garrison, event that would have contributed to the overthrow of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

Even Ziyang Ancient Street is worth a visit
The Great Wall of China South along the last stretch descends steeply towards the river, offering tourists a spectacular view. The visitors come down from the wall just before a hill dotted with pagodas. Then sightseeing tour continues in the beautiful Ziyang Ancient Street. Long about 1000 meters, this route is entirely composed of ancient buildings, both in wood and masonry. Everything has been preserved intact, so as to leave intact the atmosphere of times past. On this road not only the buildings were like hundreds of years ago, in fact the locals have also tried to keep life as it once was. So you can see an old bank, an old pharmacy of traditional medicine, an old barber shop still operating. Anyway, all other shops are still active and are carefully preserved.
06-Sep-2014 - Renato Berti (Photo Chinahotelsreservation.com)

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