Jiayu Pass

Where Does The Great Wall Of China End?

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The Great Wall of China is one of the most impressive structures on the face of the earth. It is so large that it can be seen from space.

The Great Wall ends at what is known as the Jianyu Pass; this Jianyu Pass is the westernmost part of the Great Wall and was also known as the “First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven.” Some called it the gates at the Jianyu Pass, the Gate of Travelers, and the Gate of Sighs.

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Great Wall Of China
Overhanging Great Wall in Jiayuguan, China. The west end of the Great Wall of China in Autumn. The Great Wall appears very like a dragon overhanging the slope.

Unveiling the Terminus of the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is a monumental feat of ancient engineering and architectural prowess. Stretching across the vast landscapes of China, it is famously known to be visible even from space, highlighting its colossal scale.\

The Great Wall culminates at Jianyu Pass, the most westerly point of this historic structure. Renowned as the “First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven,” Jianyu Pass has been historically significant. It is also referred to by other evocative names such as the Gate of Travelers and the Gate of Sighs, each moniker reflecting the profound impact and historical importance of this endpoint of the Great Wall.

Jiayu Pass – The End Of The Great Wall

The Great Wall of China ends at the JIayu Pass in Gansu Province, China. The end of the Great Wall is sometimes called Jaiyu Pass or Jiayuguan. The Jiayu Pass is the westernmost part of the Great Wall.

The end of the Great Wall is 6 kilometers or 3.7 miles southwest of Jiayuguan, China. The pass lies between two hills; one of the hills dominates the Jiayu Pass.

The pass is built near a fortress in the very western part of China. It is called the “First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven.”

The Chinese call themselves Tian Xie, which means “Under Heaven.” Under Heaven is a historical Chinese cultural concept representing the lands, space, and area of sovereign China. This gate is called the First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven, as it is the entrance into China from the Western Frontier.

The Jiayu Pass was constructed during the Ming Dynasty; the pass was built in 1372, early in the Ming Dynasty.

The Ming Dynasty built this pass sooner than other parts of the Great Wall because they feared Timur, a Turco-Mongol Empire; they thought they would invade China. Today the Timur Empire is part of Central Asia, including Afghanistan and Iran.

The Jaiyu pass is considered one of the critical military fortresses along the Great Wall. This pass was impregnable; no one could get in that the Chinese did not want to allow in.

Gate of Travelers

The JIanyu pass also has the Gate of Travelers, one of the entrances where many of the traders for the famous Silk Road would enter China. The Silk Road was an important trade route between the west and east.

The gate of travelers was an essential connecting point between China and the rest of the world.

Many traders and travelers would have passed through the Great Wall gate on their way or leaving China.

Gate of Sighs

The gate at the Jiayu Pass is also known as the Gate of Sighs or, to some, the Gate of Demons; this is the gate where those disgraced, exiled, or undesirables are forced out of the Middle Kingdom or China.

The long archway leading out of the Jiayu Pass is the last point before someone is forced out of China and left to die in the desert wasteland.

Etched in the wall of the Gate of Sighs are countless writings that were penned by what must have been disparate exiles, dishonored officials, and criminals who knew their likely demise in the desert wasteland. Being forced out of the Gate of Sighs would have been a death sentence for most people.

Mildred Cable, a British Protestant Christian Missionary, spent a lot of time traveling through this part of China. She was part of the China Inland Mission.

Mildred Cable wrote some memoirs about her time in China; she went to this part of the Great Wall in 1923, and she wrote this about her experience:

“known to men of a former generation as Kweimenkwan (Gate of the Demons)….The most important door was on the farther side of the fortress, and it might be called Traveller’s Gate, though some spoke of it as the Gate of Sighs. It was a deep archway tunnelled in the thickness of the wall…. Every traveller toward the north-west passed through this gate, and it opened out on that great and always mysterious waste called the Desert of Gobi. The long archway was covered with writings…the work of men of scholarship, who had fallen on an hour of deep distress. Who were then the writers of this Anthology of Grief? Some were heavy-hearted exiles, others were disgraced officials, and some were criminals no longer tolerated within China’s borders. Torn from all they loved on earth and banished with dishonoured name to the dreary regions outside.”

Mildred Cable

Mildred Cable talked about how this was the end of the road for those Chinese people who were banished or no longer welcomed and were cast out of China forever.

Legend of the Jiayu Pass

The Great Wall, including this pass, was constructed during the Chinese Ming Dynasty. The legend had it that when the Jiayu Pass was in the planning stages for construction, the official in charge of the construction, Feng Sheng, asked the designer how many bricks they would need to use to construct the pass.

Unlike other parts of the Great Wall made from grey bricks, this wall section is made from soil produced by tamped layers; this gives the bricks a yellow hue; instead of the grey hue, most of the wall is constructed with.

The designer told the officials he would need to use 99.999 bricks. The official questioned the designer’s judgment and thought It would not be enough bricks. So the designer recalculated the bricks and gave a new number of 100,000 bricks or one more brick than he previously told the official.

The pass construction took 160 years, so the designer never lived to see the pass completed.

Legend had it that when the Jiayu Pass was completed, there was one leftover brick, which is placed loosely on one of the entrances of the Jaayu Pass. The one loose brick remains there today as a symbol of this legend.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall of China stretches approximately 13,171 miles (21,196 kilometers) in total.

When was the Great Wall of China built?

Construction of the Great Wall began as early as the 7th century BC and continued until the 17th century AD.

Why was the Great Wall of China built?

The Great Wall was primarily built as a defensive fortification to protect China’s northern borders from invasions by various nomadic groups.

Can the Great Wall of China be seen from space?

Contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall of China is not visible from space without aid. It is difficult to see even from low Earth orbit due to its narrow width and being composed of materials similar to the surrounding landscape.

Is the Jianyu Pass the westernmost part of the Great Wall?

No, the westernmost part of the Great Wall is actually located in Jiayuguan, in the Gansu province of China.

What is the significance of the Jianyu Pass?

The Jianyu Pass, also known as the “First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven,” holds historical importance as a strategic gateway in the western part of the Great Wall.

Are there different names for the Jianyu Pass?

Yes, the Jianyu Pass is also known by other names such as the Gate of Travelers and the Gate of Sighs.

Can visitors still access the Jianyu Pass?

Yes, the Jianyu Pass is open to tourists and visitors who wish to explore the area and learn about its historical significance.

How Long Did It Take to Build the Whole Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall of China took over 2,000 years to build. The building span many Chinese Dynasties or for about 22 centuries. The construction of the wall ended in the Ming Dynasty in 1644. The Great Wall is one of the most significant human-made construction projects globally; the Great Wall is over 21,196 kilometers or 13,171 miles. There are over 25,000 watchtowers scattered throughout the Great Wall structure.

You can learn more by reading How Long Did It Take to Build the Whole Great Wall of China? by clicking here.

11 Things China and Vietnam Have In Common

China and Vietnam are Asian countries with many similarities in their culture, traditions, and language. Both are patriarchal societies that believe in ancestor worship. Many of their shared traditions include many traditional holiday celebrations. Their government systems are similar.

To learn more, you can read our blog on 11 Things China and Vietnam Have In Common by clicking here.

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