The Southern Great Wall of China
Presentation of the Southern Great Wall of China
Built during the 16th and 17th centuries, this 190 km-long wall (only 2 km are open to the tourists today, though) spreading to the Guizhou province finds its origins in a long time conflict within the Miao ethnic group that has been living in the area for centuries. Indeed, while the Ming held power until 1644, they had to make sure all the different people of China would be loyal to them. While it was not the case, they felt the need to build this wall in order to separate the loyal portion of the Miao people and the portion that decided to battle against their authority. To do so, the Ming put several thousands of soldiers on the wall so they could maintain security and order in the region. Like the more famous Great Wall in the Northern part of the country, this wall was then an embodiment of the ever-changing political, economical, military but also ethnical and cultural identities at the time of the Ming dynasty.
Located about 10 km outside Fenghuang, the wall crosses the natural landscapes of the Hunan province, caught between green mountains and streams. Certain sections of the wall have been renovated, others haven’t, which brings an interesting contrast between the new and the old, which the latter proves to remain more authentic, in the end. Those ruins are even covered by vegetation on certains parts of the wall. And if the architecture of the wall reminds you of the one seen in Fenghuang, it is because they used to be connected by the past, but the section was then dismantled by the local population to build their own houses.
The Great Wall reaches some interesting elevation at some point, thanks to the rugged landscape, offering great views of the surrounding nature. It proves then to be quit an interesting hike, if you don’t mind climbing lots of stairs. If you are in Fenghuang and have some time on your hands, this Southern Great Wall is definitely a good option.