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Ancient City Walls Gates
Pingyao is famous for its well-preserved ancient city wall in China. It was first built about 2,700 years ago; the ancient city wall was expanded in the Ming Dynasty. Finally, it stretches to the southern edge of the Taiyuan Basin and connects the Loess Plateau to the south. It can be regarded as an important communication bridge in old days along the Yellow River.
The city wall consists of an unbroken rectangle and features a rammed-earth-and-brick structure that goes 6.2 kilometers around. It is 10 metres in length and 5 metres in width at the bottom and 2.5-6 metres on the top. The wall measures 6 to 10 meters high, every 50 meters on the outside wall, a horse face building protrudes, altogether, there are 72 watchtowers and 3000 crenels, and they represent 72 excellent disciples and 3000 followers of Confucian. It was originally constructed in Xizhou Xuanwang period (827-728BC) when General Yinjipu had it established with mud to prevent the city from outside invaders. Later several reparations were made in each dynasty. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the city wall was rebuilt about 26 times totally. However, the present shape and structure remain as they were reconstructed at the first time.
The city wall keeps the style of the city wall of Ming and Qing dynasties. The general principle is powerful and broad in scale. Around the wall there are altogether six city gates with each in the north and south accordingly but in the east and west each opened two gates. It is said that the design of the city gates signifies a tortoise of longevity: the south one facing a river -- its head; two wells outside the gate-its eyes; the north-its tails; the four gates in the east and west-its four limbs; the zigzag streets and alleys in the county-the patterns on its back. Therefore, it is regarded as the tortoise city, which stands for the immortality of the city.
In a battle, the gate is the most important tool on the walled defense work as it can prevent the strongest attacks. Thus it must build strongly during construction. The tunnel of the city gate was built into archway of bricks. The heavy door leaf made of thick wood was highly reinforced by thousands of strong iron nails hammered in, which enabled it fire-resistant. At the top of each city gate, there is a tower built in which the garrison soldiers stayed. When the war broke out, the gate tower became the army post. Outside every city gate, there stretch a small enclosed compound connected with the main body of the city wall by extra walls on 3 sides.
The City Wall had played a very important role in guarding the county and has become a valuable structure in Pingyao nowadays. It often reveals its historical importance to visitors that the county has gone through in past times. So Pingyao city wall and gate is listed as one of the major tourist sites in the Shanxi province.
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