Ming City Walls

Ming City Walls in Nanjing was initiated by the first Ming Dynasty emperor-Zhu Yuanzhang to solidify his newly-established capital in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The whole project took over 30 years and consists of 4 parts: From the outside first there is Outer City, Inner City, Imperial City and Palace City. For the protection neglect and time erosion, the Outer City, Imperial City and the Palace City (the centre of the four walls) are no long in existence. The City Wall we mean and see today is the main remains of the Inner City.

The original over-33km-long enclosed City Walls now exist only in separated segments adding up to a range of over 20 km. With a height of 14-21 meters, a top width of 4-9 meters and footing width of 14 meters, the City Walls are built with total over 30 million giant bricks glued by the specially-made mixture. In order to guaranteed this massive project quality, all the strip bricks of the wall were stamped with the names or other specific info of the brick makers and supervisors that monitored the brick-making process so as to ascertain the blame once bricks failed the quality control check. Many of the ancient inscriptions in the official characters or the craftsmen rough writing are still visible on brick sides. That may explain why this ancient City Walls still stand now. Unlike balanced square City Walls in other destinations, the Nanjing City Walls were differently designed in irregular shape. One reason for such innovative shape is to cope with the particular winding landscape while the other is to blend the Taoism theory in the construction to deify the humble-background emperor Zhu Yuanzhang to consolidate his reign.

The visitor-accessible wall sections now are respectively Taicheng (台城) to Shence Gate (神策门 or Heping Gate (和平门), ShiziShan (狮子山), Yijiang Men (挹江门), Xiaotaoyuan (小桃园), Shitou Cheng (石头城), Zhongshan Gate (中山门), Zhonghua Gate (中华门).

Zhonghua Gate (中华门) and Taicheng (台城) are always two highlight sections among the remnants. Zhonghua Gate (中华门), in the southwest part of Nanjing, is one of the best preserved part of the wall. This castle gate was stalled with portcullis and wooden door that slammed shut to trap the enemy invaders that would be ambushed by the hidden soldiers in vaults. Inside the gate there are displays and information detailing the history of the walls. Confucius Temple Area and Yuhuatai Scenic Spot and Qinhuai River nearby give your eyes many things to browse. Taicheng (台城) to Taipingmen (太平门) section is full of views like the Zhongshan Mountain to the east, Jiming Temple to west and Xuanwu Lake to the north and modern development to the south. The City Walls Museum (南京明城垣史博物馆) at the wall entrance abounds with the relics or documents on the City Walls history.

A stroll along the City Walls can be full of contrasts: the bleak-walls colored by the creepers, the thick walls lively with pet-walking and sport residents, the ravaged wall path leading to the wide road, etc.