Zijingguan is on the banks of the Juma River in Heibei Province, vaunted as the first impregnable pass south of Beijing. From the Pass, the Great Wall extends northeast to another famous pass-- Juyongguan, northwest of Beijing. The pass was first fortified in the Western Han dynasty (206B.C.- 24 AD). A l,000-strong garrison was set up there early in the Ming dynasty. In 1491 an expansion project reinforced the fortifications. The remains we see today are mostly from that time.
The most important role of Zijingguan was in the security of Beijing. Anyone casting a covetous eye on the central plains from the north would have two choices - to penetrate the Great Wall either directly at Juyongguan Pass, or by a roundabout route here at Zijingguan. While Zijingguan was no less important than Juyongguan strategically, it was, however, much more difficult to defend because of the configuration of the terrain. Not only are there many open valleys on both sides of the pass, but the nearby Jumahe River flows between flat banks, and in the dry season it becomes easily fordable.
Zijingguan is now in ruins, but one can still picture the grandeur and magnificence of the fortress in its prime. It was four kilometres in circumference and founded on stone slabs. Its ten-metre-high walls were also built of stones, but faced with bricks. Once there were eight gates. The still-standing north gate has an inlaid white marble slab above its archway. The name of the Pass "Zijingguan" was carved into the marble slab in one-metre-tall Chinese characters. The inscription dates back to 1589.
a. In 2004, rather than restoration, a replica of the original structure of the Zijingguan Pass was built. Fortunately, the original marble with the name of Zijinguan is still well-preserved there to remind people of the grandeur and magnificence of the fortress in its prime.
b. A side tour to the Western Qing Tomb (first built in 1730 during Qing Dynasty) is recommended. The Tomb, where four emperors are buried, is located about 35km south of Zijinguan. It is now a very beautiful and quiet park. The entrance fee is RMB90/person.