As a Chinese saying goes, 'He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man.' There is truth in this saying because, if you do not visit the Shanhai Pass, you will not understand the military power of ancient China. Shanhai Pass is where the Great Wall of China meets the ocean. It adjoins the Bohai Sea to the southeast and the Yanshan Mountain to the northwest.
Along with Jiayu Pass and Juyong Pass, Shanhai Pass is one of the major passes of the Great Wall of China It is located in Shanhaiguan District, Qinhuangdao, Hebei. In 1961, Shanhaiguan became a site of China First Class National Cultural Site.
Throughout Chinese history, it served as a frontier of defense against tribes from Manchuria. The pass of Shanhaiguan is a square, with a perimeter of around 4 kilometers long. The walls reach a height of 14 meters, and are 7 meters thick. The east, south and north sides are surrounded by a deep, wide moat. There are drawbridges over the moat. In the middle of the pass stands a tall bell tower. All four sides of Shanhaiguan had a gate: Zhendong for East, Ying'en for West, Wangyang for South, and Weiyuan for North. Due to disrepair over the centuries, only Zhendong gate still remains today. Zhendong Gate is the most important gate in Shanhaiguan due to its position, which faces outside the pass. Written on a board that hangs above the gate is an alternate name of Shanhai Pass, "First Pass Under the Heaven". This should not be confused with the "First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven", a different pass located on the west end of the Great Wall.
The "First Pass Under Heaven" is also a noticeable tourist attraction. The First Pass under Heaven is actually the east tower of the Shanhai Pass, called Zhendong Tower. It is 13.7 meters (44.95 feet) high with two floors. On the tower is a big board on which there are five huge Chinese characters 'tian xia di yi guan' (the First Pass under Heaven) inscribed by a calligrapher in the Ming Dynasty.
Climbing up the Zhendong Tower, you will see that to one side of the tower is the rolling sea, while on the other lies the lofty Great Wall. Furthermore, the Jingbian Tower, Linlu Tower, Muying Tower and Weiyuantang Hall stand on the same axis with the Zhendong Tower. Depending on the complex geographic conditions, these five buildings provided a strong protective screen.
The place where the wall itself meets the Pacific Ocean (at the Bohai Sea) has been nicknamed the "Old Dragon's Head." It is nearly 300 kilometres (190 mi) east of Beijing and linked via the Jingshen Expressway that runs northeastward to Shenyang. It is the most eastern beginning of the Great Wall, which extends into the Bohai Sea. Standing here is almost like being on a peninsula as you can feel the overwhelming power of the rolling sea.
Featuring the eastern end of the main line of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall, Shanhai pass worth your expectation. From the magnificently restored Old Dragon's Head to tumbledown ruins of old Wall to the rocky but perfectly passable beach and then all that water, you've got the makings of a great weekend.