Laoniuwan in Datong, Shanxi is one of the most beautiful valleys in China. This tour begins at Datong following the Great Wall's trail to where it borders Inner Mongolia, and meets the Yellow River.
Heading from Datong, the long, narrow road circles sweeping mountains, dipping on one side to terraced, green fields interspersed with cave houses built into the loess cliffs. To the other side is the vast Yellow River, curving like emerald glass around rough yet green terrain jutting into the water. The steep route on a remote road leads to a magic valley - Laoniuwan.
Great Wall in Datong
Datong was the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 386-534), when the Great Wall's northern borders were extended by 1,000 kilometers from Chicheng County, in North China's Hebei Province, to Wuyuan County in Inner Mongolia. Six important garrisons were built north of the Great Wall to protect Datong, then known as Pingcheng City. An inner wall was also constructed of earth. Lower than the original wall, it circled Datong, stretching some 500 kilometers to the east bank of the Yellow River.
Deshengbao Fortress & Village
The dusty fortress converted villageand has stood there unchanged for a century. Beyond the village walls, a section of the Great Wall dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) stretches over fields against the backdrop of a piercing blue sky. The wall's original brick casing is all but gone, and erosion has reduced it to a dry, earth barrier, rising to a grassy peak at a former garrison that guarded a strategic pass.
where the earthen remains of the wall run along the banks of the Yellow River. Relics of an ancient village stand on a ridge above the river, including an outdoor opera theater, a small temple and a beautiful, old gnarled tree in a central courtyard.
Yanmenguan on Yanmen Mountain, northwest of Dai County is the last of three outer Great Wall passes the group explores. Originally built in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), it was moved several kilometers north and rebuilt under the Ming Dynasty. A six-meter-tall wall guards the entrance to a castle at this once-impenetrable site, guarding over an undulating landscape of thick forest. A pair of carved stone lions, flag posts and pillars remain as testament to the arched gates that once stood to the east, west and north.