Jiayuguan, the best preserved of all Great Wall passes, is in the west of Jayuguan City, Gansu Province. It was known in ancient times as the first pass of Hexi and a key passageway of the Silk Road.
The castle begin in 1372 (the 5th year of the Ming Hong Wu reign). It got its name for being located on the Jayu Highland between the Wenshu and Heishan mountains at the foot of the QilianMountains. The pass is shaped like a trapezoid. The west wall is about 166 meters, the east wall 154 meters and the north and south are both 160 meters. The gatetower, watchtower and embrasures brick and the rest is rammed earch. The pass has a good layout with a three-storied gatetower, 4 corner towers and consisting of an inner city wall, outer city wall, trenches, and fortifications with walls around them.
Once abandoned, Jiayuguan was rebuilt and reinforced in 1539 (the 18th year of the Ming Jiajing reign) and garrisoned. In the Qing Dynasty it became an office for checking merchants and travelers.
The architectural complex of the castle is magnificently exquisite. Its towers and pavilions have a classic beauty and grandeur with their roofs upturned at the end of the ridges. The castle commands fascinating views of the boundless GObiDesert and the snow-capped Qilian Mountains.
Map of Jiayuguan Pass