Shanhaiguan is a part of the city of Qinhuangdao, in Hebei province, People's Republic of China. It literally means "The Pass of Mountain and Sea".
It is a popular tourist destination, featuring the eastern end of the Great Wall. The "First Pass Under Heaven" is also a noticeable tourist attraction.
It is nearly 300 km. east of Beijing and linked via the Jingshen Expressway.
Throughout Chinese history, it served as a frontier of defence against tribes from Manchuria (e.g. the Khitan, Jurchen and the Manchus)
Shanhaiguan Pass consists of a main castle, two supporting castles one in the north and one in the south, and two semicircular protective walls in front of the main castle, the town of Weiyuan and the town of Ninghai. Today most of these structures are still well preserved, while others, such as the wall of Ninghai, the Calm Sea Tower built on the town wall and the Laolongtou Great Wall, where the Great Wall meets the sea, have been restored. The brick wall of the pass, stuffed with earth, is 14 meters high, seven meters wide and four kilometers in circumference. It is connected with the Great Wall which stretches onto the rolling Yanshan Mountains in the north and into the Bohai Sea i n the south with parts and battlements that form a strong and powerful defense system. On the east gate of the city wall stands a tower hung with a horizontal inscribed board reading: "The First Pass under the Heaven". The bold characters written in vigorous strokes make the pass look even more magnificent. The Gate Tower houses an exhibition of ancient military uniforms and weapons including a saber that weighs 83 kilos, the heaviest in the country. Once you ascend the tower and take a broad view afar, the serried battlements and the rising mist will take you back to the ancient battlefields of a thousand years ago.
Beyond the Shanhaiguan Pass, the Great Wall stretches eastward until it dips into the sea at a place called Laolongtou (Old Dragon's Head). Tourist attractions in the vicinity include the Jiaoshan Section which has the Great Wall meandering along the mountain ridges, Shanhaiguan Great Wall Museum which has some interesting pictures, relics and clothes depicting the life story of this snaking construction, and a temple dedicated to Meng Jiangnu, one of China's devoted heroines.
First Pass under Heaven, built in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), is the east tower-- Zhendong Tower-- of Shanhaiguan Pass. It is the first pass of the Great Wall, and a significant strategic stronghold in Chinese history. Many ancient weapons and armors are still preserved here.
First Pass under Heaven has two parts. The first, rectangle city wall platform, rises 12 meters (39 feet) and extends east to west. Used as a boundary mark, the west part lies within central China while the east end extends to the exterior of the ancient state border. The south and the north sides of the platform are connected with the Great Wall.
The second part of the Pass is a two-story tower. The lower story has a gate in the center of the west side, while the upper story has a total of 68 arrow-shooting windows facing east, south and north. This part of the First Pass under Heaven, also called Arrow Tower, measures 66 feet long by 33 feet wide, and stands 43 feet high. With its strategic prominence, First Pass under Heaven is the symbol of architecture at the Shanhaiguan Pass
The most impressive part of First Pass under Heaven is the huge, 20 feet by 5 feet plaque, hanging on the upper part of the west side of the tower. The five huge Chinese characters, "Tian Xia Di Yi Guan," mean, "First Pass under Heaven" with each character on the plaque measuring about 5 feet from top to bottom.
First Pass under Heaven is the place the emperor often went to inspect his military system in the past. Now, it is a wonderful attraction for visitors to appreciate the greatness of natural landscape and experience the safety that comes from the strong strategic fortress.
Traveling tips: Views and Attractions: The huge plaque hanging on the tower; climbing up to the second floor of the tower visitors can see nearby towers, called ' Weiyuantang Tower', ' Jingbianlou Tower', ' Muyinglou Tower' and ' Linlvlou Tower' respectively, making up the, ' Five Tigers Holding the Guandong Region'. The Great Wall Museum under the Pass displays all kinds of archeological data, documents, photographs and exhibits.
Admission Fee: 40 RMB from May to October, 30 RMB in the other months Opening Hours: 08:10 to 17:00