The Nanjing City Wall

Nanjing Revisited (July 2012)

Between the year 2000 and 2004 I made repeated trips to Nanjing, collecting information about its history and taking photographs.  Finally in 2004 I had a book about Nanjing published in Singapore.  After that I didn’t return to the city for eight years until a brief weekend trip in late July 2012.   As a result of that return trip I’ll be posting some new information and digital photos here on various Nanjing related topics, starting with this one.  This is based on an updated and revised version of the information originally published in my 2004 book, which I should cite here in full:

Eric N. Danielson, Nanjing and the Lower Yangzi, From Past to Present, The New Yangzi River Trilogy, Vol. II, Singapore: Times Editions/Marshall Cavendish, 2004. 472 pages.

The Nanjing City Wall

Eric N. Danielson

(07-25-12)

Nanjing’s 14th century Ming Dynasty city wall was built over 600 years ago. It took 200,000 workers 20 years to complete the construction, which started in 1366 and was finished in 1386. Each brick was stamped with information regarding who made the brick, where it was made, and when it was made, in order to control the quality of the work. The Ming Dynasty capital’s defenses included all the walls and moats constructed in previous dynasties. A stretch of wall about 1.3 km long known as the Stone City (Shi Tou Cheng) had been built by Sun Quan of the Wu Kingdom and was integrated into the Ming city wall. The most impressive section of the Stone City is known as the Ghost Face (Gui Lian). In February 2004 a new Stone City Park (Shi Tou Cheng Gongyuan) was completed providing better access to this oldest section of the city wall.

Originally, the main city wall had 13 gates, and 200 fortresses. Its length stretched a distance of 33.7 kilometers and enclosed an area of 41.3 square kilometers. Its height ranged from 14 to 26 meters, and its width 10 to 20 meters at the base, and 7 to 14 meters at the top.

The 13 original Ming Dynasty city gates were Taiping Men, Chao Yang Men (Zhongshan Men), Zheng Yang Men (Guang Hua Men), Tong Ji Men, Jubao Men (Zhonghua Men), San Shan Men (Shui Xi Men), Han Xi Men (Han Zhong Men), Qing Liang Men, Ding Huai Men, Yi Feng Men, Zhong Fu Men, Jin Chuan Men, and Shen Ce Men (He Ping Men). In addition there was an East Water Gate (Dong Shui Men), through which flowed a branch of the Qin Huai He River, exiting out through the West Water Gate (Shui Xi Men).

Some very long sections of the Ming city wall originally had no way to get in or out of the city. For example, there were no gates at all along the shore of Xuan Wu Hu Lake stretching from Tai Ping Men to Shen Ce Men (He Ping Men). Zhonghua Men (Ju Bao Men) was the only gate at the south end of the city, and there was only one gate on the city’s east side between Tai Ping Men and Zheng Yang Men (Guang Hua Men). In 1910 Kiyoshi Uchiyama of the Japanese Consulate published a guidebook to Nanjing in which he stated that nine of the original 13 Ming city gates were still in use, although he did not clarify whether the other four had been torn down or were simply kept closed. After the 1911 Revolution (Xin Hai Geming), the Republican government added a number of additional gates to improve transportation in and out of the city. Eventually, there were a total of 24 gates.

In 1927 the wall and its gates were still so impregnable that the resident foreign community became trapped inside the city when the gates were closed during the attack on the city by the Guomindang army’s Northern Expedition coming down the Yangzi River from Wuhan. In order to escape they had to climb down the western city wall from their residential compound on Ding Shan overlooking the Hai Ling Men using ropes made out of sheets tied together. Alice Tisdale Hobart published her first-hand account of this incident in her 1927 book, “Within the Walls of Nanking,” in which she wrote that she felt, “caught like rats in a trap,” within the confines of the city’s ancient yet still sturdy city wall.

In 1928, after making Nanjing their national capital, the newly installed Guomindang central government began renaming almost all the city gates, several of which also had to be enlarged in order for the 1929 funeral procession of former president Sun Zhongshan to be able to cross the city from west to east. Nonetheless, in 1930, enough city wall was still standing for the Guomindang government to actually draft a plan to turn it into a ring road around the city, atop which automobiles would drive. * As the plan stated, “An elevated ring boulevard is suggested as eminently practical on top of the city wall, to afford a means of bypassing the central business districts and also to serve as a pleasure drive.”

*T.Z. Tyau, “Two Years of Nationalist China,” Shanghai: 1930.

According to contemporary accounts published in the 1930s, it seems that nearly all the Ming Dynasty city wall and city gates still stood at the time of the Japanese invasion in December 1937. Although sections of the wall were severely damaged during the 1937 Japanese occupation of the city, photos show that even Guang Hua Men, the main entrance point for the invading army, was still standing in 1939, albeit in a damaged condition. Later, after the overthrow of the Guomindang regime in 1949, some city gates and about one third of the city wall were torn down in 1954, leaving only 21.4 kilometers of the original wall and four Ming city gates still standing. However, compared with Beijing, where the entire city wall was torn down after 1949, Nanjing’s city wall survived fairly well.

Since 1981, the Nanjing city government has been taking increasing steps to restore and reconstruct the city wall. In 1994 a long section of the wall stretching 1.7 km along the Xuan Wu Hu lake shore from Jiefang Men to Taiping Men was reconstructed. From 2000 to 2001, the city rebuilt the northwestern corner of the wall around the base of Lion Peak (Shizi Shan), near Jing Hai Si, as well as another western section along the Stone City Park (Shi Tou Cheng Gongyuan) completed in February 2004. If you look closely you can see the color of the bricks changes at a certain level of the wall. This is because the bottom part is original while the top ramparts are new restorations. Official estimates now state that 23.43 kilometers of the Ming city wall is standing, an increase of over two kilometers since 1979.

Many areas of the city are still known by, and labeled on maps according to, the names of the Ming city gates which once stood there. However, in many instances the gate is long gone, although the name of it is still used to designate that part of the city. Good examples are Tai Ping Men and Zhong Yang Men, both of which are still commonly used by locals as the name for the neighborhoods where these gates once stood, even though they are no longer there. Even locally printed city maps label neighborhoods by the names of city gates that are long gone.

This has led to considerable confusion amongst Western authors (most of whom never even visited Nanjing in person) about which gates are still standing and which are not, with many English language publications providing mistaken information in this regard. For example, through many editions of the book over the years, Lonely Planet’s China guide had continuously stated that Zhong Yang Men was still standing when in fact it had been gone for decades. However, at the same time, other books have made the mistake of assuming that almost all the original Ming city gates have been destroyed. Below is an accurate and up to date report of the facts based on lengthy field research and the leg work of actually walking the entire course of the city wall on foot numerous times over the past 12 years since I first visited the city in May 2000.

Ming Dynasty City Wall (Ming Cheng Qiang)

In the Hongwu reign (1368-1398) of Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Nanjing had four layers of walls protecting four separate sections of the city.

The Emperor’s Palace (Ming Gu Gong)

The smallest of the four sections was the Emperor’s Palace (Ming Gu Gong), the remains of which now form a city park in the southeast corner of the city near the present day Zhongshan Men on Zhongshan Dong Lu. The Ming Gu Gong had a square shape with four gates leading in each direction. The palace was built over an eleven year period, from 1366 and 1377, making it the oldest part of Hongwu’s reconstruction of the city. Of the original structures, today only the Meridian Gate (Wu Chao Men) and five stone bridges leading to it survive intact. However, in 2003 a new replica of the palace’s east gate, originally called Dong An Men but now called Dong Hua Men, was rebuilt east of Ming Gu Gong Park, on the south side of Zhongshan Dong Lu. First time visitors to Nanjing might be fooled by the gate’s apparent authenticity, but it is in fact a clever forgery.

The Imperial City (Huang Cheng)

Surrounding the Emperors’ Palace wall was the slightly larger walled area of the Imperial City (Huang Cheng). On the east and south this area shared the city wall as its boundary, with Chao Yang Men acting as its eastern gate, and two southern gates Tong Ji Men and Zheng Yang Men (Guang Hua Men). The Imperial Way (Yu Dao) stretched from Wu Chao Men in the north to Zheng Yang Men (Guang Hua Men) in the south, and is still commemorated by the present day street name Yu Dao Jie. Tong Ji Men, facing the Qin Huai He River, had a design similar to that of the existing Zhonghua Men, with a series of four gates on a central axis passing through three enclosed courtyards known as barbicans or jar towns (weng cheng). Outside the Tong Ji Men was the famous Nine Dragon Bridge (Jiu Long Qiao) across the Qin Huai He River.

The Imperial City had its own separate wall to the north and west. The western wall had three gates, the most important of which was the Xi Hua Men. The northern gate was called Bei An Men, and is still commemorated by the present day street name Bei An Lu. When the Ming capital was moved from Nanjing to Beijing in 1421, during the Yongle reign, the new Forbidden City in Beijing was modeled after the Imperial City and Emperor’s Palace in Nanjing. During the Qing Dynasty the Imperial City was sometimes known as the Tartar City or Manch Quarter.

Today none of the original wall of Nanjing’s Imperial City remains, except for the stretch of city wall on both sides of Zhongshan Men. After being renamed Guang Hua Men in 1931, Zheng Yang Men was the main entrance point used by the invading Japanese army in December 1937, and as such was severely damaged at that time. Nonetheless, a 1939 photo shows it still standing, albeit with the exterior layer of brick blown off around the single arched portal. In 1954 the entire section of city wall from Tong Ji Men to Guang Hua Men was torn down.

However, in 2003 a new replica of one the imperial city’s three western gates, the Xi Hua Men, was rebuilt from scratch at the intersection of Zhongshan Dong Lu and Long Pan Lu. Again, as with Dong Hua Men, new arrivals to the city may not believe that this gate is a fake, but I can testify that it did not exist before 2003.

The Outer City Wall (Wai Cheng Qiang)

The Outer City Wall (Wai Cheng Qiang) once extended over 60 km and had 18 city gates. It was not completed until 1390, after the main city wall. Because less attention was paid to the quality of this wall, it deteriorated and disappeared fairly rapidly. In the early Min Guo period, the Guanyin Men near Yanzi Ji was the only outer city wall gate still standing. None of this wall or its gates has survived to the present day.

The Inner City Wall (Nei Cheng Qiang)

The main City Wall (Cheng Qiang), which we could call the Inner City Wall (Nei Cheng Qiang), had 13 city gates and a circumference of 33.7 km. The most impressive city gates were Zhonghua Men (Ju Bao Men), Tong Ji Men, and San Shan Men (Shui Xi Men), each of which had three defensive barbicans or jar towns (weng cheng) and a series of four arched portals on a central axis. Much of this inner city wall has survived or has recently been restored, but only three of the 13 Ming city gates are still intact in their original form.

Ming Dynasty City Gates:

Out of Nanjing’s original 13 Ming Dynasty city gates, three are still standing and completely intact, while a fourth has been significantly modified and the rest destroyed. In addition, one original Ming Dynasty water gate and one Ming Dynasty palace gate are still standing. Of these six relics of the city’s Ming defenses, the three most impressive are Zhonghua Men, Shen Ce Men, and Wu Chao Men, in that order. Their present names are provided first, with previous names in parenthesis.

Zhonghua Men (Ju Bao Men)

This impregnable fortress is an original 14th century Ming Dynasty gate built during the period 1366-1386 when the rest of the city wall was also constructed. Facing the Qin Huai He River and the Yu Hua Tai Terrace beyond, this was the south gate of the city. It has three defensive barbicans (weng cheng) enclosed by separate walls, and four successive arched portals on a central axis. The city wall here was 15 meters high and 15 meters wide. More than just a gate, it served as a fortress, which housed 3,000 soldiers who could hide inside its 27 caves. It has a series of four gates known as Tou Dao Men, Er Dao Men, San Dao Men and Si Dao Men. These four gates connect three open courtyard spaces known as barbicans (weng cheng). The Chinese term weng cheng means jar town. Facing south towards the bridge over the Qing Huai He River, the outermost first gate (Tou Dao Men) is topped with one enormous rectangular tower, which has three storeys, is 24.5 meters high, and has two steep flights of steps ascending to the top of it from either side. This tower used to be topped by yet another multi-story structure that has since been destroyed. The whole Zhonghua Men fortress is 128 meters long, 119 meters wide, and covers an area of 15,000 square meters. It was originally built in the same place as the Southern Tang (Nan Tang) Dynasty’s Nan Men (South Gate). In 1931 two sections of city wall were removed on the east and west sides of Zhonghua Men to make way for the construction of a road around it, leaving the gate standing in the middle of a traffic circle. Up until 1931 it had been known as Jubao Men (Treasure Gate), but in that year it was renamed Zhonghua Men (Central Flower Gate). An admission ticket must be purchased to visit this sight.

Shen Ce Men (He Ping Men)

Shen Ce Men [神策门] is one of the four surviving original 14th century Ming Dynasty city gates, and is second only to the more famous Zhonghua Men in terms of its impressive appearance. Much like Zhonghua Men, it has a walled barbican enclosure (weng cheng) that makes it more like a fortress than merely a gate in the wall. It is located near the intersection of Long Pan Lu and Zhong Yang Lu, and sits on top of a small forested hill overlooking the northwest corner of Xuan Wu Hu Lake, encircled on three sides by a bulging bend in the city wall.

It can be reached on foot from either Zhong Yang Lu or Long Pan Lu, but you can’t drive a motor vehicle directly to the site, which actually helps cut down on the throngs of visitors found at Zhonghua Men. The Long Pan Lu entrance crosses a foot bridge over the Jin Chuan He river into a green park created in 2001 at the foot of the gate.  On my first visit to the site in the early 2000s this river crossing was still spanned by an abandoned railroad bridge with tracks leading to the site of the gate.

Shen Ce Men had been closed to public visitors for decades ever since the Japanese captured the city in 1937 because it was turned into a military base fuel depot at that time, and this policy was continued by the successive post-war Guomindang and Communist regimes. It was finally opened to the public on October 1, 2004.

After crossing the foot bridge over the Jin Chuan He River you turn left and walk along a path through the park, then turn right and head up hill to the outer gate in the lower, outer wall. Here there’s a new stone tablet, shi bei, stating that the gate was designated a historic site in 1988, although actually it was not restored and opened to the public until October 1, 2004. The site was still under reconstruction when I visited it in February 2004.

Passing through this outer gate you have to buy a ticket for 5 Rmb at a shack immediately inside. Then you enter the enormous open courtyard space of the barbican (weng cheng), also known as a jar town. In front of you is a massive inner wall, much higher than the lower, outer wall. To your right the outer wall serpentines around a curved bend in a highly unusual way. You turn and walk to your right for a long distance in between the two walls until you reach the much larger inner gate.

This inner gate is truly massive and its passage way actually forms a tunnel that seems to be about 100 meters long. At the north entrance there are two massive steel doors that swing open on either side. Looking up at the curved roof soaring overhead you can see sunlight pouring through the slot from which a second vertical door previously could be dropped down or pulled up. Once inside the tunnel, if you look up at the inner side of the south end of the gate you can see there is still a five-pointed red star painted overhead with the characters for Ba Yi in the center of it. Bay Yi stands for August 1st, which was the date in 1927 when the Red Army was formed in Nanchang, so this is a remnant of when Shen Ce Men was inside a military base. The floor of the tunnel has been changed from the original flag stones, probably to cover up the modern railroad tracks that were once laid there.

Once you have passed all the way through the tunnel you enter another wide open courtyard area. Walking to its far side, turning around and looking up you can see the wooden Gate Tower (Men Lou) on top of the inner gate. Facing the south side of the gate, to your right is a flight of brick steps and a smooth brick ramp beside them leading up to the top of the wall and the Gate Tower. The smooth horizontal part was for horses to ride up, just like at Zhonghua Men. If you look closely at the bricks in the steps you can see many of them still bear the original inscriptions showing who made each one of them, when, and where, which was part of the Ming quality control system. If any brick failed they could track down the person who made it and punish them.

Inside the Gate Tower on top of the inner gate is a very informative City Wall Museum, similar to the one at Tai Cheng, with old black and white photos of city gates that no longer exist and other photos showing how the existing gates used to look before. There is also a map of the whole city wall with each gate labeled by name. And, there is a lot of useful information about the history of the wall in the exhibits, but if you can’t read Chinese you’re out of luck because none of it is written in English, which is true of almost all the rest of the signage at Shen Ce Men as well.

During the 15th year of the reign of the first Qing Dynasty Emperor Shunzhi (1659) the gate’s name was changed to Victory Gate (De Sheng Men) [得胜门] to commemorate the defeat of Southern Ming loyalist Zheng Chenggong’s attempted invasion of the city at this point. This was also supposedly the spot where the Taiping rebels first penetrated the city’s defenses in 1853. Shen Ce Men was once again renamed as the Peace Gate (He Ping Men) [和平门] in 1928 by the newly established Guomindang central government, and in April 1929 Hu Hanmin, then head of the Legislative Yuan, wrote a new signboard for it, but later it reverted back to its original name after its 2004 restoration.

At the time of my last visit in July 2012, it was still not possible to walk along the top of the city wall from Shen Ce Men to Xuan Wu Men, the next city gate to the south along the lake shore, because a locked steel gate blocked the way. A sign on the gate says that the area on the other side of it still belongs to the Nanjing Military District (Nanjing Jun Qu) [南京军区]. However, workers could be seen restoring that section of city wall, so it’s possible that it may be reopened to the public in the near future.

Something for visitors to keep in mind is that there are no vendors or shops selling any food or drinks of any kind anywhere inside the park or within the Shen Ce Men walled fortress. The last stop for drinks is a small shop across the bridge from the park right on Long Pan Lu. Stalking up on cold bottles of water here before you proceed could mean the difference between life and death on a blistering hot 37 degree Celsius day like the last time when I was there.

Qing Liang Men

This is an original single portal 14th century Ming Dynasty city gate built in 1368 facing the Qinhuai River. However, it is less impressive than either Zhong Hua Men or Shen Ce Men because it has no barbican fortress (weng cheng). It stands near the intersection of Huju Lu and Guangzhou Lu at the south end of the Stone CityPark (Shi Tou Cheng Gongyuan) completed along the western city wall and Qin Huai He River in February 2004. You can enter Shi Tou Cheng Park from here and walk along the Qin Huai River all the way to the Ghost Face (Gui Lian) section of the city wall to the northwest. Qing Liang Men is named after the nearly Qing Liang Shan.

Zhongshan Men (Chao Yang Men)

This three-portal gate is connected to a long section of the city wall at the eastern end of the city and sits astride Zhongshan Dong Lu. The original Ming Dynasty Chao Yang Men was a singl portal gate, but it was enlarged to three portals in 1928 to facilitate the movement of Sun Zhongshan’s 1929 funeral procession through the city and onward to his tomb on Zijin Shan. It was renamed Zhongshan Men at the same time in commemoration of Sun. Zhongshan Gate suffered severe damage during the December 1937 Japanese attack. After their December 13, 1937 capture of the city, the Japanese held a victory parade through Zhongshan Men, much as the Germans later did with the Arche de Triumphe in Paris. Photos dated 1939 show Zhongshan Men still standing with all three of its arched portals intact, but two of them have had the exterior brick wall blown off, and only one is completely unscathed.

Facing to the East, it provides the main access to Ming Ling Lu, the road to the Ming Tombs, which branches off to your left immediately after passing through the gate on your way out of the city. On the city side of the wall, right next to the gate, sit the Nanjing Museum and the Hilton Hotel.

You can climb a flight of stone steps to the top of the gate for free. On a clear day there is an excellent view of Zijin Shan in one direction and the long expanse of tree-lined Zhongshan Dong Lu in the other. Facing West and looking to your right you see what looks like a lake but is actually remnants of the old city moat, Yue Ya Hu Cheng He.

To your left, cross the gate and follow the wall, passing through a hole in a newer brick wall meant to block access. You can follow a section of wild wall which has not been restored and is covered with vines, trees and bushes. This section of the wall parallels Ming Ling Lu below and runs until it collapses into Qian Hu. The site of this immense gap in the wall from the shores of Qian Hu is truly impressive. After this gap, the wall picks up again and continues past Piba Hu, around a hill and down to the former site of Tai Ping Men.

The single arched portal Chao Yang Men was renamed Zhongshan Men in 1929, but was not rebuilt into a three-arch gate until 1931.

Wu Chao Men (Meridian Gate)

This massive fortress-like gate sits on the grounds of the old Ming Imperial Palace (Ming Gu Gong), near the interstection of Ming Gu Gong Lu and Zhongshan Dong Lu, at the north end of the former Imperial Way (Yu Dao Jie). Technically speaking, this gate was not part of the city wall, but a part of the separate Ming emperor’s palace. For more details see the separate section on the former Ming Imperial Palace (Ming Gu Gong).

Dong Shui Guan (East Water Gate)

An original Ming Dynasty water gate, its purpose was to let water flow in and out of the city, passing through the city wall, without compromising the city’s defenses. In this sense, it is reminiscent of the Pan Men in Suzhou. The Dong Shui Dam (Dong Shui Guan), was where the Qin Huai He entered the city from the east. Made of stone blocks, it was 16 meters high with 33 archways and two flood gates. Historic photos show it still intact as late as 1932. In 2000-2001 it was rebuilt with a park around it.

Qing Dynasty City Gates:

Two new city gates were built during the Qing Dynasty, and of these only one still survives.

Xuan Wu Men (Feng Run Men)

Construction of this gate was begun in 1909 and completed in 1910, just before the 1911 Revolution (Xin Hai Geming) which overthrew the Qing Dynasty, in order to provide access to the five islands and lake shore of Xuan Wu Hu, which had just been turned into a public park. Formerly the area had been a private retreat for the Emperor and imperial family. In fact, public access to the lake had been almost physically impossible due to the absence of any city gates in the long section of wall running along the lake shore from Shen Ce Men to Tai Ping Men. It was originally named for the city governor who completed its construction, but the name was changed to Xuan Wu Men in 1931 when two more arched portals were added. The distinct outline of this gate, with its twin towers and three portals, can be seen from the islands in the lake. It can be approached on foot from the causeway linking it with Huan Zhou Island or by car via a short road that branches off of Zhongyang Lu, near the Xuanwu Hotel.

You can also walk to it along the city wall from the Tai Cheng/Jiefang Men area to the south, or vice versa.  However, as of now you can not walk along the city wall from Xuan Wu Men to Shen Ci Men in the north.  

Republican Era City Gates:

Five new city gates were built during the 1911-1949 Republic of China (Min Guo), and of these three are still standing. Another city gate was built shortly after the founding of the People’s Republic of China and is still standing.

Han Zhong Men (Han Xi Men)

Han Zhong Men was built in 1931 north of the Han Xi Men, an original 14th century Ming Dynasty city gate built in 1366. It now sits disconnected from the city wall in a park at the intersection of Huju Nan Lu, Huju Lu and Hanzhong Lu. The park was built in 1996. It is surrounded on three sides by city wall, which once formed a barbican or Weng cheng (Jar City) similar to those still found at Zhonghua Men and Shen Ce Men. The gate itself has one portal, which forms a long tunnel through the base of a high, square fortress. The fortress can be ascended by a flight of steps on one side. From the top you can see the Qin Huai River and Mochou Hu Park. There is no ticket required for admission. The site is quite near the Sheraton Hotel on Hanzhong Lu.

Yi Jiang Men (Hai Ling Men)

This three-portal gate sits astride Zhongshan Bei Lu, facing west to the Yangzi River. When it was built during the republican era in 1915 its original name was Hai Ling Men, but this was changed to Yi Jiang Men in 1928. In the same year the gate had to be widened in order to allow for the 1929 funeral procession of Sun Zhongshan to pass through on its way from the Yangzi waterfront to Zijin Shan. Today, the gate is still connected to the city wall on both sides, and has three portals, through which modern day traffic travels. Climb the steps to the right and purchase a ticket for 3 Rmb, then walk across to the top of the gate. A large wooden-pillared building sits on top. The inside of the pavilion contains a photo exhibition of communist party propaganda celebrating their 1949 victory.

Walk around the building for incredible views of wooded winding bends in the former city moat below. Face west, and to your left you can see Lion Peak (Shizi Shan) and the enormous new Yue Jiang Lou pavilion which has been built on top of it. To your right are two small hills forming a series of bluffs overlooking the moat. The second hill is Ding Shan, atop which sits not only the hotel of the same name, but three houses dating from the early 1900s which were formerly occupied by a community of treaty port foreigners who fled during the Guomindang occupation of the city in 1927.

Back on Zhongshan Bei Lu, a narrow alley branches off from the left side of the road and heads up to a hilltop pagoda from which you can look down on Yi Jiang Men and across at Lion Peak (Shizi Shan). Unfortunately, the city wall cannot be followed any further in this direction due to modern day buildings blocking the way.

Return to Zhongshan Bei Lu and pass through the gate, immediately to your right on the other side of the gate sits Xiu Qu Park. A fairly new park having been built in 1952, it has a lake and offers some views of the city wall section which connects with Yi Jiang Men. Buy a ticket at the gate.

Across the road from Xiu Qu Park, a narrow lane (Xiao Tao Yuan Xi Jie) branches off of Zhongshan Bei Lu and runs along a narrow strip of land in between the city wall and the former city moat. You can follow this for a while for sights of the city wall up above, but eventually the lane stops at a dead end.

Xin Min Men

This gate was built in 1931. It is still standing today. However its concrete archway is unimpressive looking and not really worth the time to visit.

The Liberation Gate (Jiefang Men)

This is the newest of the city gates, having been built in 1952. It is one of the two gateway’s allowing access from the city to Xuan Wu Hu Park. It sits astride Jiming Si Lu, which runs from He Ping Lu, which connects with Beijing Dong Lu via Shi Zeng Fu Lu. Connected to the wall from the city side is Ji Ming Si Buddhist Temple, sitting atop its hill. On the other side is an area enclosed by sections of the wall on two sides which is known as Tai City (Tai Cheng). Tai Cheng was the site of the imperial palaces of the emperors who ruled Nanjing during the Eastern Jin (317-420 A.D.), Liu Song (420-479 A.D.) Qi (479-502 A.D.) Liang (502-557 A.D.) and Chen (557-589 A.D.), dynasties, although nothing remains of them now. Passing through the Jiefang Men, immediately to your right is a second smaller gate known as Xiao Xuan Wu Men which provides pedestrian access through the city wall to Xuan Wu Hu Lake Park. You can buy a ticket here to either walk around the lake shore or cross one of the three causeways that connect with the five islands in the middle of the lake. Straight ahead is a steep brick staircase and sharp sloping section of the wall which lead you to the City Wall Museum (Cheng Qiang Bowuguan) which sits atop Jiefang Men.

Nanjing City Wall Museums (Cheng Qiang Bowuguan).

On top of the Liberation Gate (Jiefang Men), located in the Tai Cheng area surrounded by two sections of city wall on either side, there is a small pavilion housing a City Wall Museum (Cheng Qiang Bowugan). The museum has exhibits of old photos of long-gone city gates plus a scale model of the entire Ming walled city. Buy a ticket at the bottom of the steps at #8 Jiefang Lu and then climb a long flight of stairs to the top of the lower, outer city wall from which you ascend further up a steeply inclined ramp to the top of Jiefang Men and the much higher inner city wall.

From the museum you can follow the city wall all the way to Xiao Jiu Hua Shan and the former site of Taiping Men to the east, or walk along it to Xuanwu Men in the north. On a sunny day there are excellent views of the pagoda tower of Jiming Si Buddhist Temple, Zijin Shan Mountain and Xuanwu Hu Lake from the top of these sections of city wall.

Note that there is now a second Nanjing City Wall Museum located inside the Men Lou on top of the inner gate of Shen Ce Men at the north end of the city near the intersection of Long Pan Lu and Zhong Yang Lu.

Ruins of the Ming Imperial Palace (Ming Gu Gong)

Located at the intersection of Zhongshan Dong Lu and Minggugong Lu, at the northern end of the former Imperial Way (Yu Dao Jie). This is where the founder of the Ming Dynasty, the Hongwu Emperor, aka Zhu Yuanzhang, had his imperial palace built over an eleven-year period from 1366 to 1377. Unfortunately, the original palace was completely destroyed during the fighting that took place in 1402 when Zhu Yuanzhang’s son Zhu Di, the future Emperor Yong Le, captured the city from Zhu Yuanzhang’s grandson, Emperor Jian Wen. Although the palace was later rebuilt, all the buildings were destroyed again between 1853-1864 during the ten-year occupation of the city by the Taiping rebels.

The Meridian Gate (Wu Chao Men) is now the main surviving historic relic located on this site. As you enter from Zhongshan Dong Lu, trees and thick foliage block your view of the gate, making the area look like an unassuming park. However, continue walking south until you reach a series of five parallel stone bridges, which lead to the five gates of this immense Ming Dynasty fortress.

In 1984 the parapet atop the gate was reconstructed and two flights of brick steps were built leading up both sides of the rectangular fortress, allowing you to ascend to its flat top for a view of Zijin Shan. The top of the gate is still embedded with long rows of stone pedestals that once supported the wooded columns of now long-gone watch towers and pavilions. While ascending or descending the steps, notice how each brick is stamped with information about who made it, when and where.

The plaza along Zhongshan Dong Lu was established during a May 1997 reconstruction of the park grounds and is a good place to see local people practicing their wushu and ballroom dance steps in the early morning and evening.

As of July 2012 some positive changes to the site include the removal of the KTV Bar that had been installed in one of the side gates in 2001, and the cancellation of the admission charge, which is now free.

Stone CityPark (Shi Tou Cheng Gongyuan)

This beautiful park along the western city wall and Qinhuai River was opened in February 2004. You can enter Shi Tou Cheng Park at its northwestern end from Shi Tou Cheng Lu and walk along the Qinhuai River all the way to the Qing Liang Men city gate. It’s also possible to walk along the top of this whole section of renovated city wall all the way from the National Defense Park (Guo Fang Yuan) on a hilltop above the Stone City to Qing Liang Men at the southeast end of the Stone City Park. The most impressive part of this section of the city wall is known as the Ghost Face (Gui Lian). Here you can see rippling waves of different colored stone and bricks visually depicting the various layers of the city wall built at different points in history. The Ghost Face (Gui Lian) is a section of the original Wu Kingdom city wall that bulges out in bizarre and grotesque shapes that some say resembles the face of a ghost. Above this section of wall a reconstructed model of a watchtower has been built, and down below the whole Ghost Face (Gui Lian) section of wall is reflected in the surface of a newly built lake.

This whole area has gone through an incredible transformation since I first visited it in the year 2000. Back then it was crammed packed with shanty town houses and coal-belching smokestacks of factories were built right up against the city wall. The Ghost Face (Gui Lian) was then entirely hidden from view by the surrounding factories and houses, and Shi Tou Cheng Lu ran along the river where the green park now lies. Now the road dead ends at the northwestern end of the park. Green grass and flowering trees grow where shanty town shacks and factories once stood. The park covers an area of 5 hectares.

A Map of the Nanjing City Wall.

A Map of the Nanjing City Wall.

A Map of the Nanjing City Wall From the Worcester Manuscript.

A Map of the Nanjing City Wall From the Worcester Manuscript.

Nanjing City Wall Map Carved in Stone

Nanjing City Wall Map Carved in Stone

A Metal Map of Part of the Nanjing City Wall Along Xuanwu Lake.

A Metal Map of Part of the Nanjing City Wall Along Xuanwu Lake.

Historic Photo of the South City Gate, Ju Bao Men, aka Zhong Hua Men.

Historic Photo of the South City Gate, Ju Bao Men, aka Zhong Hua Men.

Map of the South City Gate, Jubao Men, aka Zhonghua Men.

Map of the South City Gate, Jubao Men, aka Zhonghua Men.

The North Entrance to Ju Bao Men, aka Zhong Hua Men.

The North Entrance to Ju Bao Men, aka Zhong Hua Men.

Central corridor through three of the four main portals of the fortress known as Ju Bao Men aka Zhong Hua Men.

Central corridor through three of the four main portals of the fortress known as Ju Bao Men aka Zhong Hua Men.

The first portal of Zhong Hua Men at its north end.

The first portal of Zhong Hua Men at its north end.

The two southern portals of Zhong Hua Men.

The two southern portals of Zhong Hua Men.

The southern fortifications of Zhong Hua Men.

The southern fortifications of Zhong Hua Men.

Southeastern corner of the main fortress of Zhong Hua Men.

Southeastern corner of the main fortress of Zhong Hua Men.

Ditto

Ditto

The southern courtyard of Zhong Hua Men.

The southern courtyard of Zhong Hua Men.

Bricks stamped with when and where they were made and by whom.  Ming Dynasty quality control system.

Bricks stamped with when and where they were made and by whom. Ming Dynasty quality control system.

The southern fortress of Zhong Hua Men.

The southern fortress of Zhong Hua Men.

View from the top of the Zhong Hua Men fortress.

View from the top of the Zhong Hua Men fortress.

Looking downward into the southern courtyard of Zhong Hua Men.

Looking downward into the southern courtyard of Zhong Hua Men.

A diagonal horse road (ma dao) runs up the east side of Zhong Hua Men.

A diagonal horse road (ma dao) runs up the east side of Zhong Hua Men.

Ditto.

Ditto.

The southern entrance to the Zhong Hua Men fortress, facing the Qin Huai He.

The southern entrance to the Zhong Hua Men fortress, facing the Qin Huai He.

The Qin Huai He city moat outside the Zhong Hua Men.

The Qin Huai He city moat outside the Zhong Hua Men.

Historic photo of Tong Ji Men, which sadly no longer exists.

Historic photo of Tong Ji Men, which sadly no longer exists.

The Tai Cheng double walled area with Jiefang Men city gate in the center.

The Tai Cheng double walled area with Jiefang Men city gate in the center.

A close up of Jiefang Men from within the Tai Cheng area.  The city wall museum is inside the pavilion atop the wall in the upper left corner of the photo, reached by walking up the diagonal ramp.

A close up of Jiefang Men from within the Tai Cheng area. The city wall museum is inside the pavilion atop the wall in the upper left corner of the photo, reached by walking up the diagonal ramp

The approach to the city wall museum.

The approach to the city wall museum.

The city wall along Xuanwu Lake, heading north to Xuanwu Men.

The city wall along Xuanwu Lake, heading north to Xuanwu Men.

The outer entrance gate leading into the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The outer entrance gate leading into the Shen Ce Men fortress.

Shen Ce Men inscription is dated on the right as Min Guo Shi Ba Nian, Si Yue.

Shen Ce Men inscription is dated on the right as Min Guo Shi Ba Nian, Si Yue.

View of the inner wall of Shen Ce Men from its outer courtyard.

View of the inner wall of Shen Ce Men from its outer courtyard.

The inner side of the curved outer wall of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The inner side of the curved outer wall of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The outer courtyard of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The outer courtyard of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The outer courtyard of the Shen Ce Men fortress, showing the double walls.

The outer courtyard of the Shen Ce Men fortress, showing the double walls.

The inner rock wall of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The inner rock wall of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

Inner side of the outer gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

Inner side of the outer gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

Approaching the outer side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

Approaching the outer side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The outer side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The outer side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The outer side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The outer side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

A close up of the outer side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

A close up of the outer side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The tunnel through the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The tunnel through the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The tunnel through the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The tunnel through the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The tunnel through the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The tunnel through the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress.

The iron gates of the inner gate of Shen Ce Men.

The iron gates of the inner gate of Shen Ce Men.

The iron gates of the inner gate of Shen Ce Men.

The iron gates of the inner gate of Shen Ce Men.

The iron gates of the inner gate of Shen Ce Men.

The iron gates of the inner gate of Shen Ce Men.

The Ba Yi symbol inside the inner gate of Shen Ce Men is a relic from when the fortress was a PLA military base.  The Red Army was founded on August 1st.

The Ba Yi symbol inside the inner gate of Shen Ce Men is a relic from when the fortress was a PLA military base. The Red Army was founded on August 1st.

The tunnel of the inner gate of Shen Ce Men seen from the inner side.

The tunnel of the inner gate of Shen Ce Men seen from the inner side.

The inner side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress with its wooden gate tower (men lou) on top, as seen from the inner courtyard.

The inner side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress with its wooden gate tower (men lou) on top, as seen from the inner courtyard.

The inner side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress with its wooden gate tower (men lou) on top, as seen from the inner courtyard.

The inner side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress with its wooden gate tower (men lou) on top, as seen from the inner courtyard.

The inner side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress with its wooden gate tower (men lou) on top, as seen from the inner courtyard.

The inner side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress with its wooden gate tower (men lou) on top, as seen from the inner courtyard.

The inner side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress with its wooden gate tower (men lou) on top, as seen from the inner courtyard.

The inner side of the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress with its wooden gate tower (men lou) on top, as seen from the inner courtyard.

View of the outer courtyard and outer wall of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

View of the outer courtyard and outer wall of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

View of the outer courtyard, outer wall, and outer gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

View of the outer courtyard, outer wall, and outer gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

View of the outer courtyard, outer wall, and outer gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

View of the outer courtyard, outer wall, and outer gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

View of the outer courtyard, outer wall, and outer gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

View of the outer courtyard, outer wall, and outer gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

View of the outer courtyard, outer wall, and outer gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

View of the outer courtyard, outer wall, and outer gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

View of the outer courtyard and outer wall of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

View of the outer courtyard and outer wall of the Shen Ce Men fortress as seen from the top of the inner wall.

Closed section of city wall leading from Shen Ce Men to Xuan Wu Men.  Sign on the metal fence says it's a military area.

Closed section of city wall leading from Shen Ce Men to Xuan Wu Men. Sign on the metal fence says its a military area.

The foot bridge over the Jin Chuan He leading to the Shen Ce Men fortress hidden in the trees atop the grassy knoll.

The foot bridge over the Jin Chuan He leading to the Shen Ce Men fortress hidden in the trees atop the grassy knoll.

The foot bridge over the Jin Chuan He leading to the Shen Ce Men fortress hidden in the trees atop the grassy knoll.

The foot bridge over the Jin Chuan He leading to the Shen Ce Men fortress hidden in the trees atop the grassy knoll.

The gate tower (men lou) atop the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress, behind two layers of brick and stone walls, atop a forested hill across the Jin Chuan River.

The gate tower (men lou) atop the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress, behind two layers of brick and stone walls, atop a forested hill across the Jin Chuan River.

The gate tower (men lou) atop the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress, behind two layers of brick and stone walls, atop a forested hill across the Jin Chuan River.

The gate tower (men lou) atop the inner gate of the Shen Ce Men fortress, behind two layers of brick and stone walls, atop a forested hill across the Jin Chuan River.

 

Wu Chao Men

 

Wu Chao Men

 
 

Wu Chao Men

 

Wu Chao Men

 
 

 

Wu Chao Men

 

Wu Chao Men

 
 
 

About YangziMan

I'm a U.S. citizen who has spent the last 14 years living, working, and traveling in China continuously without a break. I have written five books about China for overseas publishers, and a host of scholarly articles for academic journals such as the Royal Asiatic Society and China Heritage Quarterly. Visit My Amazon.com Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/ericdanielson
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