About Tuancheng Fortress
The Tuancheng Fortress or Tuan Cheng Fortress (literally ‘Round Wall Fortress’) is an 18th century fortress situated near the Fragrant Hills in the Haidian District of Beijing, China. Built in 1749, the 14th year of the Qianlong Emperor’s reign, Tuancheng served as a military compound used by the Qing to train, inspect, and honour their troops.
Today, the fortress is extremely well-preserved and is both a national museum and known as the Tuancheng Exhibition Hall.
Tuancheng Fortress history
The reign of the Qianlong Emperor lasted between 1735 and 1796, and marked a period of particular prosperity during the Qing dynasty – China’s last imperial dynasty. Qianlong was a successful military leader, having been present at military strategy meetings alongside his father and predecessor.
Immediately after gaining the throne he sent armies to suppress the Miao rebellion and later campaigns greatly expanded the Qing territory in. China, partially facilitated by Qing military strength.
Undoubtedly, Tuancheng Fortress was the result of Qianlong’s period of economic prosperity and focus on military might. The castle-style fortress was a great spectacle, featuring a large circular drill hall called the ‘Peach Garden’ surrounded by a moat.
The design of the watch towers was said to be based on the local watchtowers built to resist Qing expansion. Qianlong had the tower design replicated at Tuancheng and trained a special troop known as the Smart Scaling Ladder Troop, who learnt to traverse such watch towers.
The fortress was built at the foot of the West Hill in Beijing, south of the Xiangshan or Fragrant Hills Park which was at the time, a beautiful and immense imperial pleasure park. Together, the fortress and park were an important show of Qing wealth and strength.
Tuancheng Fortress today
The immense castellated fortress continues to dominate the surrounding area, a lasting reminder of China’s Qing past. For 40 RMB you can enter the round-walled fort and visit the south city gate tower which functions as a temporary exhibition hall, displaying historical materials of the Tuan Cheng Fortress, including copies of imperial couches, battle-axes, gongs, umbrellas, fans and weapons of the Qianlong reign.
Note the portrait of Emperor Qianlong, done by Italian artists Lan Shining. The fortress also continues to put on impressive military parades as it did during the Qianlong period. Visitors might catch a large-scale martial arts event, which draws viewers from across China.
Getting to Tuancheng Fortress
The easiest way of getting to Tuancheng Fortress is via bus numbers 318, 360, 505, 714 and Yuntong 112. From Beijing city centre, the fortress is about a 40 minute drive or taxi ride via the S50 route.