About Wanping Castle
Wanping Fortress, also known as Wanping Castle is a Ming Dynasty fortress or ‘walled city’ in Beijing.
History of Wanping Fortress
It was erected in 1638–1640 by the last Ming emperor, Chongzen, with the purpose of defending Beijing against Li Zicheng and the peasant uprising, which occurred as a result of famine and unrest in China at the time. Ultimately, the construction of Wanping was unsuccessful – the rebels proved a force to be reckoned with and Chongzen killed himself rather than endure capture, humiliation and likely death at their hands.
The fortress has two gates. The east gate, named Ever Prosperous Gate, then renamed as Majestic Gate and the west gate, named Favorably Govern Gate. In Chinese, the fortress is sometimes called Wanping City, as from the beginning, it functioned as a military fortress. From west to east, it measures 640 meters (2,100 ft), and from south to the north 320 meters (1,050 ft), making it a half-square shape.
Wanping Fortress today
Most of the old town and fortress has been subsumed into wider Beijing, but the impressive 6m high town walls still exist – evidence of battle scars on them is easy to find.
The Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, surrounded by a plaza and park with numerous sculptures, occupies a large portion of the space inside the fortress’ walls. Whilst the museum is full of propaganda, it’s also well-put together and thought out: well worth an hour of your time.
To the west of the fortress are the Yongding River and the Lugou Bridge (Marco Polo Bridge).
Getting to Wanping Fortress
Wanping is in the south west of modern day Beijing. To get to the historic part of town, take bus 339 from the Wanpingchen subway exit.
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