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Legends and leisure mix in Qinhuangdao

 Legends and leisure mix in Qinhuangdao

Gate to Shanhaiguan Pass.


Qinhuangdao, 270 km east of Beijing, will host 12 Olympic soccer games in August, but that will not be the first time the city has been in the limelight over its long history.

Named after the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (211-206 BC) Qinshihuang, who started the Great Wall, Qinhuangdao is noted as the place from which the emperor sent explorers to sea looking for the immortals, according to legends.

Though the journey failed, the area's friendly climate, expansive beaches and historic Great Wall have made it popular holiday destination.

The city has 126 km of coastline that has a number of resorts including Beidaihe, Nandaihe and Changli.

Beidaihe in particular is acclaimed for its beaches and a pleasant climate that averages 24.5 C in summer.

The coast was designated by the Qing government as a summer resort open to foreigners in 1898.

By 1938 the number of villas in Beidaihe surpassed 700, their owners from different countries building in various architecture styles that remain today.

New hotels and recreational facilities have been added since 1949, when it became a favorite summer retreat for government officials.

 Legends and leisure mix in Qinhuangdao

1. Summer resort Beidaihe

2. Olympic stadium

3. Laolongtou, the eastern end of the Great Wall, built in the Ming Dynasty

Today new hotels, restaurants and bars catering to visitors from home and abroad continue to enhance amenities at the famous coastal resort.

Local authorities have developed a new tourist destination at Nandaihe linked with Beidaihe by a bridge.

Sunbathing, sports and fishing - as well as fresh seafood - add the appeal of the area's beaches.

The two coastal zones offer not only sun and surf, but also prime bird-watching locales.

Thanks to clean air, expansive forest coverage and extensive wetlands, natural bird reserves provide habitat for hundreds of species.

First Pass

Known as the First Pass under Heaven, Shanhaiguan Pass 15 km east of urban Qinhuangdao is famed for its strategic importance in ancient times.

Built in 583, the pass was improved by various rulers until it was transformed into a formidable military stronghold during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

As the strategic passage between north and northeast China, Shanhaiguan was seen as key to defense against nomadic northern tribes. It was the site of many historic battles and left heroic legends that linger today.

Beyond Shanhaiguan Pass, the Great Wall stretches eastward until it dips into the sea at a place called Laolongtou - Old Dragon's Head.

If the Great Wall is likened to a huge dragon meandering through the mountains, Laolongtou is its head facing the sea.

The military outpost was seriously damaged by shelling when an allied force from eight countries landed and invaded China in 1900.

The local government began restoring the ancient defensive complex in 1985. The National Tourism Administration rated it as a 4-A scenic spot in 2001.

Qinhuangdao was among the first 14 of Chinese coastal cities to open up following reforms.

 Legends and leisure mix in Qinhuangdao

Bird habitat

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