China has commenced a major project to restore the western end of the Great Wall. The project, in northwest China’s Gansu province, kicked off on Friday and will see restoration work carried out on sections of Great Wall in the city of Jiayuguan, including the Jiayu Pass – the starting point of a section of the Great Wall constructed during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
China’s state media agency, Xinhua reported that the work will also include the construction of a “world cultural heritage theme park and a heritage inspection centre”. The project will cost an estimated CNY2 billion (US$319 million).
The Gansu project is the latest in a series of upgrades to the UNESCO-listed Great Wall. In August 2010, authorities in Liaoning province, at the eastern end of the wall, began a CNY30 million project to restore the Hushan section of the Wall, which stretches along the border between China and North Korea. Like the Gansu project, the Liaoning restoration also included upgrades to the area’s tourism facilities.
The most popular section of the wall for tourists – the Badaling area north of Beijing – was upgraded in 2009.
Built in 1372, the Jiayu Pass served as a major transit route on the ancient Silk Road. It last underwent repairs in the late 1980s when the Chinese government invested CNY10 million repairing sections of Great Wall on both sides of the pass.
The Great Wall of China measures 8,851.8km and passes through 10 Chinese provinces and regions including Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai. The earliest sections date back to the fifth century BC, with construction continuing up until the 16th century AD.