World Heritage: Fortification

Click here for the background on my World Heritage Sites roundup.

Fortification

5 sites

7

Mutianyu Great Wall

Last visited: May 17, 2013

Surprisingly empty as most Chinese tour groups only visit the Badaling section of the wall. Mutianyu is the perfect introduction to the Great Wall, which spans across more than 8,000km from Gansu to Liaoning in northern China. If you like the unrestored portion of the wall, you can bring a pair of sturdy boots and challenge Jiankou or Simatai on a future trip. You prefer a fully restored version? Then you have already seen the best in Mutianyu.

I would have enjoyed my visit more if Beijing’s infamous smog had not limited visibility to a few dozen meters.

5

Himeji-jō

Last visited: April 4, 2015

The most famous Japanese castle, after visiting this one you can probably skip the rest unless you have a strong affiliation to this kind of architecture.

Designed as both a royal residence and a fortress, the current complex, located atop Himeyama Hill, dates back to 1333 and has undergone several extensive expansions. Behind its formidable central moat (the outer moat is now buried) is a complex of 83 buildings including a three-story castle, storehouses, gates, corridors, and turrets. Traps, archers stations and gates form a substantive pre-firearm defensive system, one that stayed untested as the castle was never attacked. The interior of the residence is dark and unventilated, just like any other Japanese castles.

Hwaseong

Last visited: April 6, 2014

Located an hour south by train in the city of Suwon, Hwaseong is a 18th century-built wall that completely surrounds the city centre. Long been obsolete, the wall is a rarity in modern Asia which prizes urban development space as a premium. Nowadays instead of the wall protecting its city, it is a sprawling mass of skyscrapers and low-rises that stretches out to the end of the horizon.

3

Tower of London

Last visited: August 18, 2007

The £17 admission price screamed rip-off, but I chose to be a sucker and paid up. Its overpriced admission fee left a bad taste in my mouth and I wasn’t particularly captivated by any of its buildings or its narrative of past bloodiness. People who love jewelry should find interest in its Crown Jewelry collection.

2

Kaiping Diaolou

Last visited: June 15, 2012

There are too many similar buildings all over Guangdong; if not for its World Heritage status these buildings would have a hard time standing out.

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