Another section of China's ancient Great Wall north of Peking will be opened on Oct. 1, providing a new destination for tourists. The authorities have renovated a one-mile-long stretch at Mutianyu, in the hills northeast of the Chinese capital.
The wall, snaking through the mountains of north China, was started more than 2,000 years ago and is a monument to China's traditional fear of barbarians to the north.
The first thing that strikes the eye about the new part of the wall is that it is free of the graffiti covering the wall at Badaling, where thousands of visitors have succumbed to the urge to engrave their names in the 500-year-old stonework.
Although more scenically spectacular, the new section of wall is harder work than the old section.
A cable car is due to open next year, but for now the visitor must clamber up 1,234 steps from the village below to reach the battlements.
And to make things easier, visitors can rent donkeys to carry picnic baskets and other essentials up the steep slope.
The 3,500-mile-long Great Wall has suffered serious vandalism in the past two decades, with peasants and even Army units pulling whole sections apart to use the stones as building materials.
More than half the length of the wall within the greater Peking municipality has been pulled down in the last 15 years.
At the new section of wall workmen are preparing the restaurants, shops, parking lots, and stalls that now accompany such tourist attractions in China as they do in the rest of the world.