Located in Miyun county, 110 kilometers north-east of the city, the Simatai Great Wall is the best preserved section of the wall around Beijing. Most of this section is original, dating back to the Ming dynasty, around the 15th and 16th century. This section of the wall has some unusual features, like "obstacle-walls" (or "walls-within-walls") - used for fighting back the enemy who had already scaled the wall. Bricks, engraved with Chinese characters give record of their manufacturing date and maker and are hardly ever seen in other sections of the wall, mirroring a part of history.
At a small reservoir most visitors turn to the right to see the eastern part of the wall. Evenly spaced watchtowers allow to keep count of one's progress uphill along the ridge (the less energetic can take the cable car to the eighth tower). The walk gets increasingly perilous after about the tenth tower. A long slope, known as "the heavenly ladder", has a 70-degree incline and both hands are needed. After that the wall narrows further including one of the narrowest crossings over a one metre wide ridge, known as "the heavenly bridge". It has a 500m drop on both sides. A stunning scene comes into view near the highest peak. There is only a thin wall as the narrow ridge didn't allow the construction of a proper wall.
The western part of Simatai connects with Jinshanling, the other section of the wall. It has nineteen well-preserved watchtowers. Engraved bricks can be easily found as well. One of such engravings reads - "Made by the Left Camp of Shandong in the 6th Year of the Reign of Wanli".
The Simatai section is notable for its varied walls and towers, not to mention its unspoiled character. It's also an UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.