Yongtai Fortress is a village and turtle-shaped historical fortress town in Gansu, China. Built in 1608 by the Ming dynasty rulers to defend against attacks from northern minorities, it stationed 2000 infantrymen and 500 cavalry units. The entire fort is enclosed by a rammed earth wall including defensive towers. Due to desertification, the village is now mostly abandoned, dropping from 1500 people in the 1950s to around 100 today.
The entire fort is enclosed by a rammed earth wall including defensive towers
Girdled by 12-meter wall structures totaling 1.7 kilometers in length, the Yongtai Fortress looks like a turtle when seen from above and is thus dubbed “the turtle city”. In 2006, it was listed as a state-level key cultural relics protection unit. Double walls ringed the city gates – a common defensive strategy – and only after visitors had entered the outer enclosure were the gates of the inner wall opened. Another defensive measure was the moat. Water surrounded the fortress. Now dry, but once 6 meters wide and 2.5 meters deep; so enough to avoid swimming with steel stuff while averting arrows to the head. While the moat has unfortunately dried up, the imposing city walls and the ancient houses that lie within them have been beautifully well-preserved and offer a stunning insight into China’s history. What is perhaps most impressive is that many of these constructions were made using loess soil, which has been packed together tightly to form a stable structure.