Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Jacob. Jacob Wonders, “How beautiful is China?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Jacob!
Do you have a bucket list of places around the world you would like to visit during your lifetime? What would your list include? The Eiffel Tower? Mt. Everest? Timbuktu? As you think about the many places your quest to see the sights of the world could take you, don't forget to include China.
In addition to the Great Wall of China, you'll want to find your way to Zhangjiajie in China's Hunan province. From there, it's just a short trip to visit Tianmen Mountain, home of the famous "Heaven's Gate."
When you glimpse the huge, gaping hole known as Tianmen Cave, you'll understand why its nickname is Heaven's Gate. It was a normal cave until 263 A.D., when one of the mountain's huge cliffs collapsed and took the back side of the cave with it.
What's left is now the world's highest, naturally-formed arch (approximately 5,000 feet in elevation) that creates a massive opening (430 feet tall and 190 feet wide) that looks like a portal to another world.
There are a couple of ways to reach Heaven's Gate. Many visitors choose the Tianmen Mountain Cableway. The world's longest aerial tramway ride begins in Zhangjiajie and takes about 30 minutes to travel over four miles to the top of the mountain. Along the way, you'll be treated to incredible views of sheer cliffs as the tram ascends at a steep angle of about 37 degrees.
If the line for the tram is too long, you can always take a bus to the base of the mountain. And if you think that sounds boring, think again. The narrow road to the base of the mountain features the "99 Bends," which are 99 sharp curves that switchback up the mountain.
When the bus drops you off, you'll have just one last obstacle before you can walk through Heaven's Gate: the "Stairway to Heaven." It's quite a climb. The stairway that leads to Heaven's Gate consists of 999 steps!
Three of these walkways are made of glass. With names like "Coiled Dragon Cliff Glass Walkway" and "The Walk of Faith," they're not for the faint of heart. Can you imagine staring straight down thousands of feet as you walk on clear glass along the edge of a cliff?