OVER the past decade a lot landscape architecture for sightseeing purposes has sprung up in different parts of the world. For instance, Austria completed the Top of Tyrol project and the Dachstein Sky Walk in 2008 and 2010 respectively. In 2002, Norway launched an 18-year architectural program to promote its natural beauty, and it finished the Aurland Lookout in 2006. In the Americas, the U.S. opened the Great Canyon Skywalk in 2007, and Brazil and Argentina co-built the Hanging Platform of Iguazu Waterfalls in 2010.
On November 9, 2011, China unveiled the glass walkway of the Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie, Hunan. Standing at roughly 4,700 feet above sea level, it is one of the world’s highest observation platforms.
Roughly 200 feet in length, it braces the cliff face of the Tianmen Mountain, enabling an unobstructed view of the nearby scenery as well as an unusual panorama straight down the cliff.
To walk on it takes some courage and a spirit for adventure. As required by park regulations, tourists to the site have to wear anti-slip shoe covers, which also serve to minimize dust on the acrylic glass planks.
The walkway is a valuable addition to the attractions of the Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park, which is only 7 miles from the downtown area of Zhangjiajie, a prefecture-level city most famous for the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in the north.
Leading up to the Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park is Tongtian Avenue. It winds its way around the mountainous terrain like a snake. The engineering on some parts of the road is stunning.
But to get a different view of the topography, visitors have a choice of riding cable cars up the mountain top too. At an altitude of 4,200 feet, Tianmen Mountain Cable Car runs 4.75 miles. It takes visitors right above the serpentine road below.
Tianmen Cave is considered as a major attraction. Formed naturally in the year of 263 AD, this giant and formidable-looking hole in the middle of the mountain has fascinated poets, emperors, and other dignitaries throughout history. With misty clouds traveling through it freely, the cave possesses a mysterious aura too.
To see the cave up close one must do it on one’s own. As seen in the picture, there is a long flight of stairs to be overcome before one arrives at the bottom of the cave.
As for ascension to the top, visitors may consider riding the 1,040 feet high Bailong Elevator, one of the highest outdoor elevators in the world.
The Tianmen park has another walkway, called Tianmen Mountain Ghost Valley Wooden Walkway. Of roughly half a mile in length, it is much longer than the glass walkway.
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