A world wide known landmark of China, the Great Wall of China is one of the greatest military walls and architectural achievements ever constructed in history. As China’s most popular tourist attraction, the wall is often the subject of many photographs by both amateurs and professionals. The following is a summary of the wall’s history and features for those interested in learning more about the Great Wall of China.
The history of the wall dates as far back as 7 BC when China was divided into seven smaller territories. The leaders of these territories were in constant war with each other, vying for total control. Primitive walls were therefore constructed to protect the tribes from one another.
Over time, the kingdom of Qin Shi Huang gained power, prevailing over all the other tribes, and Qin became the First Emperor of a united China, reigning from 246 BC to 210 BC. To promote a centralized power and unity throughout the new empire, Qin decreed all the current walls to be connected and further extensions constructed to fortify against the constant threat from the Xiongnu nomads in the northern region. The building of the wall began between 220 and 206 BC by hundreds of soldiers, peasants and criminals with many of them even dying under the hardship of the heavy task.
Serving its purpose as a military defense throughout the centuries, the wall suffered damage from attacks and erosion over time. It wasn’t until the Ming Dynasty from 1388 to 1644 that a project was begun to improve the wall into a more elaborate strategic system. Using stronger and more advanced bricks, crucial additions were made to the wall such as garrison towers, watchtowers and cannons while the length of the wall was also extended to a staggering four thousand miles. The wall upgrade from the Ming Dynasty is what remains today, serving as a tourist attraction rather than a military fortification.
Facts and Features
The wall stretches a lengthy 5,500 miles over much of China, spanning the provinces of Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Liaoning. Winding up and down along mountains and plateaus, the wall resembles a dragon.
Because it was built in different periods and methods, the wall varies in size at different locations but much of it rises almost 25 feet tall and up to 30 feet wide.
The overall construction of the wall took nearly 2,000 years but there were many long gaps in between periods with no building.
From beginning to finish, the wall has been built with various materials such as twigs, stones, bricks, earth.
The Great Wall is the world’s longest wall.
The Great Wall is one of China’s most visited sites, ranking as one of the seven wonders of the world.
In 1987, the wall was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some of the most notable and visited sections of the wall include Mutianyu, Simatai, Jinshanling, Jiayu Pass, Shanhai Pass and Badaling. The Badaling section is the most popular where visitors can learn about the wall and its history at the Great Wall Museum.
There are many tours available for those wishing to visit the Great Wall of China from one day to several days as well as hiking tours.
Health and Safety
Overall, visiting the Great Wall is a safe experience, but there are some suggested precautions. For example, temperatures can vary between different locations of the wall and between day and night, so visitors should expect to wear short sleeves in the day during summer and a light jacket or sweater in the evening.
Since a visit to the wall requires hiking and time, visitors are advised to bring water and snacks to avoid dehydration. Additionally, sunscreen and umbrellas are good to use to prevent sunburn.