The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest sights in the world — the longest wall in the world, an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture. Its winding path over rugged country and steep mountains takes in some great scenery.
The "Long Wall" has a long history — more than 2,300 years. It was built in different areas by different states/dynasties to protect different territorial borders.
It's often said that the First Emperor of Qin built the Great Wall. Actually he was not the first to build it. See below:
|Dynasty||Great Wall History — Key Events|
|Zhou Dynasty: The (Pre-) Warring States Period (770–221 BC)||State overlords built state border walls.|
|The Qin Dynasty (221–207 BC)||The First Emperor of Qin linked the Great Wall sections on China's northern border.|
|The Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD)||Han Wudi extended the Great Wall west to Yumen Pass and beyond.|
|The Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)||Hero General Qi Jiguang rebuilt the Great Wall around Beijing.|
In the Qin Dynasty, the First Emperor of Qin inked the northern walls to prevent invasion from northern nations. In the Han Dynasty, the emperors extended the Great Wall far into today's western China to protect Silk Road trade.
The majestic Great Wall was built with wisdom, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears. Families were separated, and many workers died and were interred as part of the Great Wall itself.
Read more on How the Great Wall Was Constructed to see who the workers were, their construction techniques, and how they moved the huge amount of materials.
The Great Wall was not just a wall. It was an integrated military defensive system with watchtowers for surveillance, fortresses for command posts and logistics, beacon towers for communications, etc.
In the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), the Great Wall was reconstructed to be stronger and more sophisticated, due to better construction techniques being developed.
For more structural details read The Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty.
Due to natural erosion and human damage, about 2,000 kilometers, or 30% of the Ming Great Wall has disappeared. (Far more of previous dynasties' Great Wall sections is gone.)
To prevent further loss of the Great Wall, the Chinese Government has taken measures to protect it:
As individuals, we can do the follows to protect the Great Wall:
The Great Wall is a China icon. It shows us not only China's culture of national pride, grand projects, and determined resistance, but also China's extravagant architecture and creativity.
During the construction of the Great Wall, there were many interesting legends and myths, such as Meng Jiang Nü weeping over the Great Wall, a sad but romantic love story set in the Qin Dynasty. Read more on Great Wall Culture — Legends, Stories, Poetry…
The Great Wall of China is the must-visit China attraction. Perhaps the most powerful advertising words in history come from the poetic pen of Chairman Mao: "Until you reach the Great Wall, you're no hero." Figuratively this has come to mean 'to get over difficulties before reaching a goal'. See more Great Wall Sayings.
After the Great Wall opened to the public as a tourist attraction, hundreds of millions of visitors have been to its various sections. Badaling section is the most visited section (63,000,000 visitors in 2001). In peak seasons, the visitor flow can be up to 70,000 per day!
"Greatest Human Feat in History": The Great Wall is the building project with the longest duration and greatest cost in human lives, blood, sweat and tears. It deserves its place among "the New Seven Wonders of the World" and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Over the years, many national leaders and celebrities have been to the Great Wall...
We would rank Beijing's nearby Great Wall sections as follows, according to our customers' feedback and our own personal experience:
However, we recognize your individual choice will be based on your own personal interests and requirements. See our Great Wall sections comparison for more information to base your choice on.
If you are planning a Great Wall tour, see our guide to how to plan a Great Wall tour. Or see our recommended tours for inspiration:
Not quite what you were looking for? No problem. You can have us tailor-make your own Great Wall tour by telling us your interests and requirements.