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Great Wall of China Facts

Jinshangling Section of the wallJinshangling Section of the wall

Name: the Great Wall of China / the Great Wall
Meaning: 'Long Wall'
Other name: the 10,000-Li-Long Wall
Meaning: 'the 5,000-Kilometer-Long Wall'


  • The world's longest wall and biggest ancient architecture
  • A stunning array of scenery: from the beaches of Qinhuangdao, to rugged mountains around Beijing, to a desert corridor between tall mountain ranges at Jiayu Pass.

Most Popular Sections:

Badaling, Mutianyu, Simatai, Jinshanling, Jiayu Pass, Shanhai Pass (Old Dragon Head)

Most popular souvenirs and local products: Great Wall paintings, "I've climbed the Great Wall" T-shirts, Great Wall fragments (some genuine, some not)

Top 10 Interesting Facts of the Great Wall of China

Watch tower on the wall
  • Contrary to common belief, the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space without aid.
  • As early as the Qin Dynasty (221-207BC) when building the Great Wall, glutinous rice flour was used in making the binding material to bind the bricks.
  • The labor force to build the Great Wall includes soldiers, forcibly recruited peasants, convicts and war prisoners.
  • Although the official number of the length of the Great Wall is 8851.8 kilometers (5500 miles), the length of all the Great Wall built over thousands of years is estimated at 21,196.18 kilometers (13,170 miles). The circumference of the Equator is 40,075 kilometers (24,901 miles).
  • There is a popular legend about Meng Jiangnv whose husband died building the wall. Her weeping was so bitter that a section of the wall collapsed, revealing her husband's bones so she could bury them.
  • Gubeikou section of the Great Wall, with bullet holes still can be seen in the wall, was the venue where the last battle fought at the Great Wall.
  • During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), many bricks of the Great Wall were taken away to use in building homes, farms or reservoirs.
  • The northwestern sections (e.g. in Gansu and Ningxia provinces) of the Great Wall are likely to disappear in 20 years, due to demolishment by nature and human.
  • Jiankou section of the Great Wall, known for being steep and winding, enjoys the most frequent appearance on picture books and post cards of the Great Wall.
  • The most famous section of the Great Wall-Badaling, had been visited by over 300 heads of state and VIPs from around the world, the first of which was Soviet statesman Klim Voroshilov in 1957.


  • 7th century BC: Construction of the Great Wall begun by feudal warlords.
  • Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC): Lengths of the Great Wall were joined together (alongside the union of China).
  • 206 BC–1368 AD: Extension and rebuilding to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire from invaders.
  • Ming Dynasty (1368–1644): The Great wall reached its greatest extent.
  • Qing Dynasty (1644-1911): The last Chinese dynasty was ushered in by a beach of the Great Wall at Shanhai Pass by Manchu invaders in league with a disenchanted general. Great Wall maintenance ceased for more than 3 centuries.
  • Late 20th century: Various Great Wall sections became tourist attractions. Read more »

Non-history: see Great Wall Legends
Most famous legend: Meng Jiangnü and her wall-destroying weeping.


  • Significance: the longest fortification ever built
  • Purpose: to defend the Chinese Empire from Mongolian and Manchu enemies to the north.
  • Tourism: China's biggest and most popular tourist attraction.
  • Provinces and municipalities crossed: Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Gansu
  • Location: From Shanhai Pass (39.96N, 119.80E) to Jiayu Pass (39.85N, 97.54E). Straight line distance: 1900 km (1200 mi). Most popular sections are around Beijing.
  • Closest section to Beijing: Juyong Pass (55 km or 34 mi)
  • Most visited section: Badaling (63,000,000 visitors in 2001)
  • Terrain: Mostly mountainous, taking advantage of natural obstacles. From the Bohai coast at Qinhuangdao, around the north of the Great Plain of China, across the Loess Plateau, and along the desert corridor of Gansu between the Plateau of Tibet and the loess hills of Inner Mongolia.
  • Altitude: From sea level to over 500 meters (1,600 feet)
  • Best time to visit the Great Wall: Beijing sections: spring or autumn. Jiayu Pass: May to October. Shanhai Pass: summer and early autumn.
  • Great Wall tours: If your goal is to reach the Great Wall, we at China Highlights are here to help you get over all the difficulties.

Top Great Wall FAQs:

How long is the Great Wall?

There is no easy answer, because over the dynasties the Great Wall has been eroded, built, rebuilt and extended many times. It was over 6,000 km (3,700 miles) long. Read more »

Who built the Great Wall when and why?

The first parts of the Great Wall were built in the 7th Century BC when China was still divided into many small states. Read more »

What protection is there for the Great Wall?

In order to save this cultural heritage, many wise men suggest we should make the Great Wall better understood by the world, and make laws to protect it. Then the world can share this outstanding part of Chinese history and culture in this century and centuries to come. Read more »

Which World VIPs have visited the Great Wall?

Over the years, dozens of world celebrities have left their foot steps on the Great Wall. Read more

What is the best time to visit the Great Wall?

The Great Wall offers a timeless charm to tourists, but scenery varies with the seasons. Visit in a different season and you will get a quite different experience. Read more »