If including inter-state sections, those not protecting the northern border of China, the oldest existing section of the Great Wall of China was the Qi State "Great Wall".
It stretches for over 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the Yellow River at Jinan eastwards to the East China Sea, almost dividing Shandong Province in half.
The Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BC) was a transitional period of the Zhou Dynasty (770–221 BC), when the power of the Zhou Dynasty declined, and state warlords began to fight one another for domination.
The Five Overlords of the Spring and Autumn Period included Duke Huan of Qi (716–643 BC), who began construction of the Qi State Wall.
The Warring States Period (475–221 BC) refers to the latter period of the Zhou Dynasty, leading up to the unification of China in the Qin Dynasty, when seven warlords launched wars against one another ceaselessly, until defeated by the state of Qin.
The "Great Wall" of the Qi State was initially built around 650 BC, and added to during the Warring States Period.
The vassals from different states fought one another for power and land during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. Until the Qi State Wall was built, natural barriers, i.e. rivers and mountain ranges, formed the only defensible boundaries between territories as barriers against enemies, while some defended against opponents by using the natural mountains.
The State of Qi built its Great-Wall-esque military barrier along its southern border to prevent attacks from the State of Lu and the State of Chu.
The "Great Wall" of the Qi State made use of the local topography and materials.
The wall was built 20–30 meters (66–98 feet) wide and 7–8 meters (23–26 feet) high on the plains and hills, using local yellow loess, clay, and sandy soil. Saltwater was applied to the soil to aid binding, and salt leaching is still visible.
Stones were piled 5–7 meters (16–23 feet) high along more vulnerable mountain ridges with parapets walls both sides. These walls were filled with local soil and rocks, including granite and limestone.
Stone walls 1–2 meters (3–7 feet) high were built on open and easily defensible mountain ridges, to form a single parapet wall.
The Qi State Wall and the Chu State Wall are very similar in location and function, and questions remain as to who built and owned what.
The Qi State "Great Wall" winds its way among 1,518 undulating peaks, from Yellow River to Pacific Ocean, running west to east across 19 counties of Shandong Province:
In Jinan Prefecture, the Changqing (长清) section of the Great Wall is 98 kilometers (61 miles) long and runs across 294 mountain peaks.
The Laiwu Section of the Qi "Great Wall"In central Shandong Province, the 64-kilometer (40-mile) -long Laiwu Prefecture (莱芜市) section of the Qi State Wall started from Dongshan ('East Mountain'), north of Bamayu Village, Dawangzhuang District (大王庄镇), and proceeded east to Boshan (博山 'Ample Mountain'), running across 200 mountain peaks and 35 villages. It had many pass forts and watchtowers.
Yongquan Qi Great Wall Ecological Scenic Area (涌泉风景区) is near Yongquan Village (涌泉村), Taihe Rural District (太河镇 ), Zichuan Urban District (淄川区), Zibo Prefecture.
'Qi Great Wall Remains Protection Park' is at the top of 'Splitting Mountain', and it boasts the most complete Qi State "Great Wall" remaining. The major attractions are the ancient remains of the Qi State Wall, 'Splitting Mountain Pass Fort', the beacon towers, 'One Line Sky', and 'Heart-Linking Bridge'.
It winds its way south to Yishui County (沂水县) from Taibo Peak in the Yishan Mountains. 85% of which is dotted with historical remains, including ancient castles, beacon towers, and 'General Appointing Platform'.
In coastal Rizhao Prefecture, the Wulian section of the Qi State Wall was 50 kilometers (31 miles) long. It started at Hexi Reservoir, Wanghu District in the west, and ended at Wulian County (五莲县), running across Xumeng, Songbai, and Hubu villages, two rivers, and hundreds of mountain peaks along its way.
Only two sections of "Great Wall" relics remain in Rizhao after 2,300 years: Xiling in Xumeng Town and Changchengling in Songbai Village.
The sand and soil structured of the Xiling (西岭 'West Ridge') section of the Qi State Wall stretches from north to south, measuring 15 kilometers (9 miles) long, 2.5 meters (8 feet) high, 6.5 meters (21 feet) wide at the bottom, and 3.5 meters (11 feet) wide at the top.
The Changchengling (长城岭 'Great Wall Ridge') section of the Qi State Wall is 1.5 meters (5 feet) high and 6 meters (20 feet) wide at the bottom. Beacon towers of 5 meters (16 feet) high and 20 meters (66 feet) in diameter are situated on the western and eastern points.
Most tours won't take you to the "Great Wall" relics, but our Shandong tours are customizable! Contact us, and let us know what you want to do.