From the Yellow Sea in the east to the endless Gobi Desert in the west,
here stretches the world’s longest wall.
The Great Wall of China
The symbol of China.
And perhaps the country’s main attraction.
The Great Wall of China is a series of walls and fortifications, jointly known as “The Great Wall of China”.
The long network of fortifications snakes its way through the landscape of northern China. If you go for a walk on the Wall on a clear day, you can view it and the watchtowers crossing mountain ridges as far as the eye can see.
The Great Wall of China became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. In 2007, the Wall received a further honour when it was named one of the Seven New Wonders together with Machu Picchu in Peru and the Taj Mahal in India, among others.
The Wall is considered to be one of the world’s most impressive architectural accomplishments, and although it cannot actually be seen from the moon, as some urban myths suggest, it should without doubt be at the top of your list of must-sees on a trip to China.
The Great Wall is 21,196 km long, making it the world’s longest wall.
The long wall is made up of several individual walls built under different dynasties, which run parallel to or overlap each other.
The section of the Wall we now consider to be the Great Wall of China was built during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). It was originally measured at more than 6,000 km, but the figure has since been adjusted upwards to 8,851.8 km.
In addition to the actual wall, the 8,851.8 km also consist of ditches/trenches as well as natural barriers, such as rivers and steep hills. There are also watchtowers, lighthouses, fortresses and other ruins. Built of stone and clay, the Wall measures up to 12 m in height and 10 m wide. This, however, varies greatly.
The Wall that dates back to the Ming dynasty extends from the city of Jiayuguan in Gansu Province, located in central China in the middle of the Gobi Desert, to Hushan in Liaoning Province, close to the border with North Korea.
Unfortunately, large sections of the original Wall built before the Ming dynasty no longer exist.
The Great Wall was built as a defence system against enemies from the north,
but is now an iconic symbol of China’s history and past achievements.
The Great Wall of China is an excellent example of the abilities of ancient China’s early civilisations, who were brilliant at creating military architecture and technology.
The Great Wall was built over a period of almost 2,000 years, between 220 BC and 1633 AD
It was built in stages when several different dynasties were in power.
Some sources claim that the first lengths of wall were begun as early as 770 BC. However, there is a fairly broad consensus that the official work on the Wall started in 220 BC, during the Qin dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC). Emperor Qin Shi Huang was in power during this time, and he wanted to join the different parts of the Wall into one long wall.
The last parts of the Wall were built during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).
When Emperor Qin Shi Huang joined the former fortifications, his aim was to create a unified defence system against invasions from the nomads in the north.
The main task of the Wall at this time was therefore to defend against potential enemies.
During the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), the Wall was extended to the west to protect trade along the Silk Road.
The Wall we can visit today was built from 1471 onwards, when the Ming dynasty ruled. The original purpose of the Wall was to defend the country’s borders, and the purpose of the new Wall was the same.
However, the Great Wall served more as a psychological barrier and a symbol of Chinese power than protection against the invasions it was built to protect China from.
At the end of the Ming dynasty, it was not necessary to rebuild the Wall. Due to natural erosion and human activities, the Wall fell into disrepair, until restorations began in the 1900s.
The Great Wall of China is visited by millions of people every year. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s a unique experience to see the Wall snaking its way across the mountain ridges in the stunning scenery.
It is possible to visit several different restored sections of the Wall. Close to Beijing, you will find some of the best and most visited sections of the Wall.
Mutianyu is one of the best-preserved, yet less busy sections of the Wall, where you can see it wind its way up the mountain ridge. Walk all the way up or take the cable car and be rewarded with a fantastic view at the top.
Check out our tours to China and contact our travel consultants if you have any questions or need guidance about one of our tours.
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