China’s legendary Great Wall has stood for centuries as one of the world’s greatest engineering feats and stands as a monument to the strength of an ancient society. The wall is actually not a wall but a network of fortifications. The wall took over two thousand years to construct.
Work on the walls is believed to have begun in the 5th century B.C as part of a project to protect China against the marauding barbarians from the north. By the time construction on the wall was completed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) the chang cheng had become the world’s largest human made object.
The entire Great Wall structure stretches 5,500 miles from the Korean border west to the Gobi desert. 3,889 miles of the structure is made up of the actual wall, while 223 miles are trenches and the remaining 1,387 miles are natural defensive barriers such as rivers and hills, which were incorporated into the system.
New sections of the walls were recently discovered while several sections have vanished and decayed over the centuries. Destruction of a section of the wall was encouraged by Mao Zedong in the 1950’s to reuse the materials throughout the nation. In total over 50 percent of the ancient structure has disappeared.
How To Get There
Tourist normally explores the wall from Beijing. Badaling, which is about 42 miles from the city of Beijing tends to be the most popular section. It boasts impressive views.
When To Go
You may visit year round, however, be cautious of the icy winters of Beijing when climbing the wall. Autumn is generally the ideal time to visit because of the mild weather, while the springtime tends to be windy.