The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest engineering achievements in the history of human civilization. It has even been lauded by many as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The construction of the Great Wall began during the Spring and Autumn Period to the Warring Period (770 – 221 BCE). After the unification of China by Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor of China), Qin Shi Huang ordered his people to build a new wall on an enormous scale.
Subsequent dynasties continued to strengthen and extend the wall. Most of what we think of as the Great Wall dates from when it was expanded from Shanhaiguan in Pohai to Jiayuguan in Gansu Province during the Ming dynasty (1386 – 1644 CE).
The Great Wall is more than 25 feet (7.8 meters high), 21 feet (6.5 meters) across at its base, and 19 feet (5.8 meters) at its top. There is a watchtower 40 feet (12 meters) high every 328 feet (100 meters).
Dating back to the Spring and Autumn Period, more walls were put up to defend the borders of the different kingdoms from the nomadic peoples in northern China. The Great Wall had become the dominant fortification for the Han people since the Qin Dynasty. In fact, the walls didn’t resist the attacks of the dangerous enemies.
The Ming Dynasty tried their best to renovate the wall, regardless of the heavy investment in time and resources, but ironically, the leader of Oirat Mongols not only led his army to crack the defense of the wall, but also took the emperor Yingzong of the Ming Dynasty alive in 1449 CE. Interestingly, the Tang Dynasty was one of dynasties which never renovated the wall and turned out to be one of the most prosperous in Chinese history.
The Great Wall is the symbol of Chinese civilization. Today, the Great Wall is the famous scenic spot in Beijing attracting tens of thousands of tourists every year. There is a well-known Chinese saying on the wall, “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man.”
The Great Wall was added to the list of World Heritage sites in 1987.
Badaling (most visited section, 50 miles north-west of Beijing) Great Wall
Admission Fee: 45RMB, or 85 (Badaling Great Wall plus cinema)
Open Time: 6:30-19:00 (high season), 7:00-18:00 (low season)
How to Get there: Take coach bus in downtown for about 1 hour. The coach bus starts at east Qianmen Lou in the morning. (Round-way fare: 90RMB)
1. If you travel alone, don’t believe the tour guide on coach bus.
2. A bottle of water around Great Wall is very expensive, buy water beforehand in downtown.
Mutianyu (another popular section, 43 miles north-east of Beijing) Great Wall
Admission Fee: 20RMB to 45RMB
Open Time: 8:00-16:00
How to get there: Take Bus No.936 (7:00 or 8:00) at Dongzhi Gate
1. It is steep at Mutianyu Great Wall so be very careful
2. If you plan to stay overnight, please take the thick coat and some food.
Jiankou (picturesque section of wall, 45 miles north of Beijing) Great Wall
Admission Fee: 20RMB Open Time: 7:00-17:00
How to get there: Take Bus No.916 to Huairou and then rent mini-bus to Jiankou Great Wall.