The Great Wall

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China >> Beijing >> Attractions >> The Great Wall

The Great Wall

History

The Great Wall of China is China’s most well known attraction, and the only manmade structure visible from the moon, the Great Wall of China stretches 6400 km westward from the seaside town of Shanhaiguan to Gansu Province. Built to keep out invaders from entering the Chinese Empire, it was begun in the 5th century BC and was still being built till the 1500s. The construction of the Great Wall continued through all dynasties. It’s seven metres high and seven metres thick, and although a monument in itself today, never really succeeded in keeping out invading armies, like that of Genghis Khan.

It was in 1987, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) placed the Great Wall on its list of its world’s great national and historic sites.

The Great Wall of China was built mainly to protect the Chinese Empire from the Mongolians and other invaders. It was first built in the Seventh Century BC when China was still divided into many small states. The construction of the Great Wall never ceased during the Qin, Han and Ming Dynasties. In fact, the construction started as independent walls for different states and did not become the “Great” wall until the Qin Dynasty. It was the Emperor Qin Shihuang who decided to get the walls joined together to prevent invasions from the Huns in the north after the unification of China. Since then, it has served as a monument of the Chinese nation throughout history.

There are four popular sections of the Great Wall that must be visited on your trip to China. These are the Badaling section, Mutianyu section, Simatai section and Shixiaguan section, all of which serve different purposes for scholars, tourists and researchers on a great wall tour. Badaling is the most visited section of the Great Wall built during the Ming Dynasty. This was the first section of the wall that was open to tourists in 1957. It is where Nixon visited and was also the finish site of a cycling course in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Best time to visit

What with the extreme temperatures over most of China, it doesn’t really make sense to visit the country during the summer or the winter- in most parts of the country it’ll be sweltering, or miserably cold. It’s better to go in spring (March and April) or autumn (September and October), when, although nights can be quite chilly, the days are usually pleasant. Go armed with umbrellas or raincoats, though: rain is a frequent occurrence at this time.

Trivia

A million people died in the process of building the Great Wall of China and it was for the same reason that it was sometimes referred to as “the longest cemetery on Earth”. The Great Wall- a discontinuous network of wall segments- was built by various dynasties to protect China’s northern boundary.

Timing

The wall is open from 6:30 am to 7:00 pm during summers and from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm in winters.


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