The Great Wall of China is one of the largest wonders of the world. Furthermore it is the longest, oldest, most time consuming construction project ever attempted, in history. In 1987, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) placed the Great Wall on its list of the world’s great national and historical sites. With a history of more than 2000 years and length (stretching) approximately 8,851.8 kilometers (5,500 miles) from east to west of China. It is said that the Great Wall can be seen from Earth orbit. It is still one of the most appealing attractions all around the world owing to its architectural grandeur and historical significance.
The Great Wall was built for defensive purposes, especially to stop attack from the north of China. Emperors feared that China would be conquered from the north. The Wall stretches across deserts and up and down mountain ranges.
The Great Wall was part of a Chinese strategy of preventing mass invasion. In the early years the walls were made of rammed earth but as hundreds of years past more sophisticated methods of building were developed with rocks, bricks and mortar being used. It is estimated that over one million people helped in the construction of the Great Wall. During its construction, the Great Wall was called “the longest cemetery on earth” because so many people died building it. Reportedly, it costs the lives of more than one million people. Due to his long history and construction, The Great Wall is divided in different sections. The most visited section of the Great Wall is in Badaling, close to Beijing. It was the first section of the wall to open to tourists in 1957.
The Great Wall has often been compared to a dragon. In China, the dragon is a protective divinity and is synonymous with springtime and vital energy. The Chinese believed the earth was filled with dragons which gave shape to the mountains and formed the sinew of the land.
Some facts of The Great Wall
- President Nixon’s historic visit to China dramatically increased tourism to the Wall.
- After Mao Zedong’s death, the Chinese government recognized the Wall as a unifying symbol of the nation.
- During its construction, the Great Wall was called “the longest cemetery on earth” because so many people died building it.
- The Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure in the world.
- During the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-78), the Great Wall was seen as sign of despotism, and people were encouraged to take bricks from it to use in their farms or homes.
- President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 increased tourism to the Great Wall.
- The Great Wall of China is 25 feet high in some places and ranges from 15-30 feet wide.
- In 2008, there were over 41.8 million foreign visitors to the Great Wall of China.
Traveler tips for visiting The Great Wall
- Tip 1: In Beijing, all the sections of the Wall are open to tourists all year round. The ideal months for the Great Wall hike fall on spring, early summer, autumn- later March, April, May, June, September, October and early November.
- Tip 2: Avoid weekends or public holidays for the Wall. It is better to hike the Wall during the weekdays instead of weekends. Strongly advise you not to visit the Wall during China public holidays. Because on these special days you will waste much of your valuable time on the way from your hotel to the Wall. On the Wall, you have to take group photos since there are a great number of people on the wall.
- Tip 3: Badaling- This is by far the most representative and probably most famous. It is the grandest and most splendid section of all, closest to Beijing city proper, convenient to access and easier to climb, thus the most visited.Allow two to three hours for your visit when in Badaling section.
- Tip 4: Carry an umbrella to protect you from the sun as well as potential rainfall. Anoint yourself with some sunscreen and wear sunglasses to avoid the harm from strong ultraviolet radiation.
- Tip 5: For protection of this world heritage, graffiti is not allowed on the wall. Please leave no litter on the wall, there are waste bins provided.
- Tip 6: Most of the tourists are domestic Chines, who prefer to take tour buses. So,avoid weekends if possible, particularly during the summer (advice for any major tourist attraction in China).