Great Wall of China Facts: 10 Things You Need to Know

The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest wonders of the world. It is a series of fortifications built along the northern borders of China to protect against various nomadic groups from the Eurasian Steppe. The wall stretches for thousands of miles and has been a symbol of China’s strength and unity for centuries.

Despite its name, the Great Wall is not a continuous wall but rather a series of walls, towers, and fortifications built by different Chinese dynasties over the course of several centuries. The earliest sections were built during the 7th century BC, while the most well-known sections were built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

History

Construction

The Great Wall of China is a series of walls and fortifications that were built in ancient China. The construction of the Great Wall began in the 7th century BC and continued until the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The wall was built by soldiers, peasants, and prisoners who were forced to work on the project. The wall was constructed using a variety of materials, including brick, tamped earth, stone, and wood.

The construction of the wall was a massive undertaking, and it is estimated that over 1 million people died during its construction. The wall stretches over 13,000 miles and is the longest wall in the world.

Purpose

The Great Wall of China was built for several reasons. One of the main reasons was to protect China from invading armies. The wall was built along the northern borders of China, which were vulnerable to attacks from the nomadic tribes that lived in the region.

Another reason for the construction of the wall was to control trade along the Silk Road. The Silk Road was an important trade route that connected China with the rest of the world. The wall was built to control access to the Silk Road and to ensure that only authorized traders were allowed to pass through.

Despite its impressive size and historical significance, the Great Wall of China was not always successful in keeping invaders out. The wall was breached several times throughout history, and it was eventually abandoned as a defensive structure in the 17th century.

Facts

Length and Width

The Great Wall of China is the largest man-made project in the world, stretching over 20,000 km from the east seaside to the northwest desert. The wall varies in width from 4 to 5 meters at the base to 2.5 to 3 meters at the top, and ranges in height from 5 to 8 meters.

Materials Used

The Great Wall was built using a variety of materials, including brick, tamped earth, stone, and wood. The bricks used in the construction of the wall were made from glutinous rice mortar, which is much stronger than ordinary lime mortar, and also water-resistant. The tamped earth sections of the wall were constructed by compacting layers of earth, gravel, and other materials into a solid mass.

Visibility from Space

Contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space by the naked eye. While the wall is an impressive feat of engineering, it is not visible from low Earth orbit without aid. However, it is visible from the moon, as confirmed by astronaut William Pogue during the Skylab 4 mission in 1973.

Myths and Legends

The Legend of Meng Jiangnu’s Tears

One of the most famous legends surrounding the Great Wall of China is the story of Meng Jiangnu’s Tears. According to the legend, during the Qin Dynasty, the federal officials arrested a peasant named Fan Qiliang, the husband of Meng Jiangsu, and forcefully sent him to build the wall. After many days of unsuccessfully trying to locate her husband, Meng Jiangnu finally reached the Great Wall.

When Meng Jiangnu was finally able to see her husband, she found out that he had died of exhaustion while building the wall. In her grief, she wept bitterly and her tears caused a section of the wall to collapse, revealing her husband’s bones. The legend says that this story inspired the people to revolt against the Qin Dynasty and ultimately led to its downfall.

The Myth of the Dead Workers

Another popular myth about the Great Wall of China is that many workers died while building it and their bodies were buried within the wall. While it is true that many workers died during the construction of the wall, there is no evidence to suggest that their bodies were buried in the wall itself.

Most of the workers who died during the construction of the wall were buried in nearby cemeteries. In fact, during the Ming Dynasty, the government even set up a special bureau to take care of the families of workers who died while building the wall.

Tourism

Visiting the Great Wall

Visiting the Great Wall of China is a must-do for any tourist visiting China. The Great Wall is one of the most impressive architectural feats in the world and is a testament to the ingenuity and skill of the ancient Chinese people. The Great Wall attracts millions of visitors every year from all over the world, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in China.

Popular Sections of the Wall

There are many sections of the Great Wall that visitors can explore, each with its own unique features and history. Some of the most popular sections of the wall include Badaling, Mutianyu, and Jinshanling. Badaling is the most visited section of the wall and is known for its well-preserved ramparts and watchtowers. Mutianyu is less crowded and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Jinshanling is a more remote section of the wall and is known for its rugged terrain and challenging hiking trails.

Tips for Visiting

Visiting the Great Wall can be a challenging experience, especially during peak tourist season. Here are some tips to help make your visit more enjoyable:

  • Visit early in the day or later in the afternoon to avoid crowds
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing suitable for hiking
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks
  • Be prepared for steep inclines and uneven terrain
  • Take your time and enjoy the views

Overall, visiting the Great Wall of China is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed. With a little bit of planning and preparation, visitors can explore this incredible wonder of the world and learn about the fascinating history of China.