The Great Wall of China is an ancient series of walls and fortifications located in northern China. The first emperor of a unified China Qin Shi Huang (220-206 BC) under the Qin dynasty ordered those fortifications. The Xiongnu tribes in the north of China were his enemies. The land in some parts of China is easy to cross, so Qin Shi Huang started building the Great Wall to make it more difficult for the Xiongnu to invade China. This wall is very famous wall. Later on, many successive dynasties have built and maintained multiple stretches of border walls. The most well-known sections of the wall were built by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). The wall was made of rocks, bricks, and powdered dirt. It was built to protect the north of the empire of China. Nineteen walls have been built that was called the Great Wall of China.
The total length of the Great Wall built in different dynasties is 21,196.18 kilometers (13,170.70 miles), announced by China’s State Administration of Cultural Relics in 2012. It would take around 18 months to walk its length. It is a huge construction which starts from Hushan, Liaoning in the east and ends at Jiayuguan Pass, Gansu in the west, across Liaoning, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Gansu, and Qinghai Provinces. The length of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is 8,851.8 kilometers (5,500.3 miles), and there are about 526 kilometers (327 miles) lying in Beijing. Its average height ranges from 6 to 7 meters (20 to 23 feet) and the tallest part reaches around 14 meters (46 feet). About the elevation, Huanglouyuan Section is located at the highest altitude, about 1,439.3 meters (4,722 feet), while the lowest point is Laolongtou Section, which is just above the sea level. Due to the different landforms and military geographical locations, the width of the Great Wall varies. Generally speaking, the width may reach 4 to 5 meters (13 to 16 feet) at the top, which allows at least four horses to pass through at the same time.
The Great Wall of China is also known as the wanli changcheng or Long Wall of 10,000 Li (a li is a measure of distance, approximately 1/3 of a mile). The main wall is around 2,145 miles (3,460 km) long with an extra 1,770 miles (2,860 km) of branches and spurs. There are 7,000 watchtowers, blockhouses for soldiers and beacons to send smoke signals. Smoke signals were used to indicate an attack. The more enemies that were attacking, the more smoke signals they would make.
Other dynasties in China had worked more on the wall and made it longer. The Han, Sui, Northern, and Jin Dynasties all repaired, rebuilt or expanded the Great Wall of China. During the Ming Dynasty, major rebuilding work took place. Sections of the wall were built with bricks and stone instead of earth. The primary purpose was always to protect the Chinese Empire from the Mongolians and other invaders. The Mongols were a tribal group that would regularly conduct raids into China. Despite the wall, the Mongols eventually conquered China. The Wall also kept Chinese citizens from leaving China. The frontier walls built by different dynasties have multiple courses. Collectively, they stretch from Liaodong in the east to Lop Lake in the west, from the present-day Sino–Russian border in the north to Tahoe River in the south; along an arc that roughly delineates the edge of the Mongolian steppe. During its construction, the Great Wall of China was called “the longest cemetery on earth” because so many people died building it. Reportedly, it cost the lives of more than one million people.
The Great Wall of China was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987 and recognized as one of the most impressive architectural feats in human history. It is the longest man-made structure in the world. Today the walls continue to erode, however historians are trying to protect what sections they can.
It was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Over 10 million people visit the Great Wall of China every year. This is one of the best visiting places around the world. The two most popular sections of the Great Wall are Mutianyu and Badaling. These are, respectively, the most fully-restored section of the Great Wall and the most famous section. They are both located some 70 kilometers north of Beijing city center. It takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to drive straight from Beijing Capital International Airport to the Great Wall. Mutianyu has an amazing toboggan ride, which in itself is enough reason to have a visit. The scenic area at the Great Wall at Mutianyu opens from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm all year round.