Great Wall of China - History and Facts | History Hit

Great Wall of China

Beijing, China

The Great Wall of China is a world renowned ancient defensive structure dating back to the Qin Dynasty.

Lily Johnson

16 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is an iconic structure and a UNESCO World Heritage site, originally made up of several different defensive walls constructed throughout China between of 476 and 221 BC.

The Great Wall of China history

It was during the reign of the first Emperor Qin Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC that the Great Wall of China was amalgamated into the single structure we know today.

This process took around 10 years, 180 million cubic metres of earth, and over 1 million workers to complete. Amongst the many legends surrounding The Great Wall of China is the belief that some of the structure is made of the bones of workers who died during its construction.

At its peak, the Great Wall of China stretched for approximately 5,500 miles from Shanhaiguan in east China to Lop Nur in the west. Though it was built in order to protect China’s borders, it never really fulfilled this goal, even when it was reconstructed during the Ming era after the Battle of Tumu in 1449. This project took a staggering 100 years to complete.

Nevertheless, whilst this stronger, brick renovation did provide some defensive qualities, even this didn’t stop the invasion of China by the Manchu armies in 1644. After this, the Great Wall of China was left untouched for centuries.

The Great Wall of China today

Today, The Great Wall of China is the country’s most famous tourist attraction, and visitors can find sections of the wall in various places.

The most popular, and therefore most busy, of these are in Bādálǐng and the neighbouring Juyongguan, around 70km from Beijing. This part of the wall was built during the Ming Dynasty and, whilst much of it has been has been overhauled by modern restoration, it remains the most frequently visited section of the Great Wall.

It’s best to visit this section during the week to avoid the weekend crush, however other less-visited sites include the Huánghuā and Mùtiányù sections.

This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in China.

Getting to the Great Wall of China

As mentioned the Great Wall of China encompasses a wide area of China and can be joined at a number of points. The most common point at Bādálǐng can be accessed by taking the S216 road around 1 hour from Beijing, and there is a host of parking around the main joining spot and a cable car that takes you to the Wall.

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