The Great Wall of China - The Longest Fortification In The World

Perhaps the most recognized architectural symbol of China is the Great Wall. It is regarded as the longest wall in the world at 21,196 kilometers in length. This majestic human feat covers 15 regions in Northern China, from the Great Wall at Hushan (Liaoning Province) to the Jiayu Pass (Gansu Province). The Great Wall is not only great for its strong defensive function but also for its incomparable historic value.In ancient times, the Great Wall of China was like a huge dragon warrior, which spanned across Northern China. Since the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046–771 BC), it helped ancient China's rulers to protect the safety of the frontier areas.Although it has little importance for the military today, people believe that it is a great part of the Chinese nation's soul and is a representative witness of China's history.

Why Do You Want to Visit the Great Wall?

  • Explore the most important fortification of ancient China, which had incomparable significance in protecting the frontier areas' safety.
  • Experience the so-called 10,000 li (3,100 miles) Great Wall, which is regarded as the longest wall in the world.
  • Discover the most famous representative architectural structure of China, which has a unique charm and a long history of more than 2,300 years.
The Great Wall The Great Wall at Mutianyu

Essentials Overview

  • Chinese: 长城 (chángchéng)
  • Location: North China
  • Length: 21,196 kilometers (13,170 miles)
  • History: more than 2,300 years
  • Honor: one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; a World Heritage Site in China
  • Visiting hours: about 2–3 hours
  • Best seasons: spring and autumn (April to June and September to November)
  • Who built it: different rulers in different dynasties
  • When it was built: construction began during the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046–771 BC)

Memorize the Most Significant Moments of the Great Wall

From eastern Liaoning Province to western Gansu Province, the Great Wall of China spans across 15 regions in North China. As the most famous ancient defensive project, it played an important role in ancient wars and border safety protection for more than 2,300 years.

The Construction of the Great Wall Began in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046–771 BC)

In order to expand territory and protect the safety of the borders, the construction of the military defensive project never ceased in ancient times. The Western Zhou Dynasty was the beginning of the Great Wall's history. The original appearance of the Great Wall was many dispersed walls. The Western Zhou wanted to prevent invasion by a threatening tribe named "yănyŭn" (from Northwest China) so the ruler built some high walls in the frontier areas to act as defense. This was the first period of construction for the earlier Great Wall.

The First Peak Period of Construction — the Warring States Period (475–221 BC)

The Warring States Period (475–221 BC) was the first peak period of construction in the Great Wall's history. At that time, China was divided into seven individual kingdoms and every kingdom wanted to become the strongest one. How could this situation change? The only way was to defeat other kingdoms in war. Therefore, as an important and effective military defense project, the construction of the Great Wall was very popular in times of war. Seven kingdoms were keen on building the defensive wall and the Warring States Period became the first peak period of construction.

The Dispersed Walls The Dispersed Walls Were Linked to Become the Great Wall

Emperor Qin Shi Huang (c. 259–210 BC) was not only the ruler who unified China for the first time, but was also the first person who united the northern sections of the Great Wall. China is a vast country and how to maintain the safety of such a huge country was always a question for every ruler in ancient times. Emperor Qin Shi Huang was a wise man and he decided to link all of the defensive wall sections. It really was a wonderful idea to use these wall sections to build a great military project. After he linked the dispersed walls, the Great Wall became a single defensive system and the length of it extended for more than 10,000 li. This is where the name of "Wàn Lĭ Cháng Chéng" originated.

The Main Construction Period for Existing Parts of the Great Wall — the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)

Did you know that almost all of the Great Wall that exists today was mainly constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)? Under the reign of the Ming emperor, Yongle, the territory of the country expanded gradually. With this expansion, an important question became how to maintain the ruling state. Like emperors in other dynasties, Emperor Yongle also extended the Great Wall to prevent being invaded. Because of the vast land area gained during the Ming Dynasty, 6,200 kilometers of the Great Wall was built in that time. Therefore, almost all of the Great Wall that exists today belonged to the Ming Dynasty.

Top 7 Sections of the Great Wall

The Great Wall consists of numerous sections that were built in different dynasties. However, because of the insufficient protection and natural erosion, some of the Great Wall has gradually disappeared. How can you choose which section to visit among the numerous sections of the Great Wall? Don't worry about that. There are 7 famous sections that have been carefully selected for you to read about:

1. Shanhai Pass

Shanhai Pass is famous for its sturdiness, majestic architecture, and beautiful scenery. As one of the northeast passes of the Great Wall, it played an important military defensive role during the Ming Dynasty. It is regarded as the "First Pass Under Heaven" and "one of the three wonders of the Great Wall". This famous section is located in the northeast of Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province. Sea, sunshine, and the Shanhai Pass together draw a beautiful picture.

2. The Great Wall at Jinshanling

Compared with other sections of the Great Wall in Beijing, Jinshanling is more attractive with fewer visitors, more original looks, and wonderful scenery. The Great Wall at Jinshanling is the most important highlight of the Ming Great Wall. It is 10.5 kilometers long including 67 watchtowers in different styles. There is a saying that "only Jinshanling can show off the Great Wall". It's a vivid example to explain that the Great Wall at Jinshanling is a very representative section. That is also why you should visit it.

Popular hiking at the Great Wall at Jinshanling Popular hiking at the Great Wall at Jinshanling

3. The Great Wall at Badaling

The Great Wall at Badaling is the best-known section in Beijing. You are bound to have seen various photographs of it on different posters. It is the most representative section of the Ming Dynasty's Great Wall with 19 towers. In 1987, it was listed as one of the World Heritage sites by UNESCO.

There is a saying that "the most precipitous section is not Juyong Pass but the Great Wall at Badaling". This comment alone makes it worth exploring.

4. The Great Wall at Mutianyu

Compared with the famous section – the Great Wall at Badaling – Mutianyu is quieter with fewer visitors and is the longest section of the Great Wall. Because of the special geographical location (it was the junction that linked the Juyongguan and Gubeikou sections of the Great Wall) the Great Wall at Mutianyu was a very important section in ancient times. If you want to escape the crowds, the Great Wall at Mutianyu may be a good choice for you.

5. The Great Wall at Simatai

The Great Wall at Simatai is famous for its marvelous design and the most original appearance. An expert of the Great Wall named Luozhewen said: "The Great Wall is the wonder of the world, and Simatai is the wonder of the Great Wall". Because of the precipitous topography and the original appearance, this 5.4-kilometer-long section of the Great Wall is enough to astonish you.

6. The Great Wall at Gubeikou

In the history of the Great Wall, Gubeikou is the most complete defensive system of all the sections. It consists of walls built in the Qi and Ming dynasties, and it was the fortress between Shanhai Pass and Juyong Pass. At a distance from Beijing, Gubeikou is quieter and more interesting. You can experience an authentic and different style there.

the Great Wall at Gubeikou The Great Wall at Gubeikou

7. The Great Wall at Jiankou

The Great Wall at Jiankou is one of the most photographed sections of China's Great Wall, featuring precipitous mountains and wonderful scenery. This challenging section of the Great Wall is located some 80 kilometers away from Beijing, and zigzags for over 20 kilometers from the Mutianyu to Huanghuacheng sections. It is easy to find photos of it on various posters, postcards, and photographic works. Explore it and enjoy the reward of beautiful scenery.

Travel Tips

Preparations Before Your Trip

  1. Check the local weather before your trip. Inclement weather makes it difficult for travelers to hike and catch a sight of the beautiful scenery.
  2. Try to choose a fine day in spring or autumn to enjoy your precious time and explore this majestic world wonder — the Great Wall of China.
  3. Prepare water and food before your trip. If you want to spend a long time hiking, there are no restaurants or shops on the Great Wall. It's essential to take water and food with you.
  4. Prepare your hiking equipment carefully. It's a challenging trip, so you have to check your equipment. It's best for you to take: a backpack, sports or hiking shoes, a hat, sunglasses, an alpenstock, gloves, and knee pads.
  5. Pack a map. As well as those items, you can take a map to ensure you don't get lost when your mobile phone's signal is weak on the mountain.

How to Escape from the Crowd

The Great Wall is so famous that there are always too many people who want to visit it all year round. How can you escape the crowd? Don't visit the Great Wall on China's public holidays. The main holidays in China in 2021 are:

  1. New Year's Day: Jan. 1-3, 2021
  2. The Spring Festival: Feb. 11–17, 2021
  3. Tomb-Sweeping Day: Apr. 3–5, 2021
  4. International Labor Day: May 1–5, 2021
  5. The Dragon Boat Festival: June 12–14, 2021
  6. The Mid-Autumn Festival: Sep. 19–21, 2021
  7. National Day: October 1 to 7, 2021

If you have enough time for traveling, choose a section of the Great Wall that's further away from Beijing. Beijing is a very hot travel destination all year round. The Jinshanling, Simatai, and Gubeikou sections may be better choices for you.

Try Your Best to Protect the Great Wall

Due to insufficient protection and erosion caused by the natural environment, some of the Great Wall has gradually disappeared.  As responsible travelers, we should try our best to protect this wonderful gift, which was constructed with difficulty by ancient laborers.

the Great Wall Protect The Great Wall
  1. Don't leave rubbish on the Great Wall. Take away your rubbish and keep the Great Wall clean, beautiful, and less polluted.
  2. Don't take the stones or bricks away. The Great Wall consists of numerous bricks and stones — don't take part of its body away. Just admire it and keep the Great Wall complete.
  3. Don't scribble on the Great Wall. Scribbling on the wall is not a good way to memorize your precious trip. Travel is about discovering yourself; not leaving traces of yourself everywhere.

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