Exploring the Great Wall of China: Ten Amazing Facts
Spanning thousands of kilometers across northern China, the Great Wall stands as a testament to the remarkable achievements of ancient civilizations. Great Wall of China stands not only as a physical monument but also as a bridge that connects us to the past and inspires us to preserve our cultural heritage for future generations.
In this article, we explore 10 fascinating facts about the Great Wall of China, shedding light on its immense length, strategic passes, historical significance, construction materials, and cultural legacy. Join us on a journey through time as we unravel the awe-inspiring secrets of this architectural marvel.
1. The Enormous Length
So, how big is the Great Wall of China? The Great Wall of China, the largest man-made project in the world, stretches over approximately 21,196 kilometers (13,171 miles) in length. Like a mythical dragon, it winds its way across mountains, plateaus, and valleys, spanning from the eastern seaside to the western desert in northern China. The sheer scale of the wall is a testament to human ambition and perseverance.
You may wonder, how long does it take to walk the Great Wall of China? On an average, completing the full journey may take around 18 to 24 months. However, many visitors opt to explore specific sections, which can range from a few hours to several days, depending on their difficulty and length. The duration to walk the entire length of the Great Wall of China varies based on factors like fitness level, weather conditions, and chosen sections.
2. Strategic Passes
As the Great Wall traverses 15 northern Chinese provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions, it passes through 15 strategically important locations. These passes, strategically built along the route, played a crucial role in defense and served as gateways between regions. Each pass has its unique historical significance, adding layers of stories to the Great Wall’s tapestry.
3. Centuries in the Making
Another question that comes to our mind is – How old is the Great Wall of China? And, how long it took to construct this great wall?
The wall was not built all at once but is a network of wall segments constructed by various dynasties to protect China’s northern boundaries. Well, the construction of the Great Wall spanned over two millennia. It was Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, who initiated the unification of ancient fortifications, walls, and earthworks in approximately 220 B.C. However, subsequent dynasties further enhanced and extended the wall, solidifying its grandeur and defensive capabilities.
4. A Complex Defense System
The Great Wall is not simply a singular wall; it encompasses a comprehensive defense system. Alongside the towering walls, beacon towers, barriers, barracks, garrison stations, and fortresses were strategically placed. These components collectively formed an integrated defense system, demonstrating the meticulous planning and military prowess of ancient Chinese civilizations.
5. Diverse Building Materials
The Great Wall stands as a testament to human adaptability and resourcefulness, as various materials were used in its construction. While bricks and cut stone blocks, held together by lime mortar, form the foundation of many sections we see today, local materials were utilized when necessary. Tamped earth, uncut stones, and wood were ingeniously incorporated into the wall, blending with the natural surroundings.
6. Eastern Starting Point: Shanhai Pass
The eastern beginning of the Great Wall is marked by the magnificent Shanhai Pass. Located outside Qinhuangdao City on Bohai Bay, approximately 305 kilometers from Beijing, it holds significant historical and strategic importance. Often referred to as the “First Pass under Heaven,” Shanhai Pass is a testament to the architectural ingenuity and defensive prowess of the Ming Dynasty.
7. Western End: Jiayu Pass
Jiayu Pass, situated at the western end of the Great Wall in the Ming Dynasty, stands as a testament to the enduring fortification of ancient China. Renowned for its remarkable preservation, it offers a glimpse into the architectural techniques and defensive strategies employed during that era. Jiayu Pass holds a special place among the numerous passes along the Great Wall.
8. The Legend of Lady Mengjiang
Embedded within the history of the Great Wall is the ancient tale of Lady Mengjiang, one of China’s four greatest love legends. Forced to work on the wall, she received the devastating news of her husband’s death while working there. Overwhelmed by grief, her tears caused the collapse of a section of the wall, revealing her husband’s bones, which she buried.
Another intriguing tale tells of a helpful dragon that traced out the course of the Great Wall, guiding the builders along its path. These stories add a touch of enchantment to the already mesmerizing allure of the wall.
9. Ancient Markings on Bricks
One fascinating aspect of the Great Wall is the presence of inscriptions and markings on its bricks. Some historians speculate that these markings were devised by General Qi Jiguang to assess the brick quality and clarify responsibilities among the soldiers involved in construction. While the exact origins of these inscriptions remain a topic of debate, they serve as intriguing relics, hinting at the labor and craftsmanship that went into building the wall.
10. Cultural Icon and Engineering Marvel
The Great Wall of China holds a special place in the hearts of the Chinese people. It symbolizes their rich cultural heritage, resilience, and the remarkable exchange between agricultural and nomadic civilizations. Beyond its historical significance, the wall represents a magnificent feat of engineering, showcasing the brilliance and innovation of ancient civilizations. It stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of human endeavor.
Awe Inspiring Wonder of China
Although the Great Wall of China does not belong to the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it is commonly acknowledged as one of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World. And, after knowing the 10 fascinating facts about The Great Wall of China, you will know why the Great Wall of China is considered one of the top Seven Wonders of China.
As we conclude our exploration of the Great Wall of China, we are left in awe of its monumental scale, historical significance, and enduring legacy. This architectural wonder continues to inspire admiration, drawing visitors from around the world to witness its grandeur firsthand.
The Great Wall of China stands as a testament to human ingenuity, the determination of ancient civilizations, and the rich cultural heritage of China. Let us embrace its magnificence and honor the collective efforts that have preserved this awe-inspiring marvel for generations to come. Let the magnificence of this ancient wonder leave an indelible mark on your heart and mind.