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Home China Travel Guide 30 Interesting Facts about the Great Wall of China

30 Interesting Facts about the Great Wall of China

Stretching across China’s northern border for thousands of miles, the Great Wall of China stands as an iconic and remarkable architectural marvel, boasting a profound historical legacy and cultural importance. In this article, we will explore 30 interesting facts about the Great Wall, shedding light on its construction, historical importance, and unique features. Let’s dive in!

Beijing Mutianyu Great Wall
Beijing Mutianyu Great Wall

1. The Construction of the Great Wall

The Great Wall’s construction commenced more than two millennia ago, during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). It was initially built as a defensive structure to protect China from invasions.

Read more: Why was the Great Wall of China Built

2. Length and Dimensions of the Great Wall

China Great Wall

The total length of the Great Wall is estimated to be around 13,171 miles (21,196 kilometers). It stretches across various terrains, including mountains, deserts, and grasslands. The height of the wall varies between 15 to 30 feet (4.5 to 9 meters), and its width ranges from 15 to 25 feet (4.5 to 7.5 meters).

3. Historical Significance of the Great Wall

The Great Wall played a crucial role in safeguarding China’s borders and preserving its cultural identity. It served as a physical barrier against invasions from nomadic tribes and foreign powers.

4. Protection and Defense

The wall was not only built to keep invaders out but also to monitor and control trade along the Silk Road. It housed garrisons, watchtowers, and military stations to ensure the security of the empire.

5. The Myth of the Great Wall Being Visible from Space

Contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall cannot be seen from space with the naked eye. It is a common misconception that originated in the early 20th century but has been debunked by astronauts and scientific evidence.

6. Great Wall’s UNESCO World Heritage Status

In 1987, the Great Wall was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is recognized for its outstanding universal value and contribution to humanity’s cultural heritage.

7. Great Wall Sections and Famous Passes

Jinshanling Great Wall Hike Beijing
Jinshanling Great Wall

 

The Great Wall is composed of various sections, each with its own unique characteristics. Some well-known sections include Badaling, Mutianyu, Jinshanling, and Simatai. Famous passes like Jiayuguan and Shanhaiguan were vital strategic points along the wall.

Read more: Top 10 Great Wall Sections around Beijing

Beijing Badaling Great Wall
Badaling Great Wall

8. Symbolism and Cultural Importance

The Great Wall holds immense symbolism in Chinese culture, representing strength, resilience, and national pride. It has inspired countless poems, artworks, and literary works throughout history.

9. Materials Used in Building the Great Wall

The construction of the Great Wall involved a wide range of materials, including stone, brick, wood, and even compacted earth. In some sections, workers used a mixture of sticky rice flour and slaked lime as mortar.

10. Great Wall Legends and Folklore

Numerous legends and stories surround the Great Wall, adding to its mystique. Tales of mythical creatures, heroic warriors, and tragic romances have been passed down through generations.

11. Great Wall’s Impact on Tourism

The Great Wall attracts millions of tourists from around the world each year. Visitors can explore various sections, hike along its winding paths, and experience breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.

12. Great Wall and Chinese Dynasties

The construction, maintenance, and expansion of the Great Wall were carried out by several Chinese dynasties, including the Qin, Han, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Each dynasty left its mark on the wall, contributing to its overall grandeur.

13. The Great Wall Today

While some sections of the Great Wall have suffered from natural erosion and human activities, many parts have been restored and preserved. Efforts are ongoing to protect this cultural treasure for future generations.

14. Great Wall Restoration and Preservation Efforts

The preservation of the Great Wall is a significant undertaking. Restoration projects focus on using traditional construction techniques and materials to maintain the wall’s authenticity.

15. More intriguing facts about the Great Wall:

  1. The Great Wall is the longest man-made structure on Earth.
  2. It took hundreds of years and millions of workers to complete the wall.
  3. The wall was not a continuous structure but consisted of interconnected sections.
  4. The Great Wall served as a communication network using smoke signals and beacon fires.
  5. Some sections of the Great Wall are covered in graffiti left by ancient travelers.
  6. The wall is home to various plant and animal species, including rare ones like the snow leopard.
  7. The Great Wall has been featured in numerous movies and TV shows, boosting its global recognition.
  8. Visitors can enjoy a cable car ride or even toboggan down certain sections of the wall.
  9. The wall has become a popular venue for marathons and other sporting events.
  10. The Great Wall inspired the famous saying, “He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man.”
  11. The wall has witnessed many historical events, including battles and diplomatic exchanges.
  12. Some sections of the wall are illuminated at night, creating a magical atmosphere.
  13. The Great Wall has its own postal service, allowing visitors to send postcards with a unique Great Wall postmark.
  14. The wall’s construction involved the use of various architectural and engineering techniques.
  15. The Great Wall attracts not only tourists but also researchers and scholars interested in its historical and cultural significance.

Conclusion

The Great Wall of China stands as a testament to human ingenuity and determination. Its awe-inspiring scale, historical significance, and cultural impact continue to captivate people from all corners of the world. Whether you visit in person or explore its wonders through photographs and stories, the Great Wall will forever remain a marvel of human achievement.

Recommended China Tours including the Great Wall:

8 Days Beijing & Xian Family Tour by Bullet Train

9 Days Private China Tour of Shanghai, Xian and Beijing

10 Days Great China Tour of Beijing-Xian-Guilin-Shanghai

Beijing No-shopping Group Tour to Mutianyu Great Wall

2 Days Beijing Stopover Tour: Great Wall+Forbidden City

2 Days Wild Great Wall Trekking & Camping Tour

FAQs about the Great Wall of China

1. Can you walk the entire length of the Great Wall?

Walking the entire length of the Great Wall is not feasible as it spans thousands of miles and consists of different sections, some of which are inaccessible or in ruins. However, visitors can explore various well-preserved sections.

2. Is the Great Wall of China visible from space?

No, the Great Wall is not visible from space with the naked eye. This widely spread misconception has been refuted by astronauts and supported by scientific evidence.

3. How long did it take to build the Great Wall of China?

Over the course of several centuries, the Great Wall was constructed, witnessing contributions from various dynasties to expand its reach. The completion of the prominent sections visible today required an estimated timeframe of approximately 2,000 years.

4. Can you touch the Great Wall of China?

Yes, visitors can touch and walk on the Great Wall in accessible sections. However, it is important to respect the historical site and follow designated paths to prevent damage.

5. Is the Great Wall of China open to the public?

Yes, many sections of the Great Wall are open to the public. However, certain sections may have restricted access or require an entrance fee. It is advisable to check the specific section you plan to visit for details.

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