Great Wall of China, Beijing
"He who has not climbed the great wall is not a true man" Mao Zedong.
Although I tend not to agree with chairman Mao, I must agree to that statement, now that I've climbed the wall myself ;-)
The wall began as several walls for different states. It was the emperor Qin Shihuang who succeeded to join the walls together. Ever since then the wall has been a symbol for China.
Construction was mainly done with local recourses, by soldiers, prisoners and locals, and took several generations. Some would be forced to leave home for several years to work on the wall, never knowing if they would survive long enough to see their family again.
The wall is considered one of the greatest wonders of the world and is on UNESCOs list of World Heritage since 1987. Some of its 6,700 kilometers is in pretty bad shape, but quite a lot of it has also been restored into its former glory.
It is said that the wall is the only building you can see from space. This is however a myth: The wall might be long, but it isn't thick enough for that. You can see the wall on several places. I was at Badaling, witch is a well-restored part of the wall. However you have the feeling of walking with half a million people while pushing away those pesty street sellers.
All I have to say is WOW! ...Who doesn't know why this place is special?
My advice is to try to go on a day that isn't too foggy or too cold. It will make the experience all the more amazing. On a clear day you can see the wall go on and on. It is practically sublime.
Amuzingly, we saw more than one group of people strip their clothes off to have pictures taken. Is this a tradition I didn't know about?
The Great Wall is not just a wall. Other defensive works such as forts, passes and beacon towers were built along the Wall to house auxiliary soldiers, store grain and weapons, and transmit military information. As a product of the clashes between agricultural and nomadic economies, the Great Wall provided protection to the economic development and cultural progress, safeguarded the trading routes such as the Silk Road, and secured transmission of information and transportation.
The Great Wall winds its way from east seaside to west desert of China, with a length exceeding 5000kM. To visit all of the Walls is impossible, but you can visit some famous parts. The following great walls is located near Beijing.
1. Si Ma Tai Great Wall
This part is famous for its craggedness, old people is not suitable for climbing this section. Pictures and info on how to get there can be get from the website
2. Ba Da Ling Great Wall
This part is very splendid. see picture at
3. Mu Tian Yu Great Wall
the mountain of this part have a high forest cover rate, therefore, it is beautiful, elegant. If you come in Summer, I suggest you visit this part, because of the forest, the advantage is that you can find a cool place to rest when you climb tired. see pictures at http://www.netpaste.com/vt/greatwall/mutianyu.htm
4. Jin Shan Ling Great Wall
this part is never rebuilt, it remain as it was before 400 years ago. most foreigner like this parts of Great Wall.
see picture at
A lot of information is already given by many other VT'er because visiting this beautiful city
without visiting the great wall is like visiting Venice in Italy, without taking a Vaporetto or a Gondola.Or like visiting Belgium, not visiting Ghent (haha)
People started building this wall 475 bc as a protection against intruders coming from the north.About the exact lenght of this wall there are different figures.Some are talking about 10.000km actually they think it is 6000km but many parts need to be restored.
75 km outside Beijng - at the Badaling canyon - a great part of the wall is open for locals and tourists.
A less popular place is Mutianyu - less tourists - so for some people ...
You can't come to Beijing and not visit the Great Wall of China, one of man's most famous achievements. The closest part of the Wall to Beijing is at Badaling - naturally this is also the most touristy part. Particularly in summer this part of the wall is crawling with tourists, both foreign and Chinese. In winter it's possible to have it nearly to yourself - but beware it is absolutely freezing!
My first time was the best. It was also the coldest day of my life. We had whole stretches of the wall by ourselves and spent most of the day sliding along the icy paths and trying somehow to keep warm. The views were unbelievable, the deserted mountains all covered in snow.
To read all about the history of the Wall, my visit there and to see photos of it in the middle of winter, have a look at my slowly developing Great Wall travelogue.
It was, and still is a great wall when complete it was over 4100miles long and was started 2500 years ago, some sections are now in ruins some disappeared forever and some fully restored it began as a series of independent walls but with the unification of several provinces during the Qin dynasty all the walls where joined up to fend off the Huns in about 200 BC
On the Great Wall there is a small exibition where you can see, how the old chinese soldier looked like. The metal costumes shows the official clothing for representation. I guess the figures a at least 25 % higher than the average chinese soldier have been.
Chinese tourist love to take pictures in front of the figures - as everywhere in the world :-))
The Great Wall is a tourist attraction for chinese tourists too. I have met a lot of Chinese tourists during my stay in 1992.
Drifting sands in the Mao wu su Desert in the north of the Yulin province have buried much of the wall and the Chang le bu fortress has all but disappeared also in more remote places local people have taken the bricks for construction and road building and the rich soil for ferilizer, in fact about 2000miles are now lost probably forever
The Great Wall is absolutely a must-see attraction in China. Regardless from where you see the parts of this Great Wall, this construction is certainly impressive.
The Chinese name "Chang Cheng" or long wall came into existence because of its length. Every time the Great Wall was reconstructed --in Qin, Han and Ming Dynasties -- its length exceeded 5,000 km (10,000 li) -- It's named Wan Li Chang Cheng or the long wall of 10,000 li. Actually, the long wall of 10,000 li is more than its stated length. The Great Wall reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty alone exceeds 7,300 km in length. According to records put down in Chinese literature, as many as 20 principalities and dynasties took part in reconstructing the Great Wall.
About 4th century B.C. the northern parts of the three principalities Of Yan, Zhao and Qin happened to border on the nomadic Xiong Nu and Dong Hu, with whom frequent contacts had been kept and border incursions frequently occurred by the nomads, which seriously disturbed normal life in the area. Therefore, the long walls to defend against the Hu were constructed by the three principalities in the north. These earlier walls, built sometimes in the east, sometimes in the west, sometimes in the south and sometimes in the north, were unconnected with each other. They formed the main foundation of the long wall of 10,000 li by Qin Shi Huang -- first sovereign of Qin.
Since the Qin, various dynasties, including Western Han, Eastern Han, Northern Wei, Eastern Wei, Northern Qi, Northern Zhou, Sui, Liao, Lin and Ming, rebuilt the Great Wall on extensive scale and extended it. The engineering projects undertaken in the Han and Ming dynasties were the largest. The Han Dynasty Great Wall with its system of fortifications and beacon towers exceeded 10,000 km in length from Dunhuang, Gansu Provedwestward to western Xinjiang Region.
The wall was conquered a couple of times over the ages firstly in the Yuen Dynasty (1271-1368) and again in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) but neither time was it due to the walls effectiveness, it was more to do with the governments weakness
Being a great human masterwork, the Great Wall is on UNESCO World Heritage list, see website for details: http://whc.unesco.org/sites/438.htm
See travelogue for more.
One of the parts of the Chinese Wall that is best preserved is close to Beijing (at least, that was what the guide said).
So, a trip to the Chinese Wall has been included in our visit to Beijing.
As you can see since this first picture, even if half covered by a colleague (who evidently loves to be photographed because he was everywhere, isn't it France'?) is that we took another foggy day YEAAHH!!
That's why the guide left us go ahead.
We must knew it. The wall CLIMBS the mountains straight up to the top. Try to climb a stairway to a top of a mountain!
She was sure we would not have gone far.
One of the most fatiguing afternoons in my life. The stairs were crowded of people from all the world puffing and cursing the wall's architect, trying to reach an higher position to enjoy the landscape, even if it was so foggy.
One must was: I cannot stop for first! I must surpass at least one colleague!
We all are from big towns except for one that lives in a village on top of a mountain. He left us behind like a steinbock, happy for this fleeting moment of glory. The soundtrack of "Chariots of fire" was playing in the distance.
Our teacher hired a guide to go to a part of the Great Wall that is not restored, meaning the orginal Great Wall, not the tourist tracks at Badaling etc. One early morning we hiked up to the wall. It had snowed the night before and the landscape looked untouched. It was beautifull. Allthough it was steep and icy and the guide scared us by saying that people got killed every year from falling down the vertical edge it was really amazing!!
Here the is a stone inscription in chinese which meaning will become clear later...
My colleague is always in..
The guide said: "Go ahead, I'll follow you in a minute."
Oh well, getting lost is impossible because you can't go down the wall, but it seemed strange to us that she was leaving us alone.
We started climbing...