The Great Wall of China in Beijing

Photo of The Great Wall of China in Beijing, Beijing Shi
Photo of The Great Wall of China in Beijing, Beijing Shi
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Photo of The Great Wall of China in Beijing, Beijing Shi
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The Great Wall of China
Also known as:Wan-Li Ch'ang-Ch'eng

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This is the most massive construction project undertaken in ancient times. The Great Wall rambles across 4,500 miles of hills, desert, and mountains from Shan-hai Pass to Phai-yü Pass keeping ancient enemies at bay. No single person or government is responsible for building the Great Wall. It is made up of a number of smaller walls erected by the warlords of the various provinces that would be united under Shih Huang-ti around 200bc. He took many of those existing walls and ordered them to be connected into a single defense system. That's why the main wall is only 4,100 miles long -- much of the rest are branches and offshoots left over from before China's unification. Because of geography, its fragmented past and construction over hundreds of years, different sections of the wall are made from different materials. Some of the earliest fortifications were nothing more than minimal defenses placed on top of existing dikes. Others were huge formal walls, resembling the stonework of European castles, balancing on the crests of windswept mountain ridges. The walls, themselves, vary in form but are generally about 21 feet wide at the bottom, and 19 feet at the top. They stand between 23 and 26 feet tall, depending on the terrain. For the most part the inside of the wall is made of compacted dirt. The outside is faced with brick, stone, or even wood in some sections. The walls are paralleled by drainage ditches to help reduce water damage. Today, large portions of the wall are gone -- destroyed by both man and nature. After the death of Shih Huang-ti many sections of the wall were abandoned until Emperor Wu-ti rose to power in 141bc. He ordered that beacon fires be lit at regular intervals, and guard towers and castles erected along its most vulnerable section. This secure zone became known to merchants and traders in the area who used it as a way to move their goods without fear from bandits. It became known as the Silk Route. Since then a number of expansions and restorations have been necessary. Some of them using millions of workers and new advances in technology to create the barrier. Because of the dozens of restoration projects over the centuries, large portions of the wall are still standing as strong as they did 2,500 years ago giving visitors a glimpse into the might that China's ancient dynasties commanded. Children used to be taught in school that the Great Wall of China was the only man-made object visible from space. This is now believed to be an urban legend. The Great Wall became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

Quick Facts
  • Construction start: 600 B.C.
  • Construction finish: 200
  • Type: Palace-Castle-Fortress
  • Maximum Length: 4,100 miles / 6,598 kilometers
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Your Thoughts

There are 14 comments.

  ea,Chang-Cheng(the great wall)is wonderful.though im a chinese,i just got there for one time~so im into next time :P

yea,Chang-Cheng(the great wall)is wonderful.though im a chinese,i just got there for one time~ - Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 @ 11:44am  

  go there last year on tour group but no enough time to see around. what an amazing structure and top art

tommy - Thursday, May 1st, 2008 @ 1:54pm  

  absolutely breathe taking... it truly represents the beauty and capability that the mind can posses.

nisha - Tuesday, February 26th, 2008 @ 9:59pm  

  I am saluting those persons who had contributed to make sach a great structure..........

disha - Saturday, October 13th, 2007 @ 2:28am  

  I give this work of artfive stars... if i could i would give it a ten. :Dwell i hope one day i can reise enough money to go to china with some of my freinds and walk the whole wall. (Yay!!)

Leticia - Tuesday, November 28th, 2006 @ 10:48pm  

  its amazing how somethn like that can be built

Jordan Thoreson - Tuesday, March 21st, 2006 @ 2:23pm  

  What a magnificent structure !!!

Barbara - Friday, October 7th, 2005 @ 6:59am  

  the great wall is the best and my favourite of the 7 wonders of the world

arlene - Wednesday, May 18th, 2005 @ 10:20pm  

  isn't it so beautiful? so long and ancient? love it so much!

annie - Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004 @ 6:29pm  

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