The Great Wall of China Perhaps the most recognizable symbol of China and its long and vivid history, it’s actually consists of numerous walls and fortifications, many running parallel to each other. By the survey done in modern time totally there are about 16 Great wall parallel to a few of them, coexist in different region along the ancient china north border. Originally conceived by Emperor Qin Shi Huang (c. 259-210 B.C.) in the third century B.C. as a means of preventing incursions from barbarian nomads into the Chinese Empire, the wall is one of the most extensive construction projects ever completed.
Why the Great wall of China is Great?
The Great Wall, also known as the The long and grand city of 10,000 li in Chinese (a li is half a kilometer), is included in the list of the "Seven Medieval Wonders of the World" (of course not one of the classical Seven Wonders of the World recognized by the ancient Greeks).
The Wall was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
The Chinese have a saying by founder of New China Mao zedong, you're not a real man if you haven't climbed the Great Wall.
But for what is the Wall great?
It's not, however, an easy question to answer.
Three period of time to build Great Walls
Many people know about the Great Wall. But maybe fewer know that there are actually three such Walls, build in different period of time. the longest built during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. ~ A.D. 220), following the Qin Dynasty, exceeding even 20,000 li. The Great Walls of the Han and Qin Dynasties still have remains, but most of them no longer exist. The Wall we, most tourists, see in Beijing and Hebei, today was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 ~ 1644). It stretches over 12,000 li from Jiumenkou near the Yalujiang River in the east, to Jiayuguan Pass in the west. When people refer to The Great Wall, usually means the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty. But in a broad sense, the term indicates one of the three Walls above.
In Chinese history, more than twenty states and dynasties built their own walls. Counted together, they come to a formidable length of 100,000 li.
Great Military Works
Ancient militarists believed that the best defense lies in both readiness for fight and unbeatable strength against assault. So on one hand, the dynasties built their Walls along the north boundaries to balk the intrusion of nomadic tribes and prepared for any battle along the defense lines. On the other hand, as the weapons of the enemies were being improved, the dynasties kept branching out their Walls and adding new functional parts to them. Take example for the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty, during the 16 years of his station in Bianzhen County, present Jixian County in Tianjin, General Qi Jiguang presided over building the part of Wall running more than 1,000 li from Bianzhen County to the Shanhaiguan Pass and along the line set up over 1,000 fight towers. It helped to keep the peace of the border for a long time. Besides filling out the Walls with new component parts, the dynasties also set up near the lines passes, pass cities and outer cities, counties, forts, and so forth. All these combined as a complete regional, rather than a linear, defense system. Here special mention is made that the outer city, which often sat in front of the pass city and whose one or more gates made certain angles, sometimes 90 degrees, to the gate of the pass city, preventing the enemy from flinging in straightforward and sharing burden of the pass city.
The Great Wall is also an architecture wonder of the ancients. It was so big a project that it was impossible to build it in uniform forms and materials in different places. So we can see parts of different materials and various shapes, which were depended on local resources. If you have chances to walk thought the whole route of the Wall, as done first in 1985, Jan Molen and Dick, the latter of which against cancer, you would see how diverse the Wall is.
Now, ground breaking science is re-writing its complex history and de-coding its mysteries to reveal that there is much more to the Great Wall than just bricks and mortar.
Cutting edge chemistry reveals that the secret to the Great Wall's remarkable strength is a simple ingredient found in every kitchen, and a new survey also determines that its length is truly amazing, as we finally solve the enigma at the heart of the world's greatest mega-structure.
Here is the summary of interesting facts about the Great wall of China that might justify why it is so great
- - While the Great Wall of China is not one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it is typically included in the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World.
- - In 1987, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) placed the Great Wall on its list of the world’s great national and historical sites.
- - That the Great Wall is a single, continuous wall built all at once is a myth. In reality, the wall is a discontinuous network of wall segments built by various dynasties to protect China’s northern boundary from furious nomad tribes, xiongnu(the Huns, Mongol, Manchus).
The Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure in the world
- - Because the Great Wall was discontinuous, Mongol invaders led by Genghis Khan (“universal ruler”) had no problem going around the wall and they subsequently conquered most of northern China between A.D. 1211 and 1223. They ruled all of China until 1368 when the Ming defeated the Mongols.
- - The dynasties after the Qin which seriously added to and rebuilt the Great Wall were the Han (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), Sui (A.D. 581-618), Jin (115-1234) and, most famously, the Ming (1368-1644). What survives today are the stone and brick walls predominately from the Ming dynasty.
- - It is common to hear that the mortar used to bind the stones was made from human bones or that men are buried within the Great Wall to make it stronger. However, the mortar was actually made from rice flour—and no bones, human or otherwise, have ever been found in any of the Great Wall's walls.
The Great Wall of China supposedly follows the tracks of a helpful dragon
- - According to legend, a helpful dragon traced out the course of the Great Wall for the workforce. The builders subsequently followed the tracks of the dragon.
- - A popular legend about the Great Wall is the story of Meng Jiang Nu, a wife of a farmer who was forced to work on the wall during the Qin Dynasty. When she heard her husband had died while working the wall, she wept until the wall collapsed, revealing his bones so she could bury them.
- - Uranus, or Tianwang, who was the personification of Heaven, is often portrayed on the reliefs found at strategic points and passes on the Great Wall.
- - Historian Arthur Walden established that the popular concept of one Great Wall, and even the name itself, entered Chinese consciousness not directly from the Chinese tradition, but rather through European sources who idealized the Wall. In fact, the Wall rarely appeared in Chinese art before the twentieth century.
- - Novelist Franz Kafka (1883-1924) praised the Great Wall as a great feat of human engineering. He even wrote a short story titled “The Great Wall of China” about an educated man who reflects on his life’s work overseeing the building of small portions of the Wall.
President Nixon’s historic visit to China dramatically increased tourism to the Wall
- - President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 increased tourism to the Great Wall. With increased tourism, sections of the Wall were restored, and after Mao Zedong’s death, the Chinese government recognized the Wall as a unifying symbol of the nation.
- - The Great Wall has often been compared to a dragon. In China, the dragon is a protective divinity and is synonymous with springtime and vital energy. The Chinese believed the earth was filled with dragons which gave shape to the mountains and formed the sinew of the land.
- - During the Ming dynasty, nearly one million soldiers were said to defend the Great Wall from “barbarians” and non-Chinese.
- - The manpower to build the Great Wall came from frontier guards, peasants, unemployed intellectuals, disgraced noblemen, and convicts. In fact, there existed a special penalty during the Qin and Han dynasties under which convicted criminals were made to work on the Wall.
- - Before the Ming dynasty, the wall was built with rammed earth, adobe, and stone. About 70% is made from rammed earth and adobe. Bricks were used after the Ming dynasty. A common and surprising ingredient is sticky rice mix in mortar to consolidate the wall.
- - The Chinese invented the wheelbarrow and used it extensively in building the Great Wall.
- - A section of the Great Wall in the Gansu province may disappear in the next 20 years due to erosion.
There are more than 10,000 watchtowers and beacon towers along the Great Wall
- - Watchtowers were built at regular intervals along the Great Wall and could be up to 40 feet tall. They were used as lookouts and fortresses as well as for housing garrisons of troops and stockpiled supplies. They were also signal stations, where beacons, smoke, or flags were used for messages. They also represented a tremendous diversity of architectural styles.
- - The Great Wall’s western section, with a long chain of watchtowers, provided defense for those traveling the Silk Road.
- - Parts of the Great Wall were surrounded by defensive moats, which were either filled with water or left as ditches.
- - To defend the Great Wall, the Chinese would use sophisticated weapons such as axes, sledge hammers, lances, crossbows, halberds, and a Chinese invention: gunpowder.
- - The last battle fought at the Great Wall was in 1938 during the Sino-Japanese War, which was between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. Bullet marks can still be seen in the Wall at Gubeikou.
- - Numerous temples were built along the Great Wall for the worship of the war god, Guandi.(as you can find out in Juyongguan Pass in Beijing along with magnificent defensive gate.)
- - The Great Wall of China is 25 feet high in some places and ranges from 15-30 feet wide.
- - The highest point of the Great Wall is in Beijing at Heita Mountain (5,033 feet/1,534 meters). The lowest point is at Laolongtou (sea level).
- - In 2004, there were over 41.8 million foreign visitors to the Great Wall of China.