Visiting the Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is perhaps the most famous landmark in the entire country. It winds across 4,000 miles. The first construction on the wall started more than 2,000 years ago, with the most recent taking place during the time of the Ming Dynasty in 1368. Although many people think of this landmark as one structure, it is in fact constructed of several walls that are connected together across China, built by various warlords and dynasties over the ages. The origins of the Great Wall began in 656 B.C. First called the Rectangle Wall, the Chu State erected this structure to protect them from potential threats. The Rectangle Wall ran along the border of the state, connecting small city areas.
In 221 B.C., the Qin Dynasty followed the growing tradition of states constructing border walls for protection. They started construction of what we know as the Great Wall of China. Emperor Qin Shi Huang turned China into a feudal state. For protection, he deployed a million workers and soldiers to begin construction that would span nine years. This wall started in what is now Mongolia and reached the northern part of China. In 206 B.C., the Han Dynasty extended the wall by 6213 miles during war with the Huns, making the wall the longest stretch constructed and the longest period of construction.
From 386 to 581 there were another four dynasties which constructed parts of the wall. During this time period, the Dynasty who added the most was the Qi Dynasty who added 932 miles. Renovations were performed by Emperor Jingdi of the Northern Zhou Dynasty in 579 A.D. Finally during the Ming Dynasty, which spanned 1368 to 1644, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang renovated the wall during his reign and added watchtowers and fortifications. For two centuries the wall was strengthened to span 4536 miles and keep out invading Mongols.
If you are planning to visit Beijing, there are quite a few places you can stay that put you within short distance of notable parts of the Great Wall. There are all kinds of tours via bus or public transportation that can take you to various parts of the Wall. For example, tourists in Beijing may want to visit Simatai, a section of the Wall featuring watchtowers and steep mountain sections. Constructed 500 years ago, this part of the Wall has never been renovated.
Hiking through parts of the Great Wall of China is an activity you might enjoy if you want an athletic activity that is also a great way to see the most noteworthy landmark in the entire country. One of the most popular hikes spans from Jinshanling to Simatai and combines great exercise with spectacular views. You will need enough money for admission to both sites, a whole day to take your hike and enough energy to trek the 7.5 miles between these two points. However, no matter which part of the Wall you visit, you are bound to have a truly memorable experience!