Wonder of the World: The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China – longest man-made structure ever built – is considered one of the greatest wonders of the world, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Walling Off InvadersIn all, it’s more than just one wall. The Great Wall consists of east-to-west wall systems built at different times by different emperors over 2,000 years. Initially constructed to keep out nomadic invaders like the Mongols, the Great Wall is often considered a figurative barrier as well, separating Chinese culture and people from the rest of the world.
What Makes This Wall GreatStretching 5,500 miles, the Great Wall is a hodge-podge of materials, made of wood or stone in some places, brick and compacted earth in others. It’s long enough to cross the U.S. and not quite back, and often compared to a dragon or snake winding around mountains, deserts, parks, and plateaus. The wall is 15 to 30 feet thick, and up to 26 feet tall: imposing enough in a physical and psychological sense to keep people in and invaders out.
Where to Go: The Best-Preserved SectionsToday, most travelers head north of Beijing to Badaling to view the Great Wall of China, where some of the best-preserved sections were built in the 1500s during the Ming Dynasty. This wall section was rebuilt in the late 1950s, and attracts thousands of locals and visitors daily from around the world. Perhaps this section’s most famous wall-walkers were U.S. President Richard Nixon and Chinese Vice Premier Li Xiannian in 1972, on Nixon’s historic journey to China.
An alternative is to visit the Great Wall at Juyonguan, some 30 miles north of Beijing. Guan means mountain pass, and the wall here passes through the 11-mile Guangou Valley before it climbs into the mountains. This section was linked to the rest of the wall from the 4th to the 6th centuries, and restored in the 20th and 21st. The Ming Dynasty white marble Cloud Platform sits in the middle of the pass, carved with gods and sacred sutras. From here you can climb the steep stairs to the top of the wall for wonderful views. There is also a wheelchair-friendly section of the wall here.
Walking through history at Badaling
Photo: Dmitry Rudich
Travel to China with MIRMIR has 30 years travel experience in crafting journeys to legendary destinations at the crossroads of Europe an Asia. Clients rave about our on-the-ground support and stellar tour managers. MIR’s full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”
MIR has a variety of small group tours and rail journeys by private train that delve into China. You can also have a custom, private trip, complete with an exploration of the Great Wall of China, handcrafted to fit your pace, budget and interests
30 years of travel expertise means that the specialists at MIR know how to get there, what to do while you’re there, and how to enhance your trip in each of our destinations.
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Top photo: One of the many breathtaking views of the Great Wall of China. Photo credit: China National Tourist Office.
PUBLISHED: February 3, 2016