Voltaire called it a monument to fear. Franz Kafka called it a great feat of human engineering. Along with the pyramids, the Great Wall of China is one of those structures that conjures up images of a majestic creation of humankind.
A breathtaking 13,171 miles (21,196 km) of wall cuts across the northern regions of China near the border of Mongolia. Consider this: The circumference of the planet Earth is 24,901 miles (40,075 km) – meaning if laid out end to end, the Great Wall of China would reach more than halfway around the world!
Therefore, it must be included on anyone’s travel bucket list. It’s certainly a popular destination for Nezasa travelers, who can download the Quick Guide to the Great Wall which describes the best parts of the wall to visit. Anyone who stays in Beijing can easily visit it on a day trip, and the more adventurous can take long treks and stay in various places along the way. However you want to do it, the guide will be a useful resource during your trip to China.
A little more about the Great Wall of China:
This is a structure dating back to the 7th century BC, painstakingly built with hundreds of thousands – even millions – of hands over hundreds of years. The sheer amount of manpower that went into the wall – and the devastating toll – has earned it the nickname “the longest cemetery on Earth”.
Many of the wall’s early sections – some of which still stands in inner Mongolia – were built during the reign of the first Emperor of China, in 220-210 BC when the country grew beyond its borders and became a kingdom for the first time. However, the wall saw its greatest expansion during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) when some 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of wall was built. Check out this timeline and you’ll get an idea of how much was built during each dynasty period in Chinese history.
At first glance, it’s easy to imagine the defence capabilities of such a formidable structure. With its numerous watchtowers, garrison stations and military barracks, the wall served as a very powerful barrier against invaders. Nevertheless, the wall didn’t serve its purpose well during the Mongolian invasions of the 13th century, led by Kublai Khan in the first-ever successful occupation of the region. Some historical documents show that the Mongols either bribed tower guards as they invaded, or simply circumvented the wall itself as they moved into Chinese territory.
The wall didn’t simply serve military purposes, however – it also was useful for transporting goods along the Silk Road, border control, regulation and encouragement of trade with other areas of China and the rest of Asia, human migration control and, of course, as a convenient transportation corridor.
Find the Quick Guide here: The Great Wall of China