The Great Wall Travel Guide
He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man, said by Chairman Mao (Mao Zedong).
As China´s mandatory,must-see sight,the Great Wall wriggles fitfully from its scattered remains in Liaoning Province to Jiayu Pass in the Gobi Desert. It has the length of over 6,000 kilometers. It is one of the most remarkable feat of mankind, whose segments were built as long ago as 500 B.C.
Archaeologists estimate that serious work of building this project began in 220 B.C, when China´s first emperor Qin Shi Huang, conscripted millions of soldiers and peasants to participate in this dangerous undertaking.
Constructions continued over the centuries, with the most impressive portions built during the 14th century Ming Dynasty. From the statement "Square walls surround the Kingdom of Chu," we can trace walls with a total length of 500 kilometers in what is now Henan Province dating back to the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256 BC).
In addition to Chu, the kingdoms of Qin, Qi, Wei, Zhao, Han and Yan all had their own separate defensive walls spread about through the Yellow and Yangtze River basins, running in different directions and beginning and ending abruptly. Badaling Great Wall is one of the best preserved segments and the highest point of The Great Wall.
In summer, the peaks here are covered with brilliant stretches of leaves and luxuriant flowers. As early as the 13th century, the area was known for its beauty, and was listed as one of the "Eight Great Sights of Yanjing." The name "Juyong" first appeared in the huainanzi, a philosophical work from the second century BC, in the following annotation: "The Juyong Pass is one of the nine great passes in the country."
Walk along the wall overlooking splendid mountainous scenery. The surrounding scenery is raw and impressive and this is the place to come to see the wall snaking off into the distance over the undulating hills.
Long History of Construction and Large Scale of Engineering
The Great Wall was used to defend the county´s lands in ancient time. The construction of the wall began during the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC) and Warring States period (475-221 BC) during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty.
Ducal states at that time built walls to defend their own territories. After the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty crushed all rival states, he founded the first centralized and unified dynasty in Chinese history. To consolidate the country and ward off invasion by ethnic minority tribes in the north, he had the walls linked and extended, giving rise to the 5,000-kilometer-long Qin Great Wall. Later dynasties from Han (206 BC-AD 220) to Ming (1368-1644) kept building and improving the wall, extending it more than 1,000 kilometers to today´s scale.
Varied Terrain and Peculiar Structure
Being defensive works, The Great Wall crossed over mountain after mountain, passed though desert and grassland, and surmounted crags and streams; with such a varied terrain it went through and so peculiar a structure it needed, the Great Wall certainly deserved to be acclaimed as a string marvel in the history of ancient architectural engineering.
In the desert areas with boundless shifting sand and the lack of brick and stone, the Han Great Wall was built of local gravel and red willow in courses. With the compressive resistance of the gravel and the binding property of the red willow brought into full play, the wall body possessed a remarkable solidity. Weathered in the vile desert conditions for more than 2,000 years, many sections of it still stand today as high as dozens of meters.
In the Loess Plateau region of northwestern China, the Great Wall was largely built of rammed earth or adobe, comparable to brick and stone in solid durability. For example, the Jiayuguan section in Gansu was made of loess specially carried from Heishan Hill so me dozen km west of the Pass; the earth was tamped compact with ram impressions tightly connected with each other so as to prevent the wall body from deformation and break.
In the Ming period, The Great Wall was built mainly of brick, stone or the two materials in mixture. The wall body was surfaced with bricks or long narrow stones; the chinks were filled with lime mortar so even and tight that grass and shrubs were difficult to root in them; along the top, a channel was opened to drain rain water and protect the wall.
Along the Great Wall, castles were built at road intersections of strategic significance, dangerous defiles and junctions between the mountain and the seaboard for transportation and defense purpose.
When the wall crossed over a river, a water gate would be constructed beneath the wall body to let the stream flow on. To meet the needs of defense, projective platforms were made on the wall body not far away from each other to facilitate shooting at the closing-in enemy and towers were erected at intervals for housing garrisons, storing their weapons and provisions and providing them with blind ages in battles.
Separate beacon towers were scattered along the Great Wall At the time of raids by the enemy, smoke would be produced in daylight and fire would be lit at night to relay the message..
Rich Cultural Contents of the Great Wall
From the beginning of its construction the Great Wall and its vicinity became a stage of glorious historical dramas Many great, soul-stirring campaigns broke out here, and many events in dynastic changes were in connection with its successful defend and unfortunate fall. It can be said that a considerable part of Chinese history unfolded around the Great Wall.
Numbers of celebrated figures, including numerous strategists and statesmen, sprang up in famous battles at the Great Wall, which greatly enriched the cultural contents of the age old building.
Li Mu, a general of the Zhao State in the Warring States Period, created dazzling achievements and pioneered in the development of rampart defensive warfare in directing the construction of the Great Wall and in commanding victorious battles of resistance against the Xiongnu tribes, and thus earned the respect of the broad masses. To commemorate his merits, a Li Mu Temple was later built at the Yanmenguan Pass, whose ruins remain today.
Why it is nust-see sight?
It is one of eight wonders in the world. There is a saying that "He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man." So you should not miss it if you come to China.
Many beautiful legends are centered on the construction of the Great Wall and on offensive and defensive campaigns around the works. Among them the most noted is the story about the collapse of a section of the Great Wall caused by Meng Jiangnv´s tears, which has been spread widely in folk songs and traditional operas .Near the Shanhaiguan Pass, the Meng Jiangnu Temple stands with her sculptured image highly worshiped by devout men and women.
Tour bus No.1, No.2, No.4 and No.5 will get to the Badaling Great Wall.
Unless you visit it during the bitterly cold days of winter,however, don´t anticipate a one-to-one with the Wall,and ready for guide rails,a carnival of souvenir stalls and squads of tourists surging over the ramparts. A summer weekend trip reminds you that China has the world´s largest population,so choose for a weekday excursion.