The Great Wall is the must see for every visitor coming to Beijing and it is therefore an essential part of most Beijing Tours. By bus it takes between two and three hours from the city center depending on the location you want to go to. There are several ones, some more popular than others where you can see the wall in differently well preserved states. But this feeling you experience when you are there makes up for the wait. So, don’t miss this famous site on your China Tours.

Due to geological conditions Asian and western cultures developed almost independently from each other during long periods in history. Until today many details about Chinese history are unknown to visitors from western countries. Everybody knows about the Great Wall but few people are familiar with its long and interesting history so here is a quick overview.

Construction of the Great Wall began even before China’s first imperial dynasty in belligerent times, known as the Spring and Autumn Period and the following Warring States Period. These periods are part of the Eastern Zhou dynasty which was the last dynasty before the reunification of the territory and the first imperial dynasty.

During this time seven rivaling states fought against each other and built individual walls to defend their territory against the attack of the enemy states. Stamping earth, gravel and stones were the main materials of these walls. After more than 200 years of mightily fights the state called Qin became the most powerful one conquering other states and finally destroying them.

Their king, who became known as Shi Huangdi, founded the Qin dynasty (221-207 BC) and by uniting all seven states he became the first emperor of China. He decided to join the existing walls together and added some more sections as a defense against the northern tribes, Mongolian people being the most feared enemy. When this huge project was finished the wall had a total length of over 5,000 kilometers (about 3,100 miles) in an east to west line and its remainders still mark the historical northern border of China.

After the decline of the comparably short Qin dynasty the Han dynasty was founded (206 BC – 220 AD). It became one of China’s early golden ages, a time when the consolidation of the state lead to cultural, economical and technological glory. During this period the existing walls were reinforced and lengthened. At that point in time the Great Wall reached its longest extension with a total length of more than 8,000 kilometers (about 5,000 miles) including branching walls, tranches and natural barriers such as hills and rivers.

Many parts of this ancient man-made architectural masterpiece created in early times with unimaginable efforts has been a destination for many people interested in architecture, ancient sites and old civilization for numerous years. Many planned tours to the Great Wall even offer pick-up services from your Beijing Hotels so you can get there easily by coach.
Read part two for more history about the Great Wall.

Jack Li

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