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The Great Wall*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Great Wall
State Party Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii, iv, vi
Reference 438
Region** Asia-Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription 1987  (11th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.

The Great Wall of China (simplified Chinese: traditional Chinese: pinyin: Chángchéng; literally "long city/fortress" or simplified Chinese: traditional Chinese: pinyin: Wànlǐ Chángchéng; literally "The long wall of 10,000 Li ()"[1]) is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built, rebuilt, and maintained between the 5th century BC and the 16th century to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire. Since the 5th century BC, several walls have been built that were referred to as the Great Wall. One of the most famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains; the majority of the existing wall were built during the Ming Dynasty.

The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Nur in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. The most comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has recently concluded that the entire Great Wall, with all of its branches, stretches for 8,851.8 km (5,500.3 mi). This is made up of 6,259.6 km (3,889.5 mi) of sections of actual wall, 359.7 km (223.5 mi) of trenches and 2,232.5 km (1,387.2 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.[2][3][4]

Contents

History

Great Wall of the Qin Dynasty
Great Wall of the Han Dynasty
Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty
Map of the whole wall constructions

The Chinese were already familiar with the techniques of wall-building by the time of the Spring and Autumn Period, which began around the 8th century BC. During the Warring States Period from the 5th century BC to 221 BC, the states of Qi, Yan and Zhao all constructed extensive fortifications to defend their own borders. Built to withstand the attack of small arms such as swords and spears, these walls were made mostly by stamping earth and gravel between board frames. Qin Shi Huang conquered all opposing states and unified China in 221 BC, establishing the Qin Dynasty. Intending to impose centralized rule and prevent the resurgence of feudal lords, he ordered the destruction of the wall sections that divided his empire along the former state borders. To protect the empire against intrusions by the Xiongnu people from the north, he ordered the building of a new wall to connect the remaining fortifications along the empire's new northern frontier. Transporting the large quantity of materials required for construction was difficult, so builders always tried to use local resources. Stones from the mountains were used over mountain ranges, while rammed earth was used for construction in the plains. There are no surviving historical records indicating the exact length and course of the Qin Dynasty walls. Most of the ancient walls have eroded away over the centuries, and very few sections remain today. Later, the Han, Sui, Northern and Jin dynasties all repaired, rebuilt, or expanded sections of the Great Wall at great cost to defend themselves against northern invaders.

The Great Wall concept was revived again during the Ming Dynasty following the Ming army's defeat by the Oirats in the Battle of Tumu in 1449. The Ming had failed to gain a clear upper-hand over the Manchurian and Mongolian tribes after successive battles, and the long-drawn conflict was taking a toll on the empire. The Ming adopted a new strategy to keep the nomadic tribes out by constructing walls along the northern border of China. Acknowledging the Mongol control established in the Ordos Desert, the wall followed the desert's southern edge instead of incorporating the bend of the Huang He.

Photograph of the Great Wall in 1907

Unlike the earlier Qin fortifications, the Ming construction was stronger and more elaborate due to the use of bricks and stone instead of rammed earth. As Mongol raids continued periodically over the years, the Ming devoted considerable resources to repair and reinforce the walls. Sections near the Ming capital of Beijing were especially strong.[citation needed]

During the 1440s–1460s, the Ming also built a so-called "Liaodong Wall". Similar in function to the Great Wall (whose extension, in a sense, it was), but more basic in construction, the Liaodong Wall enclosed the agricultural heartland of the Liaodong province, protecting it against potential incursions by Jurched-Mongol Oriyanghan from the northwest and the Jianzhou Jurchens from the north. While stones and tiles were used in some parts of the Liaodong Wall, most of it was in fact simply an earth dike with moats on both sides.[5]

Towards the end of the Ming Dynasty, the Great Wall helped defend the empire against the Manchu invasions that began around 1600. Under the military command of Yuan Chonghuan, the Ming army held off the Manchus at the heavily fortified Shanhaiguan pass, preventing the Manchus from entering the Chinese heartland. The Manchus were finally able to cross the Great Wall in 1644, when the gates at Shanhaiguan were opened by Wu Sangui, a Ming border general who disliked the activities of rulers of the Shun Dynasty. The Manchus quickly seized Beijing, and defeated the newly founded Shun Dynasty and remaining Ming resistance, to establish the Qing Dynasty.

In 2009, an additional 290 kilometres (180 miles) of previously undetected portions of the wall, built during the Ming Dynasty, were discovered. The newly discovered sections range from the Hushan mountains in the northern Liaoning province to Jiayuguan in western Gansu province. The sections had been submerged over time by sandstorms that moved across the arid region.[6]

Under Qing rule, China's borders extended beyond the walls and Mongolia was annexed into the empire, so construction and repairs on the Great Wall were discontinued.

Notable areas

An area of the sections of the Great Wall at Jinshanling
The Great Wall

Some of the following sections are in Beijing municipality, which were renovated and which are regularly visited by modern tourists today.

  • "North Pass" of Juyongguan pass, known as the Badaling. When used by the Chinese to protect their land, this section of the wall has had many guards to defend China’s capital Beijing. Made of stone and bricks from the hills, this portion of the Great Wall is 7.8 meters (25.6 ft) high and 5 meters (16.4 ft) wide.
  • "West Pass" of Jiayuguan (pass). This fort is near the western edges of the Great Wall.
  • "Pass" of Shanhaiguan. This fort is near the eastern edges of the Great Wall.
  • One of the most striking sections of the Ming Great Wall is where it climbs extremely steep slopes. It runs 11 kilometers (7 mi) long, ranges from 5 to 8 meters (16–26 ft) in height, and 6 meters (19.7 ft) across the bottom, narrowing up to 5 meters (16.4 ft) across the top. Wangjinglou is one of Jinshanling's 67 watchtowers, 980 meters (3,215 ft) above sea level.
  • South East of Jinshanling, is the Mutianyu Great Wall which winds along lofty, cragged mountains from the southeast to the northwest for approximately 2.25 kilometers (about 1.3 miles). It is connected with Juyongguan Pass to the west and Gubeikou to the east.
  • 25 km west of the Liao Tian Ling stands of part of Great wall which is only 2~3 stories high. According to the records of Lin Tian, the wall was not only extremely short compared to others, but it appears to be silver. Archeologists explain that the wall appears to be silver because the stone they used were from Shan Xi, where many mines are found. The stone contains extremely high metal in it causing it to appear silver. However, due to years of decay of the Great Wall, it is hard to see the silver part of the wall today.

Another notable section lies near the eastern extremity of the wall, where the first pass of the Great Wall was built on the Shanhaiguan (known as the “Number One Pass Under Heaven”), the first mountain the Great Wall climbs. Jia Shan is also here, as is the Jiumenkou, which is the only portion of the wall that was built as a bridge. Shanhaiguan Great Wall is called the “Museum of the Construction of the Great Wall”, because of the Meng Jiang-Nyu Temple, built during the Song Dynasty.

Characteristics

The Great Wall on an 1805 map

Before the use of bricks, the Great Wall was mainly built from rammed earth, stones, and wood.

During the Ming Dynasty, however, bricks were heavily used in many areas of the wall, as were materials such as tiles, lime, and stone. The size and weight of the bricks made them easier to work with than earth and stone, so construction quickened. Additionally, bricks could bear more weight and endure better than rammed earth. Stone can hold under its own weight better than brick, but is more difficult to use. Consequently, stones cut in rectangular shapes were used for the foundation, inner and outer brims, and gateways of the wall. Battlements line the uppermost portion of the vast majority of the wall, with defensive gaps a little over 30 cm (one foot) tall, and about 23 cm (9 inches) wide.

Condition

The Great Wall at Mutianyu, near Beijing
The Great Wall in fog

While some portions north of Beijing and near tourist centers have been preserved and even extensively renovated, in many locations the Wall is in disrepair. Those parts might serve as a village playground or a source of stones to rebuild houses and roads.[7] Sections of the Wall are also prone to graffiti and vandalism. Parts have been destroyed because the Wall is in the way of construction.[8]

More than 60 kilometres (37 mi) of the wall in Gansu province may disappear in the next 20 years, due to erosion from sandstorms. In places, the height of the wall has been reduced from more than five meters (16.4 ft) to less than two meters. The square lookout towers that characterize the most famous images of the wall have disappeared completely. Many western sections of the wall are constructed from mud, rather than brick and stone, and thus are more susceptible to erosion.[9]

Watchtowers and barracks

Watchtower

Communication between the army units along the length of the Great Wall, including the ability to call reinforcements and warn garrisons of enemy movements, was of high importance. Signal towers were built upon hill tops or other high points along the wall for their visibility.

Visibility from space

The Great Wall of China as seen in a false-color radar image from the Space Shuttle, taken in April 1994
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Visibility from the moon

Popular beliefs ranging from Ripley's Believe It or Not!'s cartoons from 1930s, which claimed that the Great Wall is "the mightiest work of man, the only one that would be visible to the human eye from the moon," to Richard Halliburton's 1938 book Second Book of Marvels which makes a similar claim, have persisted, assuming urban legend status, and sometimes even appearing in school textbooks. Arthur Waldron, author of The Great Wall of China: From History to Myth, has speculated that the belief might go back to the fascination with the "canals" once believed to exist on Mars.

One of the earliest known references to this myth appears in a letter written in 1754 by the English antiquary William Stukeley. Stukeley wrote that, "This mighty wall of four score miles in length (Hadrian's Wall) is only exceeded by the Chinese Wall, which makes a considerable figure upon the terrestrial globe, and may be discerned at the moon."[10]

The Great Wall is a maximum 9.1 m (30 ft) wide and is about the same color as the soil surrounding it. Based on the optics of resolving power (distance versus the width of the iris: a few millimetres for the human eye, metres for large telescopes) only an object of reasonable contrast to its surroundings 70 miles or more in diameter (1 arc-minute) would be visible to the unaided eye from the moon, whose average distance from Earth is 384,393 km (238,857 miles). The apparent width of the Great Wall from the moon is the same as that of a human hair viewed from 2 miles away. To see the wall from the moon would require spatial resolution 17,000 times better than normal (20/20) vision.[11] Unsurprisingly, no lunar astronaut has ever claimed seeing the Great Wall from the moon.

Visibility from low earth orbit

A more controversial question is whether the Wall is visible from low earth orbit, i.e., an altitude of as little as 100 miles (160 km). NASA claims that it is barely visible, and only under nearly perfect conditions; it is no more conspicuous than many other man-made objects.[12] Other authors have argued that due to limitations of the optics of the eye and the spacing of photoreceptors on the retina, it is impossible to see the wall with the naked eye, even from low orbit, and would require visual acuity of 20/3 (7.7 times better than normal).[11]

Anecdotal reports

Astronaut William Pogue thought he had seen it from Skylab but discovered he was actually looking at the Grand Canal of China near Beijing. He spotted the Great Wall with binoculars, but said that "it wasn't visible to the unaided eye." U.S. Senator Jake Garn claimed to be able to see the Great Wall with the naked eye from a space shuttle orbit in the early 1980s, but his claim has been disputed by several U.S. astronauts. Veteran U.S. astronaut Gene Cernan has stated: "At Earth orbit of 100 miles (160 km) to 200 miles (320 km) high, the Great Wall of China is, indeed, visible to the naked eye." Ed Lu, Expedition 7 Science Officer aboard the International Space Station, adds that, "it's less visible than a lot of other objects. And you have to know where to look."

Neil Armstrong stated about the view from Apollo 11: "I do not believe that, at least with my eyes, there would be any man-made object that I could see. I have not yet found somebody who has told me they've seen the Wall of China from Earth orbit. ...I've asked various people, particularly Shuttle guys, that have been many orbits around China in the daytime, and the ones I've talked to didn't see it."[13]

Topographic maps put together showing the location of the eastern parts of the wall between the Yellow River and the Bohai Sea.

In October 2003, Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei stated that he had not been able to see the Great Wall of China. In response, the European Space Agency (ESA) issued a press release reporting that from an orbit between 160 and 320 km, the Great Wall is visible to the naked eye. In an attempt to further clarify things, the ESA published a picture of a part of the “Great Wall” photographed from Space. However, in a press release a week later (no longer available in the ESA’s website), they acknowledged that the "Great Wall" in the picture was actually a river.[11]

Leroy Chiao, a Chinese-American astronaut, took a photograph from the International Space Station that shows the wall. It was so indistinct that the photographer was not certain he had actually captured it. Based on the photograph, the China Daily later reported that the Great Wall can be seen from space with the naked eye, under favorable viewing conditions, if one knows exactly where to look.[14] However, the resolution of a camera can be much higher than the human visual system, and the optics much better, rendering photographic evidence irrelevant to the issue of whether it is visible to the naked eye.[11]

Gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ 10,000 li = 6,508 km (4,000 miles). In Chinese, 10,000 figuratively means "infinite", and the number should not be interpreted for its actual value, but rather as meaning the "infinitely long wall".
  2. ^ "Great Wall of China 'even longer'". BBC. 2009-04-20. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8008108.stm. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  3. ^ "China's Great Wall far longer than thought: survey". AFP. 2009-04-20. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hZntU8l3vH1I21vcievtc-QIryLA. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  4. ^ "China's Great Wall far longer than thought: survey". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2009-04-20. http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/chinas-great-wall-far-longer-than-thought-survey-20090420-acas.html. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  5. ^ Edmonds, Richard Louis (1985). Northern Frontiers of Qing China and Tokugawa Japan: A Comparative Study of Frontier Policy. University of Chicago, Department of Geography; Research Paper No. 213. pp. 38–40. ISBN 0-89065-118-3. 
  6. ^ "Great Wall of China longer than believed as 180 missing miles found; Using infrared range finders and GPS devices, official mapping project discovers sections concealed by hills, trenches and rivers,' Guardian.co.uk, April 20, 2009
  7. ^ Ford, Peter (2006, Nov 30). New law to keep China's Wall looking great. Christian Science Monitor, Asia Pacific section. Accessed 2007-03-17.
  8. ^ Bruce G. Doar: The Great Wall of China: Tangible, Intangible and Destructible. China Heritage Newsletter, China Heritage Project, Australian National University
  9. ^ "China's Wall becoming less and less Great". Reuters. 2007-08-29. http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSPEK274699. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  10. ^ The Family Memoirs of the Rev. William Stukeley (Durham: Surtees Society, 1882-1887) Vol. 3, p. 142.
  11. ^ a b c d Norberto López-Gil. "Is it Really Possible to See the Great Wall of China from Space with a Naked Eye?". Journal of Optometry 1 (1): 3–4. http://www.journalofoptometry.org/Archive/vol1/pdf/02%20Vol1-n1%20Letter%20to%20the%20Editor.pdf. 
  12. ^ NASA – Great Wall of China
  13. ^ NASA
  14. ^ Markus, Francis. (2005, April 19). Great Wall visible in space photo. BBC News, Asia-Pacific section. Accessed 2007-03-17.

Further reading

  • Arnold, H.J.P, "The Great Wall: Is It or Isn't It?" Astronomy Now, 1995.
  • Hessler, Peter. "Walking the Wall". The New Yorker, May 21, 2007, pp. 56–65.
  • Lovell, Julia. The Great Wall: China against the World. 1000 BC - 2000 AD. London: Atlantic Books; Sydney, Australia: Picador, 2006. ISBN 978-0330-42241-3; ISBN 0-330-42241-3.
  • Man, John. (2008). The Great Wall. London: Bantam Press. 335 pages. ISBN 9780593055748. 
  • Michaud, Roland (photographer); Sabrina Michaud (photographer), & Michel Jan, The Great Wall of China. Abbeville Press, 2001. ISBN 0-7892-0736-2
  • Waldron, Arthur, The Great Wall of China: From History to Myth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • Yamashita, Michael; Lindesay, William (2007). The Great Wall — From Beginning to End. New York: Sterling. 160 pages. ISBN 978-1-4027-3160-0. 

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Great Wall of China article)

From Wikitravel

Asia : East Asia : China : Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China at Badaling
Great Wall of China at Badaling

The Great Wall of China (长城 Chángchéng) stretches from Liaoning Province through Hebei Province, Tianjin Municipality, Beijing Municipality, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Shanxi Province, Shaanxi Province, and Ningxia Autonomous Region to Gansu Province within the country of China.

Understand

The Great Wall of China can be visited at many places along its length of several thousand kilometers. Its condition ranges from excellent to ruined and access from straightforward to quite difficult.

History

The Great Wall, as we know it, is actually a series of several walls built at different times by different emperors.

  • Second Great Wall - built by the Han Dynasty 205-127 BC
  • Third Great Wall - built by the Jin Dynasty 1200 AD
  • Fourth Great Wall - built by the Ming Dynasty 1367-1644

First Great Wall

The First Great Wall was ordered built in 214 BC by Qin Shi Huangdi after he had finished consolidating his rule and creating a unified China for the first time. The wall was designed to stop raids by the Xiongnu raiders from the north. 500,000 laborers were used during the 32 year building period to create the First Great Wall.

Although the wall worked at keeping out enemies, it did nothing to stop internal pressures which lead to a regime change in 206 BC and the new leadership of the Han Dynasty. The first Han emperor, Taizong, was quick to see the benefits of the wall against the raiders and ordered more wall to stretch out as far as Zhaoxiang, Gansu Province.

Second Great Wall

Over 70 years later, the Han Dynasty were still fighting the raiders since the Great Wall had been left to deteriorate and the raiders had breached it in several places. In 130 BC, Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty embarked on a program of extending, rebuilding and fortifying the original First Great Wall. After the emperor finished adding more regions under his rule in 127 BC, he ordered a major expansion program that created the Second Great Wall, outposts in Zhangye, Wuwei, Jiuquan, Dunhuang and Yumenguan in Gansu Province and Lopnor and other outposts in Xinjiang Province. The Great Wall was extended down the Hexi Corridor through which the Silk Road traders would travel on the way to and from the West.

When the Han Dynasty fell apart into the three kingdoms of the Wei, Shu and Wu, the northern Wei kingdom decided to continue maintaining the Great Wall so that they could keep out the Rouran and Qidan nomads from the northern plains. Despite the constant maintenance, the Wall kept being breached by the Rouran nomads. Additional walls were built inside and outside of the Great Wall by the different kingdoms. Eventually the Wei kingdom merged with the unifying Sui kingdom and was overthrown by the Tang Dynasty in 618 AD.

Nothing more was done to the Great Wall until the reign of the Liao and Song dynasties. The Liao Dynasty controlled the north while the Song Dynasty controlled the south. The Liao were troubled mainly by a tribe in the northeast region of China called the Nuzhen (known as Manchu in Mandarin) so they built defensive walls along the Heilong and Songhua rivers. These failed to stop the raiders from coming south.

Third Great Wall

In 1115, the Nuzhen established the Jin Dynasty and since they were from the north themselves, understood that the Mongols were right behind them. The Jin emperor ordered the construction of a Third Great Wall to be built in Heilongjiang Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The walls built had the characteristics of having ditches running along the walls full length.

Despite the impressive fortifications built, the Mongols overthrew the Jin in 1276 and established the Yuan Dynasty. During the Yuan dynasties rule, the Wall fell into deep disrepair and in 1368, the Chinese Ming Dynasty walked right in and took control.

The Ming Dynasty, after getting rid of the Mongols, determined that they would never be taken again by outsiders. The first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Hongwu, re-established manning of the Great Wall, fortresses and garrisons were built along the wall, and the fort at Jiayuguan was built in 1372 at the western end of the wall. The second Ming emperor, Yongle, turned his focus outward from the empire and sent out explorers and diplomats into the big, wide world.

Fourth Great Wall

It was not until the battle of Tumu against the Mongols that renewed interest in reinforcing the Great Wall occurred. Between 1569 and 1583, the most well-known parts of the Great Wall were built, the Fourth Great Wall. The reinforced wall managed to repel Mongols several times.

The Manchu retook China in 1644 and formed the Qing Dynasty. From this point on, the Wall slowly started to fade away while stone and rocks were taken from the Wall for building projects and homes. The Cultural Revolution definitely took its toll out on the wall when local people and local governments were encouraged to help dismantle the Great Wall.

It was not until 1984 that President Deng Xiaoping started a restoration and protection project of the Great Wall. In 1987, the Great Wall was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Landscape

The geography of Northern China ranges from mountainous in northeast Liaoning and Hebei Provinces, through the grasslands of Ningxia, semi-arid desert of China's loess plateau, and borders the sand dunes of the Tengger desert of Inner Mongolia. It is the area around Hebei and Beijing that most people associate with the Great Wall, but most of the Great Wall lies in the desert regions of the country.

Flora and fauna

Chinese wildlife is diverse, considering all of the different habitats available along the length of the Great Wall. From the rare Siberian tiger in the northeast to the protected and rare Giant Panda which lives in southern Gansu, Sichuan, and Shaanxi, you never know what you might see on a given day.

Wild mammals can be found in the north, such as the Manchurian weasel, brown and black bears, northern pika, and mandarin vole. Deer species include Sitka deer, roe deer and the long-sought-after spotted deer, which has many uses in Chinese medicine.

The birds of the region include various pheasants, black grouse, pine grosbeak, various woodpeckers, mandarin duck, and the fairy pitta, a rare migratory bird. Cranes are especially revered in China. Common, demoiselle, white-napes, hooded, and red-crowned cranes all breed in China.

You can find many tonic plants along the Great Wall, such as the rare ginseng (Panax ginseng). Chinese medicine has had many thousands of years to discover and use these tonic plants for the benefit of mankind.

Climate

Northern China has all four seasons and they arrive with a vengeance. Summer and winter temperatures normally reach extremes of over 40 degrees Celsius and -20 degrees Celsius respectively.

See

As the Great Wall of China is rather on the long side, there are a large number of places to visit it. The following list is divided by province/municipality.

Beijing

Great Wall at Simatai
Great Wall at Simatai

The most popular sites can be visited in one day starting from Beijing.

  • Badaling and Juyongguan are nearest Beijing, and these two are among the most crowded sections of the Great Wall.
  • Mutianyu is also close to Beijing but slightly less crowded than Badaling. Quite peaceful early in the morning. It has a ski lift to get onto and off the wall and a wheeled toboggan ride down on a metal track. Fun though a bit misplaced. Alternatively, you can hike up a series of steps.
  • Huanghuacheng one of the most well built sections of the Great Wall that caused the beheading of Lord Cai, the builder, for mismanagement and waste
  • Gubeikou, Jinshanling and Simatai are a bit farther from Beijing than other sections, but the extra time it takes to get there is rewarded with a very significant reduction in crowding and tourist traps. Services are also limited, however; make sure you bring your own supply of water and extra film. The most authentic part of the wall is at Simatai; the wall here is of original construction unlike Badaling. These three locations are 80 miles northeast of Beijing.
  • Hike from Jinshanling to Simatai The majority of the wall east of Jinshanling is also unrestored. The hike from Jinshangling to Simatai is roughly 10km. It is a significant hike in distance but more so in the elevation change, but you will be rewarded with spectacular views and a good day of exercise. Expect to spend anywhere from 2.5 hours to 6 hours on the wall, depending on your fitness level, ambition and frequency of photo ops. When you are half way between the two sections, there are hardly any tourists. In fact, more foreign tourists are seen doing this thorough hike than domestic Chinese tourists. Comfortable shoes and clothes are needed, as you will be hiking on moving bricks sometimes combined with steep climbs. Water and snacks should be in your backpack. But you will find some local vendors selling water and sometimes snacks on the wall. When you descend down from Simatai, there is a zip line available for RMB40. It's roughly 400m, and is over a river. It will take you down to the other side of the river, and includes a short boat ride back to catch your ground transport. During the middle of this hike, collectors will charge you again because you are entering another part of the Wall. If you are going between sections, there is little you can do about it other than turn back.

Hebei and Tianjin

Old Dragon's Head beginning of the Great Wall
Old Dragon's Head beginning of the Great Wall
  • Shanhaiguan, at the Old Dragon's Head, the wall juts out into the sea. To get there from Beijing takes about 3 hours by train.
  • Panjiakou Reservoir - sunken part of the Great Wall
  • Huangyaguan - worth a visit for its water run-off controls, well-preserved towers, challenging hiking and striking scenery

Liaoning

  • Hushan - can be explored from Dandong
  • Xingcheng - a Ming dynasty walled town
  • Jiumenkou - located 18 km east of "The First Pass Under Heaven' at Shanhaiguan

Shanxi

  • The Outer Wall of Shanxi - Li'erkou to Deshengbu, Juqiangbu to Laoniuwan, and along the Yellow River
  • The Inner Wall of Shanxi - Yanmenguan, Guangwu Old City, Ningwu Pass and Niangziguan

Shaanxi

  • Yulin and Shenmu - garrison towns in the time of the Ming dynasty

Ningxia

  • The Eastern Ningxia Wall - Hongshan Castle and Water Cave Gully (Shui Dong Gou)
  • The Northern Ningxia Wall - in the area of Hulanshan
  • The Western Ningxia Wall - Zhenbeibu and Sanguankou

Gansu

  • Minqin - oasis town
  • Jiayuguan - Fort at Jiayu Pass, nicknamed "Last Fort Under Heaven"
  • Lanzhou - former walled town that now is capital of Gansu Province

Stay safe

Bring a jacket against the wind or cold in the chillier seasons - In the summer you will need lots of water, but there are plenty of vendors at the most visited sections!

Hiking as a recreational sport is not well understood yet in China so the etiquette of crossing state and private land has not yet been established. Remember that the Wall is mostly mud and poorly supported stones, and that you are on your own if you're outside the maintained areas. Even if you are not walking on the wall, you will find few trails to follow and at some parts, the area the Wall traverses are vertical, treacherous and very unsafe. Besides that, it is difficult to obtain clean drinking water and some areas may even have no water at all. Other areas will have manmade obstacles, like roads and motorways that have solid fencing. Villages where you could get supplies may be few and far between. Some may take you miles away from the Wall. Poor cartography is still a problem here since maps of less than 1:450,000 are not easy to get a hold of due to the military applications of such maps. Besides that, guides who know the areas along the Great Wall are few and far between. Do not leave any trace of your visit. If the wall should be damaged by your actions, the authorities may very well take action with fines and other punishments. The last item to think about regarding hiking the Great Wall is that China has no system of mountain/wilderness rescue personnel. You will be on your own should something happen to you.

Scams - Beware of bus scams that may ruin your day. Also try to avoid organized tours to the Great Wall costing 100-150 Yuan. These are advertised by people handing out flyers around the Forbidden City in Beijing [1] for example (the real bus service to the Great Wall only costs 20 Yuan!). Also, the driver might just stop and set you off before your destination.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Proper noun

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Wikipedia

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Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Singular
Great Wall

Plural
-

Great Wall

  1. Shortened form of the Great Wall of China.
  2. (astronomy) Either of two identified areas containing hundreds of galaxies.

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