It’s the ultimate landmark of China: the Great Wall. It’s famous all around the world and thanks to that fame, it’s served as the setting for countless films, attracts countless tourists… and is one of the many impressive structures considered to be the 7 Wonders of the World!

But what makes the wall so unbelievably fascinating that it holds on to its prominent status and is a destination for millions of people? Is it the length, the appearance or maybe something unusual? You’ll find the answer to that and more questions right here, as I want to share with you today everything about the Great Wall of China!

Great Wall

What makes the Great wall so special?

So, let’s be done with it – what is it that makes the Great Wall of China so special? Above all, it’s the incredible length of this wall. According to most recent findings, it covers a total length of unbelievable 21,196.18 km. Yes, you’ve read that right, it really is over twenty thousand kilometres long! This enormous length is also the reason for the name which was given to it by the Chinese. Namely it’s called the “Ten-Thousand-Mile-Long-Wall”, where the number ten thousand stands for endlessness. It contains over 43,000 individual properties and locations, and so it’s not a single wall, as is often assumed. Instead, it contains many individual sections partly from completely different eras.

The wall was supposed to serve as a fortified border and protect the Chinese Empire from invaders from the north. This was aided by numerous observation towers which would sound the alarm using fires and thus warn other guards about the danger. This way, the Emperor in the capital of Beijing (formerly Peking), could be informed, and dispatch troops quickly. The wall has already been completed in 7th century BC and it was later constantly expanded and further sections were added. The last expansion dates back to the 17th century during the Ming Dynasty. This 8,851 km long section is now regarded as the main wall and is the most often visited part of the wall.

Great Wall

Structure damaged by the tourist masses

What often happens to beloved tourist attractions? The impressive attendance exactly is exactly what makes it difficult to manage. Alongside damages from natural erosion there are, above all, tourists who keep damaging the wall through inconsiderate behaviour and illegally breaking off pieces of the masonry to take home as a souvenir. But it’s also the local farmers who damage the Great Wall by carrying off the wall’s bricks as building material. The damage is so great that already 30% of the wall from the Ming Period is completely destroyed and about 74% of this section is in a bad condition. Only merely 8% of the wall can be regarded as well preserved. These areas are now restored for the most part and popular among tourists – and lo and behold, that’s how the image of a perfectly preserved wall is maintained…

Great Wall

The best way to experience the Great Wall of China

If you’re already in the country, it’s simply a must to go and see the Great Wall of China. There are great bus links and tours from Beijing and a trip with a rental car is worthwhile too, since you’ll be able to see China’s mountainous landscape along the way. Depending on how you want to experience the wall, there are many different places which you’re bound to fall in love with. Both of the most famous sections, Badaling and Mutianyu near Beijing, are very well preserved, or rather renovated. Here you can get a pretty good impression of what the wall looked like originally – but you have to take other tourists into account, since both places are very popular. If you dig some adventure far away from the tourist masses, you should visit Jiankou, for example! The wall is left completely unpreserved and the pathways seem impassable – sounds exciting, right?

Great Wall

Myths and mysteries surrounding the wall

Several myths surrounding the wall for centuries make it even more exciting. In the middle of 18th century, William Stukeley claimed that the wall can be seen from the moon. This belief persists to this day, but sadly it’s false. The wall just can’t be seen from space, let alone from the moon. The reason being that with its maximum width of 10 metres, it’s just too narrow. If it was possible to see it from space, the same would apply to any slightly wider motorway in the world.

A further highlight on the way from Beijing to Badaling are the Ming Tombs. You can visit mausoleums of 13 emperors from the Ming dynasty here. The tombs are very magnificent and definitely included on the bucket list of every China visitor. You can feel the eerie but at the same time breathtaking atmosphere not only at the mausoleums but also at the sacred walk. The detailed sculptures along the path paid the emperors last respects on their journey to the afterlife – truly impressive and worth seeing not only by horror fans.

It’s incredible what an interesting story this wall has to tell, right? Have you ever been there? I want to hear all about it! :)