Great Wall Beijing

Of the long list of incredible sites across China, perhaps the most famous of all is The Great Wall. Built over thousands of years, the wall stretches over 8,851 kilometers (5,500 miles). The wall begins in Hushan in Liaoning Province in the east and travels across China to the Jiayuguan Pass in Gansu Province in the west. It crosses through nine provinces. Most people have seen many photos of The Great Wall throughout their life, but nothing can prepare you for the feeling of actually visiting it. No visitor can help but feel awed by its magnificence, beauty, and the fact that it was built using simple tools.

The Great Wall is composed of many walls and fortifications that were originally begun in the 8th century BC during the Spring and Autumn Period as a defensive barrier between seven powerful kingdoms. In the second century BC, the Emperor Qin Shihuang, the first Emperor of China conquered the other kingdoms and founded the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC). He connected the walls and added some new sections. Over the many dynasties, The Great Wall was added on to and many new sections were built. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the peak of wall building was reached. The Ming Empire was frequently hassled by northern minority tribes and every Ming Dynasty Emperor added considerably to The Great Wall. In the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the wall was maintained and some additions were made, but the middle of the dynasty, work on the wall was abandoned.

Construction of The Great Wall
The Great Wall is composed of manConstruction of The Great Wall Beihai was originally designed to resemble a traditional Chinese legend about three magic Taoist mountains where immortals lived. It was believed that the three mountains had herbs that would make humans immortal. Emperors sought those mountains for centuries. The three lakes; Beihai, Zhonghai, and Nanhai along with their islands represent this legend.

The Great Wall had watchtowers, signal towers, and barracks located at regular intervals along the wall. Communication along the wall was done via large bonfires that could be lit on the signal towers. The signal towers were built on high points along the wall to provide visibility to the next signal tower. Many of the soldiers billeted along The Great Wall stayed there for decades and eventually married and had children, and many of their descendents are still there.

Notes of interest:

The section that receives the most visitors: Badaling Section
The easternmost section Hushan Section
The westernmost section Jiayuguan Section
The most dangerous section Jiankou Section
The most impressive fortress Jiayuguan Section
The most impressive tower Nine-eye Tower, Beijing
The most impressive gate Dajing Gate, Zhangjiakou
The first Foreigner to hike the entire wall William Edgar Geil (1908)
The first Chinese to hike the entire wall Liu Yutian (1984)

The top sections of China Great Wall around Beijing are Jinshanling Great Wall, Mutianyu Great Wall, Simatai Great Wall, Huanghuacheng Great Wall, Gubeikou Great Wall, Jiankou Great Wall.