The Great Wall stretches from the Shanhaiguan district in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia.
Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC; these, later joined together and made bigger, stronger, and unified are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall. Especially famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced; the majority of the existing wall was reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty.
The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, rammed earth, wood, and other materials. It was generally built to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike people or forces.
While some portions north of Beijing and near tourist centres have been preserved and even extensively renovated, in many locations the Wall is in disrepair. More than 60 km (37 mi) of the wall in Gansu province may disappear in the next 20 years, due to erosion from sandstorms.
Depending on the nature of the visitor’s physical fitness the choice of the section of the wall to be visited can be made:
- “North Pass” of Juyongguan pass, is known as the Badaling, used by the Chinese to protect China’s capital Beijing. Made of stone and bricks from the hills, this portion of the Great Wall is 7.8 meters (26 ft.) high and 5 meters (16 ft.) wide.
- “West Pass” of Jiayuguan (pass), is the fort 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 the one which climbs extremely steep slopes. It runs 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) long, ranging from 5 to 8 meters (16–26 ft.) in height, and 6 meters (20 ft) across the bottom, narrowing up to 5 meters (16 ft.) across the top. Wangjinglou is one of Jinshanling’s 67 watchtowers, 980 meters (3,220 ft.) above sea level.
- South East of Jinshanling is the Mutianyu Great Wall which is approximately 2.25 kilometres (about 1.3 miles) and connected with Juyongguan Pass to the west and Gubeikou to the east.
- 25 km (16 mi) west of the Liao Tian Ling stands a part of the Great Wall which is only 2~3 stories high.
- 15 km northeast from Shanhaiguan, is the Jiumenkou, which is the only portion of the wall that was built as a bridge.
The biting cold during November to April keeps the visitors count to almost nil. Other parts of the year are favourable, although summers can be extremely hot. It is advisable to carry an umbrella to protect from the sun or rain as the case may be. Be careful not to use any electronic device if caught up there in the rain to avoid lightning strikes.
This is a true world heritage site and a man-made marvel.