Location: Beijing, China
Nearest airport: Beijing Internaional Airport, China
Section-wise Travel Info on the Great Wall of China:
Mutianyu Great Wall
- Opening Hours: 07.30 a.m. to 05.20 p.m.
- How to Reach: Take bus no. 916 or tourist bus no. 6 at Xuanwumen Gate
- Time Need for Visit: Usually takes 2 to 2Â½ hours.
Badaling Great Wall:
- How to Reach: Take bus no. 919 or tourist bus no. 1 at Front Gate/bus no. 2 at Beijing Railway Station/bus no. 3 at East Bridge/bus no. 4 at
- Xizhi Gate or Beijing Zoo/bus no. 5 at west taxi station/bus no. 8 at An Dingman or Qianmen station.
- Time Need for Visit: Usually takes 2 to 2Â½ hours.
- Note: Before you go to Badaling Great Wall during the peak season, make sure that you reach Badaling, and not in Shuiguan, as during the peak season, many tourists get deprived by the touts who guide them to Shuiguan, instead of Badaling, for low admission fees.
Simatai Great Wall:
- Opening Hours: 08.00 a.m. to 04.50 p.m.
- How to Reach: Take bus no. bus no. 12 from Xuan Wu Gate.
- Time Need for Visit: Usually takes 2 hours.
The Great Wall of China, one of the seven wonders in the world, bears a true testimony to the strength, skill and resilience of the Chinese people and the greatness of its ancient civilization. The Great Wall of China was built to shield the Chinese Empire from the attacks of Mongolians and other invaders. Though it stretches over 6,700 km in total, the Great Wall of China is not actually a continuous wall; rather it is a collection of short walls, mostly following the crest of hills on the southern border of the Mongolian plain. The stretch of 6,400 km from Shanhaiguan in the eastern part of the country to Lop Nur in the western part was meant to defy any invader including the Mongols who were potential threats to the kingdom and the civilization. Built between 7th BC and 16th century in various phases, many parts of the Great Wall of China have been damaged in the course of time. In the year 1987, this great wall was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Great Wall of China was built in several phases from the 7th century BC to 16th century AD. The Chinese were already well known for their technical skill in wall-building since the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history when the rival states in the country were fighting with each other for territory and power. In order to protect their states and people from the invaders they started building walls. It was only the Qin Dynasty (221 — 206 BC), when the country got unified by king Qinshihuang, that the king of the Chinese state of Qin took the initiative to construct the great wall. Hence, the first set of walls was built of earth and stones in wood frames.
Over the next few years, the designs and constructions of the walls went through some additions and modifications during the dynasties like Han Dynasty etc. The construction of so called ‘modern’ walls started in the Ming Dynasty (1388 — 1644 CE). The Ming Dynasty construction was much stronger than the constructions of Qin Dynasty due to the use of bricks and stones.
Although primarily the purpose of building the Great Wall China was to defy any Mongolian attack, which it served pretty successfully, towards the end of Ming Dynasty, the Great Wall also helped the empire against the Manchu invasions.
Construction of the Great Wall
The construction of the first set of walls, which started during the Qin Dynasty, made use of earth and stones in wood frames. Later, during the Ming Dynasty, the construction of modern walls started with bricks and stones, which in turn, made the walls much stronger than the earlier ones. With a height of up to 25 feet and width of 15 to 30 feet at the base and 9 to 12 feet at the top, there were also a number of guard stations, passes, watch towers, garrison towns, beacon towers, and blockhouses at regular intervals in the Great Wall.
The enormity of the construction can be understood just by the fact that about 1,000,000 soldiers guarded the wall. While lesser officials and soldiers were stationed in the defensive beachhead known as Guan Cheng and other smaller fortifications, the chief officers were stationed in garrison towns. The average height of the wall is 33 feet, whereas the average width is about 5 yards.
With the course of time, the Great Wall of China started decaying. Many parts of it are badly damaged or even completely destroyed these days. The first effort of restoration and rebuilding of this Great Wall started in the 20th century. Later, it was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. Currently this Great Wall of China has become one of the most visited tourist attractions in the whole world. A portion of it lies about 80 km from Beijing that attracts a huge number of tourists from all over the world.
Popular Great Wall Sections
Those who come to visit the Great Wall of China, usually have a few options to choose from. In fact, the Great Wall of China can be categorized in a few sections where tourists from all over the world prefer to visit. You are recommended to visit the popular sections of the Great Wall such as Mutianyu Great Wall, Badaling Great Wall, Simatai Great Wall, Shanhaiguan Great Wall, and Jiayugan Pass.
Besides these, there are also a few more sections that are also popular among tourists. In fact, the sections of the Great Wall of China can be categorized by regions like Jinshanling, Jiankou, Huanghuacheng, Gubeikou, Baimaguan Fort, and Water Pass in Great Wall in Beijing, yumenguan Pass, Yangguan Pass, Overhanging Great Wall in Great Wall in Gansu, Zhenbeitai Tower in Great Wall in Shaanxi, Ningxia Pass in Great Wall in Ningxia, Huangyaguan Pass in Great Wall in Tianjin, Zijinguan Pass, Jiaoshan Great Wall, and Longtaitou/Old Dragon Head Great Wall in Great Wall in Hebei, Hushan/Tiger Mountain Great Wall and Jiumenkou Great Wall in Great Wall in Liaoning, and Yanmenguan Pass, Niangziguan Pass, and Pianyuan Pass in Great Wall in Shanxi.
Mutianyu Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall is located in HuairouCounty, in Beijing. Characterized by many watchtowers on the overlapping mountain ranges, this wall is build with stone slabs, crenellated with bricks on both sides. For better protection, there are horse-trapping snares outside the wall.
Badaling Great Wall
Another popular section of the Great Wall for the tourists — located about 70 kms northwest from the city of Beijing and more than 1000 meters above the sea level. It is eventually the best preserved section of the Beijing Great Wall where around 370 foreign leaders and popular personalities have paid a visit.
Simatai Great Wall
This section of the Great Wall is located at Gubeijou Town in the northeast of MiyunCounty, just 120 km away from Beijing. This section is 5.4 km in length with 35 watchtowers. The reflection of the Great Wall on the blue water of the Simatai Reservoir, which divides it into two parts, is a treat to watch. Often the beauty of Simatai is described by the words like perilous, dense, diverse, ingenuous, and peculiar.
Located in the east of Qinhuangdao City, Shanhaiguan Pass is known as the ‘First Pass Under Heaven’ and a hugely popular destination for the tourists. Shaped like an irregular trapezoid with a gate on each side, Shanhaiguan Great Wall has an average height of 11.6 meters with over 10 meters of width.
Located in the west of Jayuguan City in Gansu Province, Jiayuguan Pass is the best preserved of all the Great Wall passes. A trapezoid shaped pass, it has a three-storied gatetower, 4 corner towers and also has inner & outer city wall, trenches, and fortifications. The Great Wall Tours
There are several tour operators in China that regularly operate various Great Wall tours. If you wish to visit the Great Wall of China, you can choose from several types of tours that have been tailor-made for the tourists from all over the world. Though you can visit the places on your own, you can also go for various Great Wall package Tours. Some of the most popular Great Wall tours are:
Beijing Tour: In this tour, you will be taken to Great Wall at Mutianyu. Besides this, you will also visit a few more places. The duration of the tour could be of 4 days.
Hiking Tour to Jinshanling and Simatai Great Wall: In this tour, you will visit Great Wall Jinshanling, Simatai Great Wall, and Ropeway of Simatai Great Wall. The duration of the tour could be of 2 days.
Great Wall Hiking Tour: This tour is for the travelers who are quite physically fit. Along with many other destinations, this tour will also take you to Simatai Great Wall, Rope bridge of Simatai Great Wall, Great Wall Jinshanling etc. This tour could be of 5 to 6 days.
Different people react to the Great Wall differently. The magnitude and grandeur of the Wall inspire a wide range of emotions, from the poetic to the sheer curiosity of the exotic. Find out some wonderful views of the Great Wall of China from the links that follow. Click on them to read first hand experiences from real travelers to the Great Wall as well.
Related Links :
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=GoQg3a64IfY: This has some wonderful pics of the Great Wall, collated in the form of a great slideshow. Check this out for spectacular views of various sections of the Great Wall.
http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/China/Beijing/Great-Wall-of-China/: For authentic traveler’s accounts from visitors to the Great Wall from various corners of the wall, visit this link.
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/720255/great_wall_a_short_film_about_the_great_wall_of_china/: Wonderful short film, perhaps on the best audio-visual video representations of the wall on the internet. Immerse in a comprehensive Great Wall experience. Just click!
http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/hodge/thebigone_06_07/1179480060/tpod.html: Another collection of great travel blogs related to the Great Wall of China. Learn more about the site and plan accordingly, well ahead of your tour.