A Bit Of Great Wall History
The Great Wall is one of the largest building projects ever completed in the history of man. It is even visible from space. It is constructed of masonry rocks and packed earth. Every possible material available at the time was used from mud and reeds to the finest mortar bricks ever made. Much of it still remains intact centuries later.
Like a snake like dragon the Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, and mountains. It stretches approximately 6,700 kilometers from east to west of China and crossing five provinces. The history of the Great Wall spans more than 2000 years. Some of the sections are now in ruins or have even entirely disappeared. However, it is still one of the most sought attractions in the entire world due to it’s majestic appearance and historical significance.
The construction of the wall began as early as 770 BC as a defensive fortification by the three states: Yan, Zhao and Qin. It began as independent walls for these different states when it was first built to defend their own territories. It did not become the “Great” wall until the Qin Dynasty.
The reign of the first emperor of China during the Qin Dynasty started to link the wall sections to begin the Great Wall. This was to consolidate the country and ward off invasion by ethnic minority tribes in the north, he had the walls linked and extended, giving rise to the 5,000-kilometer-long Qin Great Wall. The construction continued for centuries and employed the work of millions. The later dynasties of the Han and Ming kept building and improving the wall, extending it more than 1,000 kilometers to today’s scale.
The Badaling section of the wall is located about 70 kilometers northwest from the city center of Beijing. The function of this section in history was to protect the Juyongguan Pass, along with the Guan’guo gorge. The total length of the Badaling section has an average height of 8 meters, the highest part is 15 meters. The top at 6.5 meters wide will permit five horses to be ridden abreast.
About Badaling Great Wall Section
Badaling was the earliest section to be open to tourists among all the parts of the Great Wall. It was authentically restored and in 1957 was open officially to tourists. 130 million tourists from China and abroad have visited this section of the wall. Badaling shows the Great Wall as it would have looked originally. It stretches for 4.8 kilometers along rolling mountains and has 19 strategically located watchtowers.
This section of the wall was made by huge bar stones. Some of the stones are 2 meters high with a weight of 100 kilograms. Inside the wall is made of mud and stone block. The top floor is paved with square bricks which made the floor very orderly and smooth. On the highest place signal fire platforms were set to send warning signals in ancient China. One fire with smoke means the enemy is about 100 men, two fires 500 men, 3 fires more than 1000 men. This way the persons who were warned were able to know the state of the enemy.
As The Bus Got Closer To Badaling The Smog Got Thicker And Thicker
As we set off for the day to see our first section of the Great Wall we were very excited. You can easily get a local bus to get to Badaling. We were soon faced with disappointment as we were driving into thicker and thicker smog. It was blowing in an eastward direction from Beijing and towards the Badaling section of the wall. We could hardly see the mountains on each side of the road.
We arrived at the bus stop and continued to walk up the road to the wall entrance. Surprise, a Great Wall Starbucks! Is there no where this company will not build? Well might as well stop in for a drink first. If you think a Great Wall Starbucks is tacky, you should see the set up they have put on part of the wall. Down below a section of the wall you can take a set of stairs to where you can get a photo taken. They have camels adorned with decorations and medieval costumes you can put on. China seems to cheese up a lot of incredible sites with this sort of thing. There’s also a bob sled/roller coaster ride that goes from a section of the wall to the parking lot.
After our fix of caffeine at Starbucks we went through the entrance and started up with the hoards of people to get on the wall. This is the most touristy and visited section. It is chock full of vendors trying to sell you souvenirs as you make the climb. On a clear day, it does provide beautiful views of the wall meandering through the mountains, but you have to be prepared to rub shoulders with the mobs along the way. We tried to enjoy it the best we could, but the smog was so bad that we could only clearly see about 200 feet of the wall ahead of us at any given time.
Some of the wall parts are really steep, it takes your breath away as you hike up step after step. After walking for about 2 hours we decided to take a break and sit for a while. The smog was about the same, we needed to decide whether to keep going or turn back. We ate some snacks we brought with us and sat for about 45 minutes. To our surprise the smog actually got worse. We couldn’t see anything in front of us. We decided to go back, there was no purpose in continuing onwards. We had a few days left and planned to try out some other sections of the wall, hopefully the views would be better.
We bought some postcards of the Badaling Section that were beautiful and crystal clear. We would like to know what time of year these were taken? Or have they been doctored in photoshop?
Apparently It’s Fashionable To Hike The Wall In High Heels
We had to laugh at women climbing up and down steep sections in their high heels. It seems Chinese women like to be fashionable in all circumstances, even hiking the Great Wall. They were slipping and twisting their ankles as their feet would collapse to one side.