Centuries after its creation, the Great Wall of China has remained one of the greatest wonders of human architecture and engineering, while still carrying the rich history of the Orient long before globalization. As the great poet Chairman Mao once said, “Until you reach the Great Wall, you’re no hero”; and anyone who has walked a mile on the wall will it not be surprised why.
Snaking its way over mountains, down valleys and across plains, the Great Wall of China stretches from the Yellow Sea to the edge of the Gobi Desert and offered China’s northern frontier protection from the fierce Barbarian warriors for years. Given the significance of this wall to human history, everyone should ensure they get a chance of walking the Great Wall of China, even for a few miles. Here are a few tidbits that are sure to catch your eye and captivate your soul.The World’s Longest Defense Fortification.
The Great Wall of China qualifies as a pioneer of military defense and expertise. Although it did not completely prevent the invading armies from entering China, it served other important military functions, especially communication. While walking the Great Wall of China, you will notice numerous watchtowers strategically placed along its length. These were not only used to identify enemy armies from a distance but also for communication among the Chinese soldiers through smoke signals, lanterns, and beacon fires. Sections of the wall built during the Ming Dynasty remain to this day and are the most visited.A Library of Ancient Culture.
Apart from its military functions, the Great Wall of China also holds Chinese culture within its resilient bricks. For instance, the wall itself clearly sends the message that the Chinese will go to great extents to protect what is theirs. More specifically, the original wall is said to have been built by a whopping 1 million laborers over a ten-year period, many of whom died during the construction and were buried within the wall. The wall is also a symbol of unification and attraction as much as it represents separation of the Chinese from the rest of world.
Additionally, the wall tells stories of love and affection such as the Xifengkou Legend of a Happy Meeting between father and son, and the Weeping of Meng Jiang Nu over her husband. Walking the Great Wall of China not only gives you the opportunity to share the military heroism of the ancient Chinese, but also their unconditional love and loyalty.Where to Visit.
Contrary to common belief, the Great Wall of China is not a single continuous wall but a complex of smaller sections of walls built during different times. Each of these sections has its unique features, which may appeal to you on a personal level. However, some of the most popular sections of the Great Wall include Mutianyu, the most magnificent and fully-restored section of the wall, Jinshanling which is the most common hiking route with much of the original architecture still intact, and Jiankou, the section that you see in many pictures and postcards, steep and breathtaking. Great people, including Barack Obama and David Cameron, have visited the wall. You should too, and experience the unique feeling that comes from walking the Great Wall of China.