Great Wall of China
I have dreamt of visiting the Great Wall of China since my early childhood. I imagined walking and posing with a yellow or red umbrella, dressed in some traditional garment. Due to freezing weather and strong wind, I have yet to take my perfect photo, but I have visited and walked the Wall and made one of my dreams come true!
Welcome to the Great Wall, the world’s most extended human-made structure! It is one of the most impressive feats of human engineering and is considered one of the world’s seven wonders. This architectural marvel is a series of walls, fortifications, and towers stretching across China’s northern borders, from Shanhaiguan in the east to Jiayuguan in the west.
The wall is 2500 years old and built by peasants, convicts, and unemployed intellectuals. The aim was to prevent incursions from barbarian nomads into the Chinese Empire and to protect the Silk Road trade (ancient trade routes linking China and Central Asia). Its construction ended in 1644 AD, with the last of the Ming Dynasty. Some archaeological surveys found that the entire Wall with all of its branches is more than 21,196 km long.
The Great Wall of China was built over thousands of years, starting in the 7th century BC during the Warring States period. It was primarily constructed to protect China from invading armies from the north. Over the centuries, various Chinese emperors rebuilt and extended the wall, resulting in the magnificent structure we see today.
Building the wall cost more than one million people’s lives, which is why it was called “the longest cemetery on earth.” Long before using bricks, the Wall was mainly built from stones, wood, and rammed earth. Bricks were used after the Ming dynasty. Although the Chinese government has taken measures to protect it, nearly 30% of the Ming Great Wall has already been destroyed due to natural erosion and human damage. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, people were encouraged to use bricks and stones to rebuild their houses and roads.
An urban myth (widely accepted fact) is that the Great Wall is visible from the moon, even though it has been proved wrong many times.
In China, The Great Wall has been compared to a dragon, as the dragon is a protective divinity. The Chinese government recognized the Great Wall as a symbol of the nation after president Nixon visited it in 1972. Tourist visits to the Great Wall increased, and many sections were restored shortly after. While the Great Wall symbolizes national pride, China struggles with managing and protecting it while controlling its mass-market development. Although I was told many times that the mortar used to bind the stones was made from human bones or that men are buried within the Wall, the truth is that the cannon was made from rice flour.
Tips for visiting the Great Wall
Visiting the Great Wall of China is an unforgettable experience that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:
- Plan your visit ahead of time: The Great Wall of China is massive, and there are many sections that you can visit. Do some research and choose which section you want to visit, as some sections are more crowded than others.
- Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable shoes and clothing, and bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water. The weather can be hot and humid in the summer and cold in the winter, so dress accordingly.
- Hire a guide: Consider hiring a local guide who can show you around and provide you with interesting facts and stories about the Great Wall. A guide can also help you navigate the crowds and find the best photo spots.
- Avoid the crowds: The Great Wall can get very crowded, especially during peak tourist season. Consider visiting early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.
- Be prepared for a hike: Depending on which section you visit, you may need to hike up steep hills and stairs to reach the wall. Make sure you are in good physical condition and wear comfortable shoes.
- Respect the site: The Great Wall of China is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of Chinese culture and history. Please be respectful of the site and do not litter or damage any part of the wall.
- Try the local cuisine: There are many restaurants and food vendors near the Great Wall where you can try local Chinese cuisine. Don’t be afraid to try new dishes and flavors.
Overall, visiting the Great Wall of China is an incredible experience that you will never forget. By following these tips, you can ensure that your visit is safe, enjoyable, and memorable.
Badaling section of the Great Wall
Badaling is the most complete and best-preserved section of the Great Wall. Built during the Ming Dynasty, Badaling was the first section of the Wall to open to tourists in 1957. and the finished site of a cycling course in the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008.
Although it is often overcrowded (finding an empty spot for taking photos could be difficult), it is popular among tourists and celebrities. It is closest to Beijing (69 km), so it is easy to reach it by public transportation.
How to get to the Badaling section of the Great Wall
Bus 877 Beijing (Deshengmen) to Badaling
Take subway line 2 and get off at Jishuitan subway station (Exit B2). Walk 5-6 minutes (500 m) to Deshengmen and catch bus 877. There is a long line of passengers waiting to board and all the buses are equipped with a card reader, so you can use a transportation card or pay for a ticket.
Bus 877 is a non-stop bus, and a ticket to the Badaling section of the Great Wall costs CNY 12 ($1.9). It takes around an hour to get there. The drop-off site is only 5 min walk from the entrance.
Tourist Bus Line 1 Beijing (Qianmen) to Badaling
This bus operates every 30 minutes. It takes around 1 and 40 minutes to get to the Great Wall and tickets cost CNY 20 ($3.2).
Get to the Great Wall of China from Ming Tombs
Catch bus 879 (Ming Tombs to Badaling Town) and get off at the Great Wall. Distance between these sites is 50-60 minutes, and tickets cost CNY 8 ($1.3).
How to get to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall
Mutianyu section is very well preserved and, compared to Badaling, a much less crowded section of the Great Wall.
From Beijing (Dongzhimen)
From Dongzhimen Bus Station, take bus line 916 Express or 916 to Huairou North Avenue (Huairou Beidajie) Station. The ticket costs CNY 12. It takes 1 hour or 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to the Mutinyu section of the Great Wall.
That is all for now. For more posts on China, click HERE.