If you have come to teach English in China, put the Great Wall of China on your to-do list.
The Great Wall of China is the world’s longest fortification and it was listed as a world heritage by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the greatest engineering wonders of the world. It is not one wall but a system of many walls built over a period of over 2000 years. The wall stretches to a length of 21, 196 kilometres. But unfortunately, over the years, sections of the Great Wall have disintegrated or collapsed.
Why was the Great Wall Built?
Military defence was the main reason for the building of the Great Wall. The aim was to protect China from her invaders and enemies from the north. Her major enemies were the Mongols who regularly raided the country. The Mongols overpowered and conquered China nonetheless. The wall was also built to prevent Chinese citizens from leaving the country.
When was the Great Wall built?
The Great Wall was not built all at the same time. Its construction began in the 7th and 8th centuries BC when there was a lot of warfare going on between China and her enemies. It was first built by the state Chu during the Qin dynasty. Later, the kingdom of Qin united its different parts to form one empire. The walls were joined up, creating the Great Wall we see today.
Who built the Great Wall?
Millions of Chinese provided the necessary manpower and sourced for resources to build the Great Wall. They included soldiers, peasants, convicts, prisoners and workers. According to Chinese history, three dynasties participated actively in the building of the wall. The Qin Dynasty built a stretch of 5000 kilometres, Han Dynasty constructed 10,000 kilometres while the Ming Dynasty built 6000 kilometres.
Visit the Great Wall
All year round, the Great Wall is open for tourist visits. However, it is best to visit during spring in the months of March to May or autumn in the months of September to October. Many activities can be carried out along the Great Wall. For instance, you can go hiking at night along the Simatai section. Camping and picnic activities are open at Jiankou, Mutianyu and Simatai sections. Book yourself for the Great Wall marathon that is held in May every year. When visiting the Great Wall, ensure to pack clothes, Hiking poles or walking sticks and sunscreen if its summer. Also, remember to stock enough food and drinks for your trip since there are no restaurants along the great wall.
Top places to visit
What to do and see when you visit the great wall of China. Top spots in the area and ticket prices.
Badaling Great Wall
This is the most complete and most popular sections of the Great Wall. It has gentle stairs with handrails, cable cars and pulley system for those unable or unwilling to climb the stairs. Ticket fees to this section go for CNY54 (8.03USD)
Mutianyu Great Wall
This is the best preserved and most restored section.it stretches to a length of 5.4 kilometres. It has 23 watchtowers that give a view of Beijing downtown. Admission fee to this section is CNY40 (5.95USD).
Jinshanling Great Wall
This is considered the most beautiful section of the Great Wall and was built as a stronghold encircling a valley. Visiting this section gives you a scenic view of beautifully designed ancient buildings and temples. The staircase leading to Jinshanling is steep. It has two gates; the North and South gate. Each gate has two watchtowers. Entry tickets to this section go for CNY45 (6.70USD).
Simatai Great Wall
This is a section that is partially restored, it extends for 5.4 kilometres and offers cable car services. It has 34 watchtowers, of which 10 are open to tourists. Simatai is the only section that has night lighting and allows tourists to hike at night. You will pay CNY40 (5.95USD) to access this section.
It is one of the three famous passes along the Great Wall along with Jiayuaguan Pass and Shanhaiguan Pass. Two mountains; Cuiping Mountain and Jingui Mountain surround this pass. These mountains have a wonderful view. The section has two gates on the northern and southern sides with two watch towers on each gate.
Jiankou Great Wall
This section is also known as the Arrow Nock. It is considered the most dangerous and wildest section. This is so because of the steep terrain found here. The stairs leading up to this section are equally steep. It has a unique style of construction, attractive scenery and mountains that are beautiful to the eye. It is free to hike in this section, but locals often charge CNY10 (1.5 USD) as toll fees.
Gubeikou Great Wall
Initially, it was known as Beikou which is loosely translated to ‘northern pass’. It stretches to a length of 40 kilometres and has 172 watchtower, 3 water passes, fortresses and 14 beacon towers. It is divided into Wohusan and Panlongshan sections according to the nature of the towers each section holds. Entry tickets into this section go for CNY25 (3.72USD).
Make a point of visiting and touring the Great Wall of China when you are posted to teach in China, especially in Beijing. Its ancient architectural designs and styles tell of China’s rich history on matters of warfare, military and defence.