Top Facts About The Great Wall of China

One of the most recognizable symbols of China, the Great Wall of China has a long and complicated history. It is not just one wall, but many different walls and fortifications that were built over the course of thousands of years. The walls built at different times were often built with different materials, everything from packed dirt or wood to stone and brick. These walls were meant to protect China from invasion. The earliest walls were built more than two thousand years ago when individual states built walls of packed earth and gravel between boards to protect their territories from attackers with swords and spears.

Hundreds of years later in 221 BC the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, ordered that walls that divided his empire should be destroyed and a new wall connecting the remaining pieces should be built, creating fortifications that protected the empire from northern attackers. No one knows exactly how long that wall was or where it was built, as most of it has worn down or been destroyed. Over the next thousand years, different ruling dynasties repaired, rebuilt, or expanded sections of the wall. The leaders of the Ming dynasty, which began in 1368, constructed the most famous version of the Great Wall. They began by building streamtowers and garrisons, later adding walls of stone and earth. New construction on the wall ended in 1644. At its height the Great Wall stretched more than 13,000 miles or about 22,000 kilometres in total length, making it the longest structure ever built by humans. In some places, the walls were 30 feet or 9 meters thick, and 25 feet or 7.5 meters tall, and it was studded with as many as 25,000 streamtowers. You may have heard that the Great Wall is so big that it can be seen from space, but that is only partially true. It cannot be seen at all from the moon, but from a much closer orbit, it could be seen by someone who knew exactly where to look and what it would look like. Today the Great Wall of China is a World Heritage site, protected and maintained for all of humanity to enjoy. Only some pieces of the wall are taken care of, however, as it is simply too big and too damaged by time and old battles to repair and take care of it all. In fact, nearly 1/3 of the wall has completely disappeared, fallen down and even the stones taken away by local people to use in the building. Still, the Great Wall is the most popular place for tourists to visit in China, attracting millions of people each year. I hope you enjoyed learning about the Great Wall of China today.