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Generally understood to the Chinese as the “Long Wall of Ten Thousand Li”, the stretch of powerful protective structures built to ward off invasion of the Celestial Empire by barbarians is frequently called the “Great Wall” or the “Wall of China” by Europeans.
History of the Great Wall of China
The history of these amazing fortifications returns to the Chunqiu period (722-481 B.C.) and to the Warring States duration (453-221 B.C.), so-called due to the fact that of the long battle amongst 7 rival dynasties for supreme power.
The building of certain walls can be explained by these feudal conflicts, such as the one built by the Wei in 408 B.C. to protect their kingdom versus the Qin. Its vestiges, saved in the center of China, precede by numerous years the walls that the Kingdoms of Qin, Zhao and Yan set up against the northern barbarians around 300 B.C. Start in 220 B.C., Qin Shi Huang, the creator of the Empire of the Ten Thousand Generations, undertook to bring back and connect the different areas of the Great Wall which had been integrated in the 3rd century B.
C., or possibly even previously, and which extended from the region of the Ordos to Manchuria.
Towards the west, he had the fortifications extended in the valley of the Huanghe all the way to Lanzhou. Hence was the very first cohesive defense system of which significant vestiges still remain, finished, quickly before the accession of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.). During their reign the Great Wall was extended even further, and under the emperor Wudi (140-87 B.
C.) it spanned roughly 3700 miles (6,000 kilometers) in between Dunhuang in the west to Bohai Sea in the east. The threat of attack along northern Chinese border by the federated tribes of Mongols, Turks and Tunguz of the Empire of the Xiongnu, the first empire of the steppes, made a defense policy more necessary than ever. Rotating military actions with extensive diplomatic efforts, this policy required enormous relocation of Chinese peoples within the frontier zone. In 102 B.C., there were 180,000 peasant soldiers in the “command posts” of Gansu. After the failure of the Han dynasty (220 A.D.), the Great Wall entered its medieval stage. Building and upkeep work were stopped, just periodically being recommenced.
Under the Northern Wei, for example, a 600 mile (1,000-kilometer) section of wall was built in 423; this was added to in the 6th century, but work was suspended during the Tang period (618-907). China at that time enjoyed such great military power that the need for a defense policy was no longer felt. It was the Ming emperors (1368-1644) who, after the long period of conflict which ended with the expulsion of the Mongols, revived the tradition begun by Qin Shi Huang. During the Ming dynasty, 3500 miles (5,650 kilometers) of crenelated wall were built. The stones used were incredibly well matched, and the wall was fortified by 25,000 towers and protected by 15,000 outposts. To defend the northern frontier, the Wall was divided into nine Zhen, which were military districts rather than simple garrisons.
At strategic points , fortresses were built to defend the towns (e.g. Jinshanling for Peking), passes or fords. The passageways running along the top of the wall made it possible to move troops rapidly and, in peace time, for imperial couriers to travel. Two symbolic monuments still proudly stand at either end of the wall. These are the “First Door under Heaven” at Shanhaiguan, located at the wall’s eastern end, and the “Last Door under Heaven” at Jiayuguan, which, as part of the fortress entirely restored after 1949, marks its northwestern end.
The Great Wall at Mutainyu is located in the Huairou District of Beijing. According to historical literature, this setion of the Great Wall was built under the supervision of General Xu Da of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang in the early Ming Dynasty. Mutianyu is a favorite tourist spot given its close proximity to Beijing. You can take a chairlift up to the Great Wall then when you are finished sightseeing you can take the slide back down.
Great Wall at Badaling
The Great Wall at Badaling can be very crowded, as seen in the above pictures, given it’s proximity to Beijing. At Badaling the Great Wall is more than 23 feet ( 7 meters ) high and 16 feet ( 5 meters ) wide. Badaling was the advanced point of Juyongguan Pass in historical times with many fortresses and beacon towers built at strategic points.
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