Is the Great Wall of China is a single and continuous wall? What is the total length of the wall? How long did it take to build the wall? There are many such questions that intrigue us…Driven by our hunger for knowledge; we decided to create this post on Great Wall of China facts.
This great wonder which is a symbol of China’s vivid and long history represents an incredible feat of human achievements. So, let us embark on this interesting journey together. Are you in?
Great Wall of China Facts: 1-5
1. The Great Wall of China is one of the 7 Wonders of the Medieval World and not of the ancient world despite the fact that it was built during the ancient times.
2. There is a myth that the Great Wall of China is a continuous and single wall that was built all at once. The truth is that the wall is actually made of wall segments that form a discontinuous network.
3. The wall was not built by any single dynasty. It was rather a cumulative work of several dynasties. The wall was meant for defending the northern boundary of China from outside invaders.
4. The wall is the longest man-made structure in this entire world with multiple fortifications and walls that run parallel to each other.
5. The wall is one of the most expensive construction projects to have been ever completed. The wall was originally conceived in the 3rd century B.C.E. by Emperor Qin Shi Huang (circa 259-210 B.C.E.).
Great Wall of China Facts: 6-10
6. Very little of the earliest of the walls built by the Qin (pronounced as ‘chin’) dynasty remain today.
7. The wall, during its construction years, was also known as ‘the longest cemetery on earth’. Nearly a million men died during the construction of this wall.
8. The primary wall is 2,145 miles or 3,460 kilometers long. The spurs and branches add another extra 1,770 miles or 2,860 kilometers.
9. The total length of all defensive walls (including the Great Wall of China) built by the Chinese during the last 2,000 years is 31,070 miles or 50,000 kilometers approximately. Just for the sake of comparison, Earth’s circumference is only 24,854 miles or 40,000 kilometers.
10. After Qin dynasty, the construction of the wall was taken seriously by Han dynasty (circa 206 B.C.E. to 220 C.E.), the Sui dynasty (581-618 C.E.), the Jin dynasty (1115-1234 C.E.) and finally the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 C.E.).
Great Wall of China Facts: 11-15
11. The Ming dynasty added to the Great Wall of China by building walls of bricks and stones. The most well-preserved portions of the wall were constructed by the Ming dynasty.
12. It is being commonly said that in order to make the Great Wall strong, mortar made of human bones was used. The other widespread notion was that humans were buried directly in the wall to make it strong. These notions are completely wrong; only mortar made of rice flour was found.
13. Yet another myth surrounding the Great Wall of China is that it can be seen directly from the moon with naked eyes. This myth started back in 1893, and the credit for circulating the myth goes to ‘The Century’ – an American magazine.
14. After the initial wave of the myth, it went off focus for some time, but again in 1932 Robert Ripley (the man behind Ripley’s Believe it or Not) openly claimed that the Great Wall of China can be seen with naked eyes from the moon. Interestingly enough, man was yet to go to space, and hence, Ripley’s claim became questionable.
15. There are quite a few interesting legends associated with the Great Wall of China. One such legend is that the entire route for the Great Wall was traced by a dragon and then the workers followed the track to build the wall.
Great Wall of China Facts: 16-20
16. Yet another legend is that a farmer’s wife known as Meng Jiang Nu used to work in the construction process. Even her husband used to work as a construction worker, but died working there. When she learned about his death she cried so hard and long that the entire wall collapsed to reveal the body of her dead husband which was then buried properly by Meng Jiang Nu.
17. The Great Wall was never continuous. It is because of this; Mongol Invaders under Genghis Khan went around the wall and eventually conquered most of northern China between 1211 CE and 1223 CE. The Mongols eventually ruled China till 1368 CE, but were eventually defeated and driven out of China by the Ming dynasty.
18. It is being said that the Ming dynasty allocated 1 million soldiers for protecting the Great Wall from non-Chinese invaders as well as the barbarians.
19. Prior to the Ming dynasty, the Great Wall was built using stone, adobe and rammed earth. Nearly 70% of the wall is made of those materials. It was only during and after the Ming dynasty that bricks were used.
20. The wheelbarrow was invented by the Chinese people and it was extensively used by them for the construction of the Great Wall.
Great Wall of China Facts: 21-25
21. The people or the laborers who worked in the construction of the Great Wall were peasants, disgraced noblemen, frontier guards, convicts and unemployed intellectuals.
22. The Han and Qin dynasties came up with a special penalty in which those who were convicted of some crime were made to work in the construction of the Great Wall.
23. Chinese often compare the Great Wall with a dragon. A dragon in the Chinese culture is symbolic of vital energy, springtime and protective divinity. Chinese people believe that there was a time when Earth was roamed by dragons and that the dragons actually formed the sinew of land and gave shape to the mountains.
24. The western section of the Great Wall has a chain of watchtowers that offer defense to Silk Road travelers.
25. Watchtowers can be found at a regular interval of the Great Wall. These watchtowers can be as high as 40 feet and serve as fortresses and lookouts. Stockpiled supplies and garrisons were often housed in those watchtowers.
Great Wall of China Facts: 26-30
26. The watchtowers of the Great Wall are pretty diverse in the architectural style. This is because they were built during different dynasties.
27. Defensive moats can be found surrounding different parts of the Great Wall. These moats are either left as ditches, or they are water-filled.
28. The Great Wall was defended using several weapons that were pretty sophisticated for their times. Some of the weapons used by the Chinese soldiers included halberds, crossbows, sledge hammers and lances. Chinese also made use of gunpowder for defending the Great Wall, and gunpowder was actually a Chinese invention.
29. The watchtowers of the Great Wall were often used as signal stations. Flags, smoke and beacons were the usual modes of exchanging messages.
30. At certain places the Great Wall is 15-30 feet wide and 25 feet high.
Great Wall of China Facts: 31-35
31. At Heita Mountain in Beijing, the Great Wall reaches its highest point at 5,033 feet or 1,534 meters.
32. The lowest point of the wall is at sea level and is located at Laolongtou.
33. The Sino-Japanese war in 1938 saw the last battle being fought at the Great Wall of China. Several bullet marks on the wall are the testament of the battle. It was a bloody battle between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China.
34. Numerous temples of God Guandi were built along the wall by the Chinese people. Guandi is their god of war.
35. Certain portions of the wall in the Ningxia and Gansu provinces (northwestern sections of the wall) are subject to immense natural erosion and may be lost within 20 years.
Great Wall of China Facts: 36-40
36. Between 1966 and 1978 (years of Cultural Revolution in China), the Chinese people started looking at the wall as a sign of despotism. It was then that the leaders started encouraging people to take away bricks from the wall for using in their homes and farms.
37. The Great Wall became China’s common emblem between the 18th and 20th centuries. The wall became symbolic to the physical and psychological barrier maintained by China in order to exert control over its own citizens and to ward off any foreign influence.
38. The Great Wall was declared a Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987 and today, the wall is considered as one of the greatest architectural feats ever achieved by mankind.
39. The most well-preserved and well-known section of the wall is Badaling. It is located 70 kilometers to the northwest of Beijing. This section of the wall was rebuilt in 1950.
40. Millions of people from around the world visit the Great Wall every year. The year 2004 holds the record for hosting the highest numbers of visitors from foreign countries. 41.8 million foreigners visited the wall that year.