The Architecture and History of the Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China – the world’s longest wall and largest ancient architecture. You’ve probably seen or heard about it – who doesn’t, anyway? It is China’s most iconic and famous landmark; an age-old defensive structure that represents four dynasties and crosses nine provinces and municipalities.
Contrary to what people think or imagine, the Great Wall of China is not a continuous line. This more than 2,300 years old UNESCO World Heritage Site features side, parallel and circular walls, as well as sections without walls. Trekking along its winding path provides striking sceneries of rugged country, lush foliage and steep mountains.
With a length of 21,196.18km (13,170.7 mi), the Great Wall has several sections, each posing a unique character; most of it already restored and equipped with sound tourism facilities. Badaling is the most popular and crowded section, though it also is the most complete and best-preserved part of the wall. Mutianyu, known as the “Grand Pass on the Precipitous Ridge”, is also one of the best-known sections with watchtowers tensely distributed along the path. Juyongguan is an impregnable pass built in accordance with the difficult terrain.
Other popular sections but with fewer tourists are Simatai (offers an original appearance of the Great Wall), Jinshanling (tagged as the “Paradise of Photographers”), and Shuiguan (steep section ideal for hiking lovers). The Great Wall also has wild sections that were not reconstructed, thus retain their original appearances.
Though damaged and dilapidated, these sections reveal the wall’s change in history. Among the wild sections, Jiankou is the most dangerous while Huanghuacheng is partially submerged underwater. Gubeikou stand witness to many battles throughout Chinese history due to its strategic location.
Among the Great Wall sections, we find Mutianyu the most favorable in terms of accessibility to Beijing. Not to mention the lesser crowd and the surrounding natural scenery. To get there, take the bus line 916 Express or 916 at Dongzhimen bus station to Huairou North Avenue. Travel time takes about 60-70 minutes. Transfer to bus line h23, h24, h35 or h36 to Mutianyu Roundabout. From there, you can either walk about 500 yards to the ticket office or take a minivan to the scenic area.
Having walked along the paved and uneven pathways of the Great Wall gave a glimpse of China’s magnificent architecture, creativity and history all in one. It’s one thing to see the structure’s grandeur in websites and glossy pages; it’s a totally different story to be actually there and get immersed in the mightiness and magnificence that is the Great Wall.