The history of the Great Wall of China is fascinating, and learning about it will help visitors to this amazing destination appreciate what exactly they are viewing, who built it, and why. Many travelers don’t take the time to learn about Great Wall history, even on an introductory basis, and they are missing out on an essential part of the experience. Without knowing the stories of the people, wars, rulers, times of peace, and more that contributed to the development of the wall over centuries and dynasties, the wall doesn’t hold as much significance. If you’re planning a visit to China, take a few minutes to learn about the history before visiting this famous site.
The history of the Great Wall of China begins when the first sections were built by the first Emperor of China beginning in 220 BC, even though other walls were built as early as the seventh century BC. This fact alone provides incredible context to Great Wall history. Many visitors don’t know that the wall was built, maintained, and rebuilt from this time stretching all the way through the sixteenth century AD. The entire network of walls comprise the longest man-made structure on the planet, reaching approximately 13,171 miles in total. During the Ming Dynasty and beyond, it was an incredible commitment to maintain the wall, and it is the Ming Dynasty portions that are the best preserved, most accessible, and most visited by tourists.
Numbers make up many of the most interesting facts about the history of the Great Wall of China. For example, during the Ming Dynasty, more than one million men guarded the wall. Building the wall alone was such a struggle, that it estimated two to three million Chinese died building the wall over the centuries. This fact alone suggests that the wall must have had a very strategic purpose: defense. For hundreds of years, the walls served as defense between warring states. While some areas of the wall have very little remains, luckily there are still impressive areas that are open to tourists.
The parts of the wall that can be seen today were built during the Ming Dynasty. This portion of the wall was built on a larger scale and with better materials. Solid stone was used for the top and sides of the wall, and this fact has resulted in its preservation over time. The wall was successful at keeping enemies out, but also was a measure of defense against semi-nomadic people who were known as thieves. These interesting Great Wall facts and many more will be discovered if you choose to visit and take a Great Wall of China tour from a knowledgeable guide.
Questions your tour guide can answer will extend far beyond the common question: How long did it take to build the Great Wall of China? This is actually a more complicated question then it seems. Great Wall history has many periods and different areas of the wall were built during different time periods, and then were joined over centuries. Simply securing all the materials to build the wall must have been a severe challenge, never mind actually building and maintaining the structure. The Great Wall of China represents centuries of history, and is deservedly a top attraction for any traveler visiting the country for the first time.