Spotlight on – The Great Wall of China


             Great Wall of China

1. The Great Wall of China (Changcheng) is one of the world’s most enduring testaments to man’s presence on the planet, Earth, and it is also a brooding testament to man’s penchant for violence and aggression, since the wall was built to frustrate and resist incursions from beyond China’s borders. The wall extends some 6400 kilometers (almost 4000 miles) across northern China to the sea.

The most accessible and most popular part of the wall, the section at Badaling, is only about 70 km (43 miles) northwest of Beijing. Because of its proximity to the Ming Tombs, it is frequented by numerous tour groups and busloads of visitors. Because of this, some may want to consider visiting other sections of the wall, if only to avoid the hordes. Probably the best alternative is the Mutianyu section, about 90 km (56 miles) northeast of Beijing. Here, access to the wall is via a strenuous one-hour climb, but there is also a cable car. Another alternative is the section at Jinshanling, about 130 km (80 miles) northeast of Beijing, where the wall is younger (about 1600 A.D.) and features circular towers and a more elaborate structure.

The wall is a model of engineering as it winds its way across the hilly, forbidding landscape. It is over 8 meters (25 feet) high and over 7 meters (20 feet) wide in sections. Some of the wall is not restored, but hikers can still traverse long sections.

The history of this mega-structure dates back to the 6th century BC. Sections were built, rebuilt and restored up to the present day. The most famous builder of the wall was the Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who ruled and unified China around 220 BC. However, much of the current wall was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 -1644 AD).

One of the things that amazed me when our tour group visited in May was how steep and difficult it was to walk. I walked approximately one (1) mile of the Wall, then a mile back and I thought it was one of the most strenuous activities I have ever done. Granted, I am in my sixties, but even the younger people in the group remarked about its difficulty.

Check out the photo album of my visit to the Wall tomorrow.



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