What comes to your mind when you think about “the Great Wall of China”?
You probably imagine a wall of an unbelievable size that covers a large area of Chinese land and extends as far as the eye can see. That’s true. Partially.
The thing is that the Chinese Great Wall was built for centuries. It is the fusion of outdated and cutting-edge, ancient and modern, historical and contemporary.
Several dynasties made efforts to create the most majestic construction ever built by humans.
Why did they do this? How does the wall look like? Why is it special? Is it possible to visit the Great Wall of China? Can one see it from the space?
You’ll find the answers to all these questions in our article.
Where is the Great Wall of China located?
The Great Wall is located in Northern China. It stretches from the Jiayu Pass in Gansu province to the Shanhai Pass in Hebei province.
Some sections of the Wall do not stick to the line and remind separate branches on the map. Still, all of them are concentrated in the north of China.
The Great Wall of China map
Here you can see the exact location of the Wall.
What does the Great Wall of China look like?
It depends on the section of the Wall.
If we speak about the most modern parts, they are wide neat brick walls with watchtowers.
They are well-maintained and you can enjoy splendid views and take great photos there.
As for the sections build centuries ago, you might even not guess they belong to the Great Wall.
Some of them remind ruins and some have almost disappeared.
The Great Wall of China History
There is no need to mention that the Great Wall was first built to protect Chinese lands from aggressive nomads who often raided from the north.
But how and when was the Chinese Great Wall built? Let’s look into this topic a bit deeper.
The first mentions of this historic construction can be found in Chinese poems dated 7th century BC, and this is the time when the building of the Wall started.
Actually, the first parts of the wall didn’t make a single construction as one might imagine. They were separate fortifications located in different sites of north China.
Their unification started with the reign of the Qin Dynasty. Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor who ordered to join the existing parts together.
Later, the wall construction was continued by the Han, the Northern Qi, the Jurchen Jin, and the Ming dynasties. The Ming ruling family was the one who managed to build the longest unified part of the Wall.
During their reign, about 6,000 kilometers of the wall was constructed.
It’s worth mentioning that by virtue of different periods of the Wall construction, its parts vary in length, width, strength, and appearance.
For example, the very first sections of the Great Wall of China were made from ground, stones, and other available natural materials.
No wonder, some of them have been completely destroyed so far.
The most modern sections, built during the 14th-17th centuries AC, differ a lot from the very first ones.
They are made from bricks and look solid and majestic.
Moreover, they have been reconstructed so that tourist can see one of the most frequently visited places in the world.
How many miles is the Great Wall of China?
Speaking about all parts of the Great Wall, including the ones that seem as separate constructions of the map, their length is 13,170 miles.
However, there is one more figure you can come across when looking for information about the wall – 5,500 miles.
This is the length of the wall built during the reign of the Ming Dynasty.
Is it possible to walk the Great Wall of China?
As we’ve already mentioned, the entire length of the wall is more than 21,000 kilometers.
If one wanted to try to walk it all, he would have to spend more than three years taking into account the time needed for rest. Thus, walking the wall seems impossible.
However, its length isn’t the only thing that prevents curious hikers from facing this challenge.
The thing is that the Great Wall of China isn’t a solid construction as one might imagine.
The wall consists of different parts built during different time periods and looks like a dotted line with numerous branches.
One more thing that can prevent an adventurer from walking the wall is that 1/3 is destroyed.
It’s quite logical though. It’s impossible that the very first wall parts, which were made of ground and stones, would withstand centuries of natural disasters as well as tourist visits.
Has anyone ever walked the entire Great Wall of China?
A Norwegian, Stephen Robert Loken, walked the length of the Ming Great Wall, which equals approximately 8,851 km, in 2009-2010.
Although it’s a bit less than half of the wall, it’s definitely a great achievement.
Admit, not everyone would dare to spend almost two years conquering one of the longest and most dangerous routes in the world.
How wide is the Great Wall of China?
The width of the wall varies from place to place. Moreover, the width is different at the bottom and at the top of the construction.
While the basement is about 6,5 meters wide to provide solidity, the width at the top is within 4-5 meters range.
How high is the Great Wall of China?
Speaking about the height at which the wall is located, it differs a lot.
The thing is that it was built along with various landscapes, including plains and mountains.
Thus, the lowest part of the wall is the Laolongtou section situated at the sea level.
The highest one is the Huanglouyuan Great Wall located as high as 1,439 meters above the sea level.
As for the height of the wall itself, it measures approximately 6-7 meters. And the highest point of the wall is about 14 meters.
Where does the Great Wall of China start and end?
When it comes to discussing the starting and ending points of the Great Wall of China, one usually talks about the ones of the Ming Dynasty wall.
The thing is that this very part has an integral construction that can be estimated somehow.
There is a tendency to think that it begins at Jiayuguan Pass in Gansu Province.
It is situated at the south-west of China between two mountains and is considered one of the main passes to the Great Wall.
The end of the Wall is Shanhaiguan Pass – the point at which the greatest historic construction meets the Bohai Sea.
What does the Great Wall of China separate?
In modern times, the Great Wall doesn’t have the purpose to separate anything.
However, it was its initial aim when the Chinese emperors first thought about its building.
Serving protective purpose, the Wall separated the Chinese land on its borders from hostile nations.
As invaders’ raids were a frequent occurrence, to put up a wall was a sensible decision at those times.
Northern parts of China suffered from raids the most, thus, the building started in those regions.
How many people visit the Great Wall of China?
It’s no surprise that the Great Wall is one of the most attended sights in the world. Annually, about 10 million people come to China to visit this tourist attraction.
The Wall was also visited by hundreds of government officials from all over the world. Modern records say about 300 politicians and other VIP people were shown the Great Wall.
How to get to the Great Wall of China?
The Great Wall of China is best accessible from Beijing since several newest and restored sections are located around the city.
Plus, a good transport system allows you to get to the Wall in several ways.
It’s also possible to visit the Wall from other Chinese cities.
Read the information below to choose the most convenient route for you.
How to get to the Great Wall of China from Beijing
Once you’re in Beijing, you want to use a chance to visit the Great Wall of China.
The thing is that the city is surrounded by several sections of the wall so every tourist will find the one to his/her taste.
Badaling, Mutianyu, and Juyongguan are best preserved, thus, are most frequently visited sections.
If you prefer a leisure walk, you might be interested in Simatai, Jinshanling, and Shuiguan Passes.
They are not so preserved as the sections described above, but they don’t have crowds of visitors. Thus, you can enjoy great views more comfortably.
If you’re an adventurous tourist, wild sections of the Great Wall of China, such as Jiankou and Gubeikou, are just what you need.
Keep in mind, you should be fit enough to hike these parts of the wall.
Depending on the section you want to visit, a one-way trip to your destination will take you from 1,5 to 2,5 hours.
There’re also various ways you can use to get to the Wall – by public transport, taxi, or your own vehicle.
Although using your car is expensive, it is the fastest and most convenient way to reach the wall.
But if you don’t have a chance to drive a car on your own, public transport is at your service.
You can take either a bus or a train to get to the most famous Great Wall of China sections.
Thus, to get to Badaling from Beijing, you can take bus 877, tourist bus line 1, or train S2.
To visit Mutianyu Pass, you should get to the Dongzhimen bus station first.
There, you need to take bus 916 express and then change to bus line h23, h24, h35, or h36.
If you don’t feel like visiting the Wall alone, it’s possible to take one of the Great Wall of China tours.
How to get to the Great Wall of China from Shanghai
Actually, the closest city from which it is convenient to get to the Great Wall of China is Beijing.
That’s why if you are in Shanghai and want to visit the Wall, you’ll have to come to Beijing first.
To do this, you can use either a plane or a bullet train.
How to get to the Great Wall of China from Shenzhen
Shenzhen is far away from the Great Wall, so the first thing you want to do to get to the wall is to come to Beijing.
You can do it by plane, train, or bus.
Other cities near the Great Wall of China
Since the length of the unified Great Wall is 5,500 miles, it has a lot of cities nearby.
Going through nine Chinese provinces – Beijing, Gansu, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Tianjin – it can be approached from different points in China.
Thus, you can get to the wall from Yi County Town (Hebei), Huangyaguan Village (Tianjin), Qinhuangdao (Liaoning), Yulin City (Shaanxi), Jiayuguan City (Gansu), and other cities.
However, some parts of the wall are remoted so that it’s difficult to get there on your own.
If you live in such a place, it’s better to address tourist organizations that can offer you tours to meet your requirements.
Tours to the Great Wall of China
As you might have already understood, the Great Wall of China tours are organized from Beijing since this is the closest city to the Wall.
Plus, one can find different sections of the Wall in close proximity to the capital. It’s possible to visit both the old and new parts of the construction.
Beijing tours to the Great Wall of China
When you’re in the Chinese capital, you can come across offers of Beijing Great Wall tours nearly on every corner.
Moreover, there are plenty of offers on the Internet.
Let’s have a look at the most popular ones.
This tour is just what you need if you want to see two famous tourist attractions in one go. Spend only one day to dive into the atmosphere of Chinese history.
Duration: one day (8 hours)
Cost: from 73$ (506,16 RMB)
What’s included: transfer services from/to your hotel, lunch, English-speaking guide
The tour offers you a walk and an excursion in one of the well-preserved wall sections. As it isn’t usually flocked with tourists, you’ll have a great opportunity to take photos and enjoy the views.
Duration: one day (7 hours)
Cost: from 65$ (450,69 RMB)
What’s included: hotel pick-up and drop-off, excursion in English, lunch.
This trip is what you need if you want to discover less crowded but still worthy wall sections. Three-day journey gives you the time to enjoy the sights to the fullest.
Duration: 3 days
Cost: from 366.25 $ (2539,47 RMB)
What’s included: visiting three sections of the Wall – Gubeikou, Jinshanling and Simatai, transfer service, English-speaking guide, meals, accommodation, and entrance fees.
This is only a small part of the Great Wall of China tours from Beijing. You can find much more options on the Internet. Feel free to surf the net to find the tours you like the most.
What time does the Great Wall close?
As there are different Great Wall sections opened for visitors, their working hours might differ.
For example, Badaling Great Wall closes at 7 p.m. in spring and summer and at 6 p.m. in autumn and winter.
The Mutianyu Great wall closes at 5 p.m. on weekdays and at 6 p.m. on weekends.
That’s why it’s better to specify working hours before you go on an excursion.
One more thing you should also keep in mind is the public transport schedule.
The wall can close at 6 p.m., but the last bus from a wall section might leave at 4 p.m.
Make sure you’re not late for last buses if you use public transport.
What is the best time of the year to visit the Great Wall of China?
It is recommended to visit the Great Wall in spring and autumn. There are several reasons for choosing these very seasons:
- The weather is nice. It’s not hot or cold – the temperatures are comfortable to spend several hours or a day walking outside.
- The nature during this time is magnificent.
- There are fewer tourists in spring and autumn than in summer, for example. So, you have more chances to visit uncrowded wall sections.
You definitely don’t want to visit the Wall during Chinese national holidays like Chinese New Year or Chinese National Day since the flow of tourists is unbelievably high at this time.
Interesting facts about the Great Wall of China
- The Great Wall can’t be seen from space.
In spite of a common misconception, it’s impossible to see the Wall from the space. Although it is one of the largest man-made constructions existing on the Earth, it’s too small to be noticed outside the planet.
- Many Great Wall sections don’t have names.
It might seem strange as we’re used to mention the majority of them by names – Badaling, Simatai, Gubeikou, Shanhai Pass, etc.
However, the truth is that there are lots of so ancient sections that they can hardly be recognized as parts of the Great Wall of China.
- Initially built to protect China from invaders, the Wall failed to perform this function. It didn’t withstand Genghis Khan’s raid in the 13th and it didn’t protect the Ming dynasty from the Manchu’s aggression.
Despite all controversies and false facts, The Great Wall is one of the seven wonders of the world and it is definitely worth visiting.