Monday, December 15, 2008

travel to Beijing: The Great Wall

“He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man”, it’s a popular saying in China. The Great Wall, one of the greatest wonders of the world, is meaningful to Chinese people. A visit to the Great Wall is like a tour through the history backwards, it brings strong patriotic feeling and proud of the country in each step of the wall.

The Great Wall is made of a series of stone. Just like a gigantic dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus, stretching approximately 6,700 kilometers (4,163 miles ) from east to west of China. Though some of the sections are now in ruins or even entirely disappeared, it is still one of the most appealing attractions all around the world owing to its architectural grandeur and historical significance, enlisted in the World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987.

The history of The Great Wall

With a history of more than 2000 years, the Great Wall was used as a defensive fortification in most of time. But it was in fact independent walls for different states when it was first built, and did not become the "Great" wall until the Qin Dynasty.

The Great Wall was originally built in the Spring and Autumn Period (around the 7th century BC) and Warring States Periods (from the 5th century BC to 221 BC) by the three states: Yan, Zhao and Qin, to defend their own borders, through which period the Chinese were already familiar with the techniques of wall-building. Then the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang made the unification of China. During the reign, Qin Shi Huang succeeded in his effort to have the walls joined together and to fend off the invasions from the Huns in the north. Since then, the Great Wall has served as a monument of the Chinese nation throughout history.

Later, some dynasties repaired, rebuilt, or expanded sections of the Great Wall at great cost. The most important construction took place in Ming Dynasty, which was stronger and more elaborate due to the use of bricks and stone instead of rammed earth.

Now most of the ancient walls have eroded away over the centuries, and very few sections remain today. The Great Wall as we see today was mostly built during the Ming Dynasty. It starts from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west traversing provinces of Liaoning, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Gansu.

The construction of The Great Wall

The construction of the wall was considered to be huge and tough project even in today’s tools and techniques, let alone ancient times. Can you image how they transport the large quantity of materials and stones, some were over thousand kg weight; and how they cut the stones to almost the same shape. It’s said that builders always tried to use local resources. Stones from the mountains were used over mountain ranges, while rammed earth was used for construction in the plains. A great army of manpower, composed of soldiers, prisoners, and local people, built the wall. The construction result demonstrates the manifestation of the wisdom and tenacity of the Chinese people.

However, the construction of The Great Wall was a suffering to the people at that time. A lot of people died. There are some beautiful but sad legends, the most famous one is about the collapse of a section of the Great Wall caused by Meng Jiangnu, who cried bitterly over the death of her husband in the construction of the Great Wall. This legend has been spread widely through textbooks, folk songs and traditional operas.

The following three sections are in Beijing, which were renovated and which are regularly visited by modern tourists today. "North Pass" of Juyongguan pass, known as the Badaling; "West Pass" of Jiayuguan_(pass), near the western edges of the Great Wall; "Pass" of Shanhaiguan, near the eastern edges of the Great Wall.

Make a trip to at least one section of the Great Wall should be a must for your China Trip. Elaborate tour plans make travel comfortable, memorable, enjoyable and informative.

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