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The Great Wall (North China)

Updated: 2012-11-14 19:54

One of the most magnificent ancient military defense works in the world.

The construction of the segments which later made up the Great Wall began during the Spring and Autumn Period and lasted into the Warring States Period (c. 7th century BC-4th century BC). Many feudal states built hundreds of li of wall fortifications as boundaries. These unlinked walls were the embryonic form of the Great Wall. In 221 BC, Emperor Qin Shihuang ordered the walls of the Qin, Zhao and Yan kingdoms in the north to be linked up and reinforced, after he united China. The extended new wall stretched from Lintao (now Lop Nur in Xinjiang) in the west through Fengsui to the western edge of Xinjiang, with a total length of over 20,000 li. The construction work lasted for over 2,000 years, through such dynasties as the Northern Wei, Northern Qi, Eastern Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui, Liao, Kin and Ming.

It was during the Ming Dynasty that the Wall took on its present form. At that time, it stretched some 6,300 km from the Yalujiang River in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west, and is known as the Ten Thousand Li Wall. Rammed earth was later replaced by stone, according to the varying physical features of individual sections. Other materials such as planks were also used. Sometimes mountain ridges were even taken directly as the body of the wall.

The Great Wall, a product of cultural conflict and convergence, and integration of farming and nomadic economies, contributed to promote the economic development of the Central Plains, to unite and stabilize the multi-ethnic nation, and to secure the free flow of transport along the Silk Road. Though the Wall no longer functions as it used to, it is a monument of ancient Chinese culture and constitutes a wonder of the world, together with Pyramids of Egypt, Colosseum Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and so on.

Cultural Heritage

The Great Wall is a miracle in human history. No other ancient building in the world has been constructed for so long a time, on such a grand scale and at so tremendous a cost. Dr. Sun Yat-sen once commented that the Great Wall is the most famous work in China and a unique and truly marvelous sight on earth. Neil Armstrong, the first man who set foot on the moon, reported that, There are only two man-made works that can be identified from space and the moon. One is the Great Wall of China; the other is the dykes of Holland. Former U.S. president Nixon said, after he visited the Wall, that only a great nation could build such a great wall. The Wall well deserves its place on the World Heritage List. The Chinese government has attached great importance to tourism, which is supported by wonderful scenery, rich historic sites, and the various cultures and arts of different ethnic minorities.

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