The Great Wall of China is the collective name of one of China’s longest and most well known fortification systems, it however isn’t one long wall but multiple borders between various nomadic states and parts of China. The oldest dating back to the 7th century BC. Some were connected later on by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang in 220-206 BC. It wasn’t all meant as a defense, it also housed border control, the regulation and encouragement of trading along the Silk Road and the regulation and control of immigration and emigration. The defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means of smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor along the 21.196 km it provided.
Some parts near Beijing and tourist centers have in these years still been preserved and extensively renovated, many other locations are worse for wear. At some point the stones of various walls were used to build buildings and roads or destroyed to make way for other construction or mining, others have been vandalized and inscribed stones had been stolen and sold on the markets. 22% of the wall has disappeared up until 2012 and in the coming 20 years after this more than 60 km will disappear in the Gansu province due to erosion by sandstorms.
Various square look out towers that characterize the most famous images of the wall have disappeared. Many western sections of the wall are constructed from mud, rather than brick and stone because of this are more susceptible to erosion. In 2014 a portion of the wall near the border of Liaoning and Hebei province was repaired with concrete. The work has been much criticized.
When I was living in Shanghai, China it was obligatory that I traveled down to Beijing to do some sightseeing there, As I was in a hostel called Happy Dragon Hostel in the center of Beijing. There were a couple of hostel travel groups I could join for not too much money through them. As I was only there for a couple of days I asked them what would be the best one and where to go when I wanted to see the Chinese Great Wall. I was told that if I wanted a little bit more time to visit without having too many people around I should go to Mutianyu Great Wall. This part of the wall is one of the best preserved sections but also not too crazy busy (at least back in 2012). It’s located 65 km away from Beijing and you can reach it with public transportation (bus # 916 Express with a transfer in Huairou District).
credit to https://www.milosh9k.com/
The Mutianyu Great Wall measures 5400 meter and is rebuild in the Ming Dynasty to strengthen it’s defense using granite slabs. Between 22 watch toweres there are two parts, one side you can walk and look out over the beauty that is Chinese nature and take some nice pictures but the older part features a rise up the mountain where you WILL have to use both hand and feet and climb up the steep wall (this was awesome). It also features a chairlift going up to the walls and a rodel slide attraction where, when you leave you can slide down in a cart from the wall to the tourist center.
Opening times & Fees
March 16 to November 15:
Monday-Friday: 07:30-18:00; Weekends: 07:30-18:30
November 16 to March 15: 8:00-17:00
Adults: CNY 40
Seniors elder than 60: CNY 20 (valid ID or passport required)
Children between 1.2 and 1.4 meters (3.9 and 4.6 feet): CNY 20
Children under 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) are admitted free.
Of course these prices are a bit higher if you’re going with a tour, I think I paid around CNY 500 (around €50,-) for the entire day, including pick up and drop off by bus at the hostel, lunch at a nice place, entry to the wall and the tour guide.
We left early in the morning as a group and had a lot of information and what not told about the Chinese Great Wall before we arrived about an hour or so later. There was a small little village with a lot of tourist stuff right below the entrance and we had to pass right through it to get to the gates. As they were already paid we all got up there and had a few hours to walk along the walls and climb the steep slopes and take many pictures before we all met back up at the rodel slide. It wasn’t a very long wait before we went down in small groups and let me tell you, this was so much fun. You had he chance to see a little bit more of the walls and of the nature as we were going down with loud happy yells.
My impression of the walls is that they’re absolutely immense, even after shrinking quite a bit. I really want to go back some time during the summer so the sky will be more clear and all the plants are green instead of the brown gray we faced now. Even though we could see the wall for miles it was quite a barren look. I love history so much and thinking of the battles, trades and people having passed such an immense place is breath taking. I don’t remember where we went to eat but I do remember how great my group was, all nationalities and all around my age back then. It was the best decision I ever made.
If you’re into culture, history and old stuff.. go here, either as a group or individual. I feel like this is a thing you have to see.