When you said that you have been to China as a sight seeing tourist, invariably people will ask you whether you have you visited The Great Wall Of China.
Why are people so obsessed with this ancient fortress monument? Well, as someone who have taken a sightseeing tour of the Great Wall, I can sum it up in one word. The Great Wall of China is awesome!
I was awestruck by the spectacular scenery and its courageous history. This gigantic monument is considered by many people as one of the wonders of the world. Any tourist traveling to China must definitely make visit the Chinese tourist attraction.
The Great Wall of China is over 2,000 years old and it is a monument rich in history. It was first conceived and constructed by Qin Shi Huang or also known as Shi Huang Ti, who was the first emperor of China. The wall is called "Wan-Li Qang-Qeng" in Chinese when translated literally means 10,000 li long wall which is equivalent to about 5,000 km or 2,272 miles long.
The Great Wall Of China was constructed as a military fortification against intrusion by invading normadic ancient tribes. The Chinese people at that time called these tribes barbarians since the Chinese royalties were living in sprawling palaces and these tribes were living in tents.
After the emperor Qin unified China in 214 BC, he ordered the construction of the wall. It took more than a decade to construct and the great wall stretched from Lintao in the eastern part of Gansu province in the west to Liaodong in Jilin province in the east. The wall not only served as a defensive bastien against invaders in the northern parts of China, it is also a symbol of power for the proud emperor.
From the Qin Dynasty onwards, Xiongnu (translated from Chinese as fierce anger), which was an ancient tribe that roamed Northern China, frequently make incursions and plunder towns and villages along the northern border.
During the Han Dynasty in and around 121 BC, emperor Han Wu Di, ordered three military expeditions to repel and quash the Xiongnu tribe. The military expeditions successfully pushed the Xiongnu tribe into the far north of the Gobi desert, which is a tundra.
In order to secure the safety of the Hexi Corridor (now Gansu province), the emperor also ordered the construction of the extension of the Great Wall westward into the Hexi Corridor and Xinjiang region. The ruins of the tower beacons and debris of the Han Wall are still preserved in Dunhuang, Yumen and Yangguan districts and provinces. There is also a report that more ruins of the Han Wall have recently been discovered near Lopnur in Xinjiang province.
The present day Great Wall Of China in Beijing is mainly the remains from the Ming Dynasty era. During this golden era of Chinese culture, bricks and granite were used when the workers laid the foundation of the wall. Sophisticated designs and passes were also constructed in places of strategic military importance.
To further empower the military's control of China's northern frontiers, the Ming Dynasty government divided the Great Wall into nine zones and placed each zone under the command and control of a Zhen, which is a military garrison headquarter.
The Ming Wall begins at Yalujiang River in what is now in Heilongjiang province, through Liaoning, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia provinces, to Gansu reaching a length of about 12,700 li (about 5,200 km or 2,400 miles).
Although The Great Wall served succeeding dynasties very well for a few hundred years as a defence bastion against invading forces, the invaders from the north in the end were able to advance and conquer China in succeeding dynasties such as Mongolians (Yuan Dynasty, 1271-1368) and the Manchus (Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911) did.
With such splendidly rich history and panoramic views, is it any wonder why the Great Wall Of China is one of the most visited tourist attraction in the world?
About the Author
Chris Chew is a frequent traveler at China vacation holiday