The Great Wall is arguably the most famous and widely known symbol and vestige of China’s glory and magnificence. It is 6,200 miles in length and is supposedly the only man-made object visible from space.
Fortified in by Qin Shi Huang Di (the first emperor to unite China), this “fantastic serpent of stone” served as a defensive barricade against enemies. Its construction was long and arduous and it is said that those who died building the wall were buried in it, with the bricks simply piled on top of their bodies. Erection began as early as the third century B.C. and continued throughout the Han dynasty and the Ming dynasty.
Today the Great Wall can be visited in various locations, with the most popular being near Beijing. Mutianyu is located 56 miles northeast of Beijing and easily accessed by rental car or bus. The popularity of the Great Wall at Badaling made it hard to accommodate the crowds and the Chinese government restored this second section at Mutianyu in 1986. The Great Wall at Mutianyu is a mile long and was among the first built during the Ming Dynasty. A long climb up the stairs leads up to the wall. For those who do not wish to make the ascent on foot, cable cars are readily available as well.