A Journey on the Great Wall
Journey on the Great Wall
The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century bc; these, later joined together and made bigger and stronger, are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall. Especially famous is the wall built 220–206 bc by Qin Shihuang, the First Emperor of China. Little of that wall remains. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced; the majority of the existing wall is from the Ming Dynasty.
Other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration. Furthermore, 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.
The main Great Wall line stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi). This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi).
As early as the Qin Dynasty (221-207BC) when building the Great Wall, glutinous rice flour was used in making the binding material to bind the bricks.
There is a popular legend about Meng Jiangnv whose husband died building the wall. Her weeping was so bitter that a section of the wall collapsed, revealing her husband's bones so she could bury them.
Built in 1381 in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Shanhaiguan is a town situated in the northeast of Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province. It literally means "The Pass of Mountain and Sea".
It adjoins the Bohai Sea to the southeast and the Yanshan Mountain to the northwest. The city wall of the ancient town is still well-preserved. While the Shanhai Pass is now the main entrance to the town, in the Ming Dynasty the area to the north of Shanhaiguan was not Chinese territory. Following the complex physical features of this area, the northern area was once part of the defensive system of the Great Wall.
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Juyongguan Pass is located 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Changping County, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Beijing. It is a renowned pass of the Great Wall of China. Enlisted in the World Heritage Directory in 1987, it is a national cultural protection unit.
Situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, Juyongguan Pass has long been a military stronghold. As early as the Spring and Autumn Period (770BC-476BC) and Warring States Period (476BC-221BC), the Yan State built fortifications here. In the Northern and Southern Dynasties (386-589), this section was linked to the Great Wall of China. This pass served as a natural barrier to the capital of Yuan (1271-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) Dynasties. Therefore, immediately after the founding of his reign, Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, ordered the pass to be rebuilt to protect the borders from intrusions of the Mongolian tribe. Many fierce battles were fought here.
Eastem China, near the Capital city
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Located about six kilometers (four miles) southwest of Jiangyuguan City in Gansu Province, the Jiayuguan Pass represents the western starting point of a section of the Great Wall constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The pass covers an area of 33,500 square meters (eight acres) and lies at the base of a narrow valley, and takes its name from one of the surrounding hills, the Jiayu. Commonly referred to as the finest example of its kind on earth, the pass is the best preserved of the Great Wall's ancient military fortresses.
The Jiayuguan Pass was constructed as far back as 1372. Legend has it that the official charged with overseeing the building of the pass demanded that the foremen not squander a single brick. The builders were for the most part successful, and the project was finished with just one brick surplus to requirements. It was actually left at the site and has become famous among the tourists visiting the area.
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