The Great Wall of China is one of the most popular human-made structures on the planet. The old wall tells several tales of its glorious past and is probably among the most visited tourist destinations in the world. In this MomJunction article, we present 45 interesting facts about the Great Wall of China, how it came into existence, and what makes the structure special.
1. How long is the Great Wall of China?
The total length of the Great Wall is 21,196 kilometers, which is about 13,171 miles or 834,514,560 inches.
2. How tall is the Great Wall of China?
The average height of the Great Wall of China is 6-7 meters (20-23 feet).
3. What is the tallest point on the Great Wall of China?
The tallest section of the Great Wall is 14 meters (46 feet) from the ground.
4. How wide is the Great Wall of China?
The average width of the top walking area of the Great Wall is 4-5 meters (13-16 feet).
5. When was the Great Wall of China built?
The construction of the Great Wall is said to have begun somewhere around 700 BC. Different dynasties expanded the wall through their reign. The combined age of the Great Wall is 2,300 years.
6. Why was the Great Wall of China built?
The Great Wall of China was built for military purposes. The insurmountable wall made it nearly impossible for invaders to penetrate the heartland of China. Great Wall is not a single wall, but a series of disjointed walls built by different rulers for defense.
The wall built during the reign of the Ming dynasty is the most grandiose. The Ming dynasty wall is the one that has significantly stayed intact and is the most popular spot for tourists.
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7. How many years did it take to build the Great Wall of China?
Several dynasties built, re-built, and expanded on the existing sections of the Great Wall over a period spanning 2000 years, to give the wall its current form.
8. How many people built the Great Wall of China?
In its 2,000 years of history, at least a million workers are said to have worked on making the Great Wall.
9. Who built the Great Wall of China?
The person who is mostly credited for commissioning the Great Wall is emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin dynasty. He built the wall to protect the kingdom from the nomadic invaders from the north. It is speculated though, that the walls could be older than Qin dynasty, and built by unknown rulers. Qin probably was the first who rebuilt and unified the walls to make them stronger.
10. How many rulers made the Great Wall?
The Qin, Han, Wei, Qi, Sui, Liao, Jin, and the Ming dynasties did significant work on the Great Wall.
11. Which ruler built most of the Great Wall?
The rulers of the Ming dynasty built most of the visible and popular sections of the Great Wall of China.
12. Where does the Great Wall of China start and end?
The Great Wall begins at the Jiayuguan Pass in the west and ends at the Shanhai Pass at the east. These are the start and finish points of the major Great Wall section built by the Ming dynasty.
13. When did the construction of the Great Wall of China end?
The construction stopped in the year 1644, with the fall of the Ming dynasty.
14. How many steps are there on the Great Wall of China?
There is no fixed number of the steps. The first section, “Stairway to heaven” alone has 700 steps. When one puts together the total steps found across the Great Wall, the number could be in thousands or even tens of thousands.
15. Is Great Wall of China visible from space?
No! It is a common misconception that the Great Wall is visible from the space or the moon. Some space agencies and astronauts have claimed that the Great Wall is visible from an altitude of 160-320 km (100-200 miles). However, not many have been able to see the wall with the naked eye. Only low orbiting satellites with high-sensitivity cameras have been able to capture the images of the Great Wall.
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More Amazing Facts About The Great Wall Of China
- The Chinese name for the Great Wall of China is Changcheng, which means “Long Wall”.
- It is said that about one-third of the Great Wall is in ruins and only a few remains of this wall stay today.
- About 22% of the Ming Great Wall has disappeared. These sections quite likely fell to vandalism where people stole the rocks from the wall to sell them or used the rocks to build their houses.
- The UNESCO recognized the Great Wall of China as a World Heritage Site in the year 1987.
- There was no cement or sand used to bind the blocks of rock and bricks, which are part of the Great Wall. Instead, the workers used a batter made of rice flour. Workers spread the sticky, glutinous mix of rice and placed bricks on top of it to bind them all together.
- The Great Wall gets about 10 million domestic & international visitors each year.
- The wall has watch towers at several points, which in the past allowed guards to have a full field of view during patrols. During skirmishes with enemies, archers could fire arrows from the guard towers.
- The Ming dynasty built over 1,000 watchtowers across the Great Wall to position guards on the lookout for the enemy.
- It was quite common during the Ming dynasty to send criminal convicts to work as labor for the construction of the Great Wall.
- The Badaling section is the most visited part of the Great Wall. It is also the point where the wall is at its highest, at about a kilometer above sea level.
- The Badaling section is among the most well-preserved sections of the wall. It is also the part that first opened to the tourists.
- The national interest in the Great Wall increased during the early 20th century when foreign visitors to the wall increased.
- The oldest part of the Great Wall of China is the one located at the state of Qi. This wall section is said to have been constructed somewhere between 600-700 BC.
- The original intent of the wall was to defend against the nomadic tribes that came from northern Asia. Later, the wall was used for protection from the Mongols, who were a rising threat to the Chinese kingdoms.
- The great wall spreads over 15 regions of China: Beijing, Jilin, Shaanxi, Heilongjiang, Qinghai, Liaoning, Ningxia, Tianjin, Xinjiang, Henan, Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Gansu, Shanxi, and Hebei.
- The Great Wall ends in the sea at Shanhai pass at a point called Laolongtou, which stands for “Old Dragon Head.”
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- The walls are lit up during the night but mostly at the sections popular with the tourists.
- Several parts of the Great Wall are facing severe decay. These parts could erode, and the wall may disappear in the next couple of decades.
- The cultural revolution of China from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s saw a surge in the number of people looting rocks and bricks from the Great Wall to build their homes. Now, however, removing a brick or a stone from the Great Wall is prohibited.
- The Jiankou section is the steepest part of the Great Wall. It is also considered as one of the riskiest parts of the wall since the tiles are not restored and the ground is abundant with wild plants. However, the risk involved brings a fair amount of thrill, which makes the Jiankou section a favorite among trekkers and adventure seekers.
- The second Sino-Japanese war between China and Japan was fought during the late 1930s near the Great Wall. It is said that certain sections of the wall still have bullet holes from the war.
- The Ming dynasty wall measures 5,500 miles (8851 kilometers).
- Over 300 head of states and VIPS have visited the Great Wall. Most visit the well-preserved section of the wall at Badaling. In 1972, President Nixon of the United States visited this section, which increased the interest towards the Great Wall among American tourists. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also visited the Badaling part of the wall when visiting the Great Wall.
- There are watch holes and shooting holes in the wall, which allowed archers to shoot at the enemies strategically.
- Certain sections of the wall are wider and have different blocks on the floor. These sections were used for soldiers to patrol on a horse. About four horses could fit side by side at some points on the wall.
- It is said that several workers died during the making of the wall, which brought the wall a nickname “The longest cemetery in the world.”
- There were no strict government regulations to protect the Great Wall until the year 2006.
- A section of the Great Wall extends close to the China-North Korea border. Historians believe that the wall extended into North Korea in antiquity.
- New sections of the Great Wall are still discovered, and the latest finding of an unknown section was in the year 2012.
- The Great Wall eventually did little to defend the Ming dynasty. The Manchu dynasty crossed the Great Wall and laid conquest on Beijing in the mid 17th century, thus marking the end of the Ming dynasty.
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While it may or may not have protected the dynasties that built it, the Great Wall of China has stood the test of time. It is a testament to human ingenuity and will. Preservation of such ancient structures is essential since they give us a fascinating peek into our past and the rich history of human civilization.
Have you visited the Great Wall of China? Do tell us about your experience in the comment section below.
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