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Great Wall of China

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It is thought that the earliest wall was built under the rule of Emperor Qin, who successfuly unified parts of China around 221 BC. Previously, individual states had built their own wall defences, but now Emperor Qin sought to connect the walls to provide defences against northern invaders. He ordered the building of the “Wan Li Chang Cheng" as it was known in China. This translates as "the ten thousand li Great Wall". A "li" is a Chinese length unit. 2 li are equal to 1 km.

Read (or print) the famous story Meng Jiangnu Weeps.

Most of the original wall no longer exists. Over the centuries that followed each dynasty did more work to maintain and develop the wall. The Ming dynasty (1368-1644) carried out a major rebuilding project extending the Great Wall, which resulted in a 6000 kilometre wall which is what is mainly in evidence today.

The Great Wall of China is approximately 6000 kilometres long. However if you were to measure all the individual structures and changes to the wall made over the centuries, it is believed the final measurement would total over 50000 kilometres!

Coordinates: 40°40′37″N 117°13′55″E / 40.67693°N 117.23193°E / 40.67693; 117.23193The Great Wall of China was built over 2000 years ago and is the longest man-made structure ever built. It is an instantly recognisable structure which many people are familiar with, though often know little about. We have gathered below some of the most interesting facts about the Great Wall including when the wall was built, how long the wall is, and if it is visible from the moon.

A picture of the Great Wall of China.
The Great Wall of China, in Shanhaiguan.

How long did it take to build the Great Wall of China? The Great Wall was built over many years. It is believed the original Great Wall was built over a period of approximately 20 years. The Great Wall which is mainly in evidence today was actually built during the Ming dynasty, over a period of around 200 years.

Ruins of a watchtower on the Great Wall

The Great Wall of China is an ancient wall in China. The wall is made of cement, rocks, bricks, and powdered dirt. It was built to protect the north of the empire of China from enemy attacks. It is the longest structure humans have ever built. It is about 21,196 kilometres (13,171 miles) long, 9.1 metres (30 feet) wide and 15 metres (50 feet) high. The earlier sections on the wall are made of compacted dirt and stone. Later in the Ming Dynasty they used bricks. There are 7,000 watch towers, block houses for soldiers and beacons to send smoke signals.

Nineteen walls have been built that were called the Great Wall of China. The first was built in the 7th century BC. The most famous wall was built between 226–200 BC by the first Emperor of Imperial China, Qin Shai Hong, during the Qin Dynasty. Not much of this wall remains as people have been stealing from it. It was much farther north than the current wall. The current wall was built during the Ming Dynasty.[1]

History[change | change source]

The First Emperor of China started the Qin Dynasty. The Xiongnu tribes in the north of China were his enemies. The land in some parts of China is easy to cross, so Qin Shi Huang started building the Great Wall to make it more difficult for the Xiongnu to invade China.

Other dynasties in China worked more on the wall and made it longer. The Han, Sui, Northern and Jin Dynasties all repaired, rebuilt or expanded the Great Wall. During the Ming Dynasty, major rebuilding work took place. Sections of the wall were built with bricks and stone instead of earth.

Construction and rebuilding of the Great Wall[change | change source]

Builders used materials that were nearby. Some parts of the wall were made of mud, straw, and twigs. Thousands of workers died from giant falling stones, exhaustion, disease, animal attacks, and starvation. The idea that workers who died were buried in and under the Great Wall is a myth.[2]

Visibility from space[change | change source]

Rumours about astronauts being able to see the Great Wall from the moon are scientifically not proven.[3] The Great Wall has shown up in radar images taken from space, but scientists are sure it is not possible for astronauts to see the wall with a naked eye.[4]One astronaut who spoke about the visibility of the Great Wall from space was Neil Armstrong. He said that on the moon it was very clear that the wall was not visible. However, astronaut William Pogue was able to see the wall from a Low Earth Orbit distance (300-530 km height), but only with binoculars and with lots of practice. [5]

References[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Great Wall of China at Wikimedia Commons