The Great Wall of China at sunset

The Great Wall

One of the Seven Wonders of the World and an enduring symbol of Chinese civilisation and genius, the UNESCO protected Great Wall of China was built as a defensive structure to protect China against marauding invaders from the north. Although the present wall dates mainly from the Ming dynasty, some 20 states and dynasties were involved in its immense construction over a period of 2,000 years and followed different routes and building extensions as required. Snaking some 8850kms across barren hills, deserts, mountains and plateaus, the now partially ruinous Great Wall stretches east to west in northern China and is believed to be the longest man made structure in the world. At one time perhaps nearly 9700km long, the wall was garrisoned by nearly 1 million soldiers and featured over 1,000 fortified passes and 10,000 beacon towers.

Today, people from all over the world visit to walk on the Great Wall of China, stand on a watchtower and view the wall, winding as far as the eye can see, over the horizon. While some sections of the Great Wall, north of Beijing and near tourist centres have been preserved and in some places even reconstructed, many parts of the Wall are in disrepair and have sadly almost disappeared. The Badaling section is perhaps the best preserved and most frequently visited by tourists. A modern-day visit to the Great Wall offers a healthy, if steep and vertiginous walk, with breathtaking views of the Chinese countryside.

All of our China tours that visit Beijing and our Westbound Classic Trans-Siberian Adventures, include a visit to The Great Wall. We’ve picked a selection below, to inspire you!

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