An enduring symbol of Chinese military might and architectural ingenuity, The Great Wall is immediately recognisable as one of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sights. Today we’ll be looking at where it came from, who built it, and why. And is it visible from space? Read on to find out!
First off, let’s settle the ‘space’ issue. People often say ‘The Great Wall of China s the only man-made object visible from space.’ First of all, you can see other man-made objects from space. And secondly, The Great Wall is in fact very difficult to see from space – partly because it’s made of rocks from the surrounding landscape (making it blend in really well), and partly because although it’s really long, it’s not all that wide. Read more about the Great Wall and space here.
Now for some real facts about the Great Wall of China:
The exact date of the start of the build is disputed, but many small sections of wall were erected by the different states that would become what we know today as China, and this is believed to have been some time between the 7th century BC and the 5th Century BC. So we’re dealing with a pretty old wall here. Back in the old times, the wall was built to keep out the marauding Huns, a fierce nomadic people who were known for their military prowess and horsemanship, and also gave the Romans a good run for their money all across Europe and Asia.
But it wasn’t until the rise of the Ming Dynasty in 1368 that the wall truly came into its own and was extended and added to extensively. Fortresses were added to store supplies, and beacons were added that would provide light. Reports of its length vary, but it could be as long as around 6700km.
Construction on the wall was basically halted in the 17th century with the invasion of the Manchu – invaders from Manchuria who infiltrated China and gave rise to the Qing dynasty.
Over the years, the wall fell into disrepair, but it is still a major attraction, drawing some 10 million people each year to a small section of the wall open to tourists. Although some 50% of the original wall has disappeared altogether, it’s still hugely impressive, a real testament to the might of the Chinese over several thousand years.
Recognised as one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ in 2007, there are steps being taken to preserve and revitalise the wall. Visit The Great Wall of China with us and see this incredible monument up close.