Role reversal for China's timeless wall

22nd Jul 2013

China's Long Wall of Ten Thousand Li remains one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It attracts 10 million holidaymakers on group tours to the country every year.

But if one of the world's most famous cultural sites may sound unfamiliar to you, that's because it is better known to Europeans as the Great Wall of China.

The reason for The Great Wall was to protect China from outside hostilities, and also to preserve its culture from the customs of foreign 'barbarians'.

Its formidable defensive structures were built to repel invasion of the Celestial Empire.

Today, it aims to draw foreigners in.

Work started on the edifice around 28 centuries ago and is a series of fortifications comprising brick, wood, stone, earth and other materials across China's northern borders.

Two emblematic monuments still nobly stand at either end of the wall - the First Door under Heaven at Shanhaiguan, situated at the wall's eastern end, and the Last Door under Heaven at Jiayuguan, which, as part of the fortress completely restored after 1949, marks its north-western end.

It is a magnificent, unique example of a military architectural ensemble which served a single strategic purpose for 2,000 years.

The Great Wall is a masterpiece, not only because of the vast ambitious character of the undertaking but also the perfection of its construction.

The wall represents, on the massive scale of a continent, a grand example of architecture integrated into the landscape.

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