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Great Wall, CHN
Great Wall – China
The Great Wall of China is an accomplishment of epic proportions. As one of the few man-made structures clearly visible from space, you’re only see the tip of the iceberg when you visit the Wall.
The construction of the wall dates back to the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty. The Qin represented the first major unification of feudal states in China between 221 BC and 206 BC. Due to their rapid expansion, the threat of invasion from northern nomadic tribes like the Mongolians became a significant problem. In order to stem the tide of raids and property theft, the Emperor embarked on what would be one of the largest construction projects of all time spanning 15 centuries. The Wall was not designed to keep people out. It was actually built to prevent horses from being brought in by invaders. Since it is theoretically impossible to prevent people from scaling the walls, it could only be ensured that they wouldn’t be able to travel readily once inside China.
Such an ambitious project could not be completed in a single lifetime. Indeed, the Great Wall was constructed during four distinct periods in Chinese history. The initial construction was done by the Qin starting in 208 BC shortly before the fall of the Dynasty to the Han Dynasty. The Hans picked up where the Qin left off in a new spate of construction. No additional work was done until the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period spanning 1138 CE – 1198 CE. The final (and most comprehensive) work was completed by the powerful Ming Dynasty starting in 1368 CE.
You can visit the tourist-designated portions of the Great Wall, which are generally in better condition than the ’wild’ portions of the wall. The height of the wall varies due to different phases of construction, but the average is about 25 feet. Dotted along the 2500 mile length of the wall are a series of watchtowers rising up to 40 feet in height every 600 feet in the eastern portions of the wall. There are also numerous barracks and storehouses that once housed regular defensive army units. The watchtowers make up a defensive fighting station with heavily fortified stairways and halls designed to give a serious advantage for overwhelmed defenders.
For tourists, many ancient weapons have been reproduced and can be seen at the top of the wall along the parapet. The tourist portions of the wall are usually built out of quarried limestone. Other portions of the wall are built from granite, fired brick, or even wood. There’s a saying in Chinese that goes ”You’re not a man until you’ve stood on the Great Wall.” Whether or not you hold this belief, you should still visit a portion of the wall before you finish your time on Earth!