China # 10 The Great Wall
The Great Wall of China was built over 2,000 years ago, by Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China during the Qin (Ch'in) Dynasty (221 B.C - 206 B.C.). In Chinese the wall is called "Wan-Li Qang-Qeng" which means 10,000-Li Long Wall (10,000 Li = about 5,000 km).
After uniting China from seven Warring States, the emperor connected and extended four old fortification walls along the north of China that originated about 700 B.C. (over 2500 years ago). Armies were stationed along the wall as a first line of defense against the invading nomadic Hsiung Nu tribes north of China (the Huns). Signal fires from the Wall provided early warning of an attack.
The Great Wall is one of the largest building construction projects ever completed. It stretches across the mountains of northern China, winding north and northwest of Beijing. It is constructed of masonry, rocks and packed-earth. It was over 5,000 km (=10,000 Li) long. Its thickness ranged from about 4.5 to 9 meters (15 to 30 feet) and was up to 7.5 meters (25 feet) tall.
During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Great Wall was enlarged to 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles) and renovated over a 200 year period, with watch-towers and cannons added.
It is an amazing construction but it's estimated that several million Chinese lost their lives in the construction of this project. It also was guarded by about a million men during the Ming Dynasty. All along the wall at frequent intervals are the old watch towers. As we approached the wall this is one of the first views I got (taken on phone camera).
What you can't see from the photos is that the steps vary in height and this does make it quite difficult to get into a rhythm for climbing and descending.
I only went up a couple of levels and there were hand rails for poor old souls like me. Very rusty handrails that left you with bright orange hands at the end of the descent.The views are well worth the climb.
Two of our party dressed in tradition costumes.