The Great Wall of China’s construction started around the 7th to 8th centuries BC to provode protection from the north. The Great Wall started off just as a regional project and it was probably never expected to grow into what we know today.
The Great Wall, like the rest of China is a great destination for the solo traveller. There are numerous tour groups you can join or you could just go Solo see where you end up!
WHY WAS THE GREAT WALL BUILT
To provide the Chinese Army with an early warning system
From each tower smoke signals could be displayed if enemies approached.
Look out posts
There was a fear throughout the Chinese armies that there could be invasion from the north
To provide a roadway through some pretty had terrain
Soldiers could be deployed much quicker this way and gave the Chinese an important edge over other armies and threats.
To act as a barrier
The most obvious reason but the wall itself was n’t much of a physical barrier. It proved to be more of a psychological barrier against potential invaders.
B.C. 1766 – 1122 – Kings and nobles from the Shang dynasty rule most of northern China.
B.C. 1122 – 771 – The Shang are overthrown by the Zhou.
B.C. 777 – 221 – Under the rule of Zhou China is split into seven states. These kingdoms go to war quite frequently. The states begin to build large walls for defence.
B.C. 221 – Qin Shi Huangdi conquers the seven states and becomes the first emperor of China.
B.C. 214 – The building of the Great Wall begins as barbarians from the north try and invade the new unified China. 300,000 labourers are used to connect a number of the existing defensive walls into a Great Wall. This is then fortified with a number of towers which are very close to one another.
B.C. 202 – A.D. 220 – The Han dynasty rebuilds the Great Wall and makes China a real power.
A.D. 220 – 581 — China breaks up into smaller dynasties as the Han dynasty falls, and there is much revolt. The Great Wall of China continually grows and is patched up where neccessary.
A.D. 581 – 617 — China is reunified in 589 by the Sui dynasty. Sections of the Great Wal are built by the Sui dynasty.
TRAVEL GUIDE TO THE GREAT WALL
The travel season really begins in May – the weather is mostly sunny and not too warm. Things tend to heat up in the Northern hemisphere summer so the next best time to go is late September and October.
During June, July and August the humidity can be high and this is the official wet season. It is n’t monsoon wet though but you will be sharing the wall with thousands from Europe and Japan as this is there main summer holidays.
November to April is the low season (and dry season). There will not be the crowds of the summer months but you will be there for the coldest westher. January can be particularly cold.
Opening hours of the Great Wall
The Wall is generally open all day but the advice is to avoid 10am to 4pm as it will be tour bus hell! If you go later in the day you will miss the crowds and maybe catch a stunning sunset over the wall.
Where to go on the Wall
The three most popular areas of the Great Wall are all towards Beijing which makes it easier to get to the wall from the main China gateway. These areas are Badaling, Mutianya and Simatai.
Badaling is by far the most popular area of the Great Wall with tourists. This is because Beijing is pretty close. The Government have invested a lot of money into the Great Wall here to make it a World number one tourist destination. It is the most popular and attracts most of the tour buses and hawkers selling some tacky gear.
One hour further on is Mutianya and you will be relieved to hear that many of the tour buses that plague Badaling don’t make it this far. The wall here is very steep but there is a cable car so you don’t need to be in top condition to climb it at Mutianya.
One further hour on is Simatai and is even less popular with tour groups which for many will be bliss. The wall here is very steep and there is no cable car so make sure you are in fairly good condition before you come to Simatai.
Getting to China for the Wall
Beijing is the closest large international gateway for the wall. Many national carriers fly into Beijing