Great Wall of China
History of the Great Wall of China: features of the architecture, interesting facts and myths, the current state, interesting excursions.
The famous Chinese Wall is the largest architectural monument in the world, and unequivocally the most ambitious creation of Chinese civilization. According to the official data the length of the Great Wall of China is 8 852 kilometers. The Chinese themselves insist on a more impressive figure – 21,196 kilometers!
The Great Wall of China starts in the east of the country in the town of Shanhaiguan on the coast of the Yellow Sea.
Among the Chinese people the construction is considered a symbol of the earth dragon, respectively, the very first tower was named “Laoluntou” – “dragon head”.
From Shanghaiguan construction zigzag stretches almost all of northern China, and ends near the city Jiayuguan. Although over seven hundred years have passed since the construction of the outpost, this is where the wall has best preserved its original appearance due to multiple restoration work.
History of the Chinese Wall
The foundation stone of the future wonder of the world was laid in the third century B.C., during the Period of Battling Kingdoms, to protect the country from attacks of the Hunnu, a nomadic people. The order issued by Emperor Qing Shi Huangdi brought about a million people to the great construction site, 1/5 of China’s entire population at the time. A few years later, the number of workers rose, according to various estimates, to two million. As a rule, forced laborers: builders included slaves, prisoners, soldiers, prisoners of war, as well as ordinary peasants who were forced to abandon their families and households for the safety of the country.
It is believed that more than 2 million people died during the entire construction work, whose bodies were walled up in the base of the buildings. As a consequence, people have coined another name for it, “The Wailing Wall.
Despite periodic changes of government, the construction of the Great Wall of China has not stopped for over two thousand years. Most of its more than 10,000 kilometers were built under the Han Dynasty. However, the main sections that have survived to this day emerged during the reign of the Ming Dynasty in the 12th and 17th centuries.
Initially, the building material was extremely primitive, literally lifted from the ground: clay, reeds, pebbles, etc. In the Qin Dynasty, workers began to use slabs of stone, and in the Ming Dynasty stone blocks and fired bricks appeared.
The parameters of the structure varied depending on the specific sites. The average height is about 7 meters, but thanks to the prongs it occasionally rose to 10 meters. The same applies to the thickness: at the base – 6 meters, on the ridge – 5, and in especially dangerous regions builders expanded the wall up to 8 meters.
The towers are an integral part of the great construction. Some of them existed even before the wall was built: they were simply covered with building material and made part of the general structure, although they were located in arbitrary places.
Specially designed towers were built more carefully. First, they were not more than 200 m apart so that arrows could reach their targets if necessary. Second, such watchtowers were most often of two stories high and had embrasures on the upper floors. There were beacons every 50 kilometers. A dozen or so gates were built for the passage of vehicles and later turned into fortified outposts.
Unfortunately, due to the drying up of almost all underground sources and degradation of the soil, powerful sandstorms are increasingly frequent in northwest China. According to some reports, changed climatic conditions have actually destroyed 1/3 of the entire Chinese Wall. Many areas that are a considerable distance from the traditional tourist routes have been abandoned.
The human factor has a lot to do with the destruction of the landmark. Thus, the landmark is often dismantled because of the construction of a new highway or railroad. Local residents often use the building materials taken from the wall to build their own houses. The appearance of the structure is also spoiled by street artists drawing a variety of graffiti.
Excursions to the Great Wall
The Chinese Wall has four main sections that are most popular with tourists.
The most visited of these is Badaling, named after a nearby mountain. This section is about 60 kilometers from Beijing; the length of the route is about 50 kilometers. Everyone can visit Badaling from 06:00 to 22:00 in the summer months, and from 07:00 to 18:00 in winter. The entrance ticket costs CNY 45 to CNY 50: for this money you can walk around the wall, visit the museum dedicated to it and watch a short film about its construction at the Circle Vision Theatre.
The Mutianyu site, 95 kilometers from Beijing, is the second most visited. The reason for this is, firstly, the scenic beauty of the local nature and, secondly, certain difficulties during the walk. The fact is that the site is located in a mountainous area, so the only acceptable way to get to him is to use a special cable car. But that’s not all: in Mutyanyu built a lot of stairs, whose steps have different sizes. According to the architects’ idea, such obstacles were supposed to significantly slow down the enemies.
The site is open to visitors from 06:30 to 18:00. Tickets cost CNY 45 to CNY 50, but you have to pay another CNY 65 to CNY 80 for the cable car ticket.
Another popular site is Simatai, which is 115 kilometers from Beijing. Here travelers will need an even greater degree of endurance: the wall is built along mountains and precipices, and the towers are located 40 meters apart. Nevertheless, tourists often go exactly to Simatai: here you can see very beautiful towers decorated with carvings, as well as climb the Beijing Tower, whose height is almost one thousand meters above sea level. In addition, this section has two other noteworthy structures – the Heavenly Bridge and the Heavenly Staircase.
The Shimatai section is open from 08:00 to 17:00. The ticket costs CNY 40 and the cable car ranges from CNY 90 to CNY 160.
The Jinshanling section closes out the top four of the most popular sightseeing routes. It is the most remote site of all – 130 kilometers from Beijing. The length of the wall in this area reaches 11 kilometers, the number of watchtowers – 24.
Opening hours – from 08:00 to 17:00. Ticket price – 65 CNY, cable car ride – 40 CNY.
Many people are very interested in the question, can you see the wall from space? After a lot of research, scientists concluded that a person can see the structure from orbit, if only have sevenfold visual acuity.
The first Chinese astronaut named Yang Liwei, who clearly had a special interest in the case, could not boast such fantastic vision. Upon his arrival home, he made it short and clear that the Chinese Wall was not visible from space.
Nevertheless, planes flying from Russia to China most often fly over the main Chinese landmark, so you can still see it through the window.
Folk legend has it that not a single death during construction was in vain. The mortar used to bind the stone slabs was allegedly made from human bones. Of course, these were just scare stories: in fact, the mortar consisted only of rice flour.
However, the builders still had a great respect for death. When someone died, they buried him according to a certain ritual: a cage with a rooster was placed in the coffin along with his body. It was believed that the rooster’s crow would keep the deceased’s spirit awake until the procession left the wall. If the rooster crowed before it was supposed to do so, the dead man’s spirit could not find peace and had to roam around the building for many centuries.
Another myth concerning the afterlife tells of a farmer’s wife named Meng Jiannoy, who lost her husband because of the construction of the structure. The woman came to the place of death and began to weep bitterly. Suddenly the wall collapsed, and in a pile of stones Meng found her dead husband’s bones, which had been consigned to earth according to ancient custom.
Legends of the Great Wall of China
The first legend is the Wall of Tears. It tells about a man named Wang. When the Emperor Qin Shi-Huangdi was building the first wall (there were three main walls of a length of 10,000 li (5,000 km) each – “yi wan” in Chinese), he was foretold that he could complete the construction only after the man named Wang (“Wang” – translated as 10,000 people) would be buried under the wall. The Emperor ordered him to kill him and bury him in the wall. The same fate befell all those who died during the construction. They were buried under the wall, in an upright position. These nameless builders stood on the eternal guard of the Celestial Empire. That’s why the Great Wall of China used to be called the world’s longest cemetery or the Wall of Tears. At that time, special detachments of military men were organized to prowl the villages in search of new workers, and terrify their inhabitants. It is said that if you put your ear to the wall in a moment of absolute silence, you can hear the voices and groans of those who died in its construction.
The second legend is Meng Jiangn;. During the Qin dynasty, a man named Fan Qiliang, who was forced to work on the construction of the wall, managed to escape and hid in a garden belonging to a family. There he met a beautiful girl, her name was Meng Jiangn. The young people fell in love with each other. The girl’s father was the owner of the garden. He gave his consent to the wedding. The happy couple could not rejoice at each other, but the emperor’s soldiers found the young man and took him away again to build the wall. The young wife waited until winter, but her husband did not return. Then Meng Jiangn gathered warm clothes for him and set off for the wall. When she reached the place, she could not find her husband among the workers. She begged the emperor, and he, captivated by her beauty, offered her to become one of his concubines. Then the beautiful girl again rushed to the wall, and there days and nights she shed tears until they melted the stone and exposed the bones and bodies of people. Meng Jiangn cut her fingers and the blood from them spilled onto one of the bodies, in which the girl recognized her dead husband. In utter despair and not wanting to get to the emperor, she buried the body and jumped into the raging waters of the river and drowned herself.
The third legend is Jia Yuguan. The western section of the third wall, which was built during the Ming Dynasty, has the best-preserved section called Jia Yuguan. It stands alone in the Gobi Desert. If you ask the guides, they will point you to one brick in this wall. Legend has it that there was an architect who lived during the Ming Dynasty who designed this section of wall. It is said that he was so precise in his calculations that he could count how many bricks it would take to build this section. When construction was completed, there was only one extra brick left. It was built into the wall in memory of a gifted builder named Jia Yuguan.
The fourth legend is the Widow’s Tower. There is a part of the wall that is called Tai Ping Zhai, near the Huang Ya Guan site. Here is the tower, which is popularly known as the “Widow’s Tower”. It is said that twelve soldiers from Henan province died during the construction of Huang Ya Guan. They were so terribly sorry to hear of their deaths that they set off as soon as they reached the wall. When they finally reached the wall, they began to build a tower so that the memory of their fallen soldiers would be preserved for centuries.
The fifth legend is the Metal Soup. There is another section of the wall Huang Hua Cheng on the outskirts of Beijing, named after the yellow flowers that bloom here every summer. But one story has survived about the construction of this section during the Ming dynasty. It was entrusted to General Cai Kai, who oversaw the construction process. It took several years before it was completed. The authorities were extremely displeased that the general had spent so much time and money. He was executed. After a while, the emperor discovered that there was something wrong with the wall. Then he sent his servants to investigate. And it turned out that this wall was, indeed, unlike the others. It was incredibly strong and steep. Not a single tiny piece could chip off the bricks and stones that made up the wall, and they themselves were bound together by nothing but sticky rice soup. Upon learning that the construction was carried out at the pinnacle of skill and quality, the emperor ordered a nameplate to be affixed in honor of General Cai, and on the large stone at the base of the wall to be inscribed “Metallic Soup.
During World War II, Japanese troops tried to blow up part of the wall of the Huang Hua Cheng site, and finally they succeeded. This part collapsed into a nearby lake. To this day, it is possible to see two parts of the wall continuing on both sides of the lake.
Later, a new legend arose about the ghost of General Cai, who once helped drive away invaders who came to the wall and intended to penetrate beyond it into China.
The sixth legend is the Emperor. Emperor Zhou Youwang of the Zhou dynasty is said to have liked to entertain himself in an unusual way. To poke fun at his princes, as well as to entertain his mistress, he ordered signal lights to be lit on the towers of the wall, in the absence of a real attack. This infuriated the princes to such an extent that when the enemy did approach, and the lights were lit again, no one came to the emperor’s aid, and he was killed.
The seventh legend is the Cosmic Antenna. And this legend is a hypothesis already belonging to a later time. Researchers have discovered a number of factors that allow them to come to certain conclusions. Researchers of the anomalous phenomena are inclined to consider that the large-scale burial under a wall is nothing else than a feeding battery of colossal sizes and capacity. It follows a strictly defined line. The wall twists and loops not only in those sections where such construction is expedient, but also in the flat sections where straight sections could be built. Overlaying the map of the wall of the known geographic grid of parallels and meridians shows – it almost exactly repeats the thirtieth parallel. Recent calculations have reconstructed the position of the 30th parallel 2200 years ago and the approximate configuration of the continent. In those distant times, the wall ran almost along the parallel. Hence one of its traditional names, the Golden Mean of the Empire. The Golden Mean is a certain optimum, the zero mark, the line of harmony. Try to move from the wall further along the 30th parallel, and you will come across first the Egyptian pyramids and then… the Bermuda Triangle. In this case (taking into account the correction for the constant seismic motion of the Earth’s solid rock) all three objects are equidistant from each other. It is known that any physical body has a certain electric potential. Scientists of scientific fields related to physics have investigated known anomalous places of our planet. The Earth has a constant electric charge. The Great Wall of China is in the place where the potential expires to the north and south. According to the laws of electrodynamics, the Earth’s movement around the Sun generates an electromagnetic wave whose phase velocity is much greater than the speed of light. These are sufficient conditions for establishing communication with the cosmos. The outer walls could well be used as a two-wire line of communication. They were supposedly used to send a signal, which interfered with the natural electromagnetic field of the Earth and changed its structure. This is how the signal was sent into space.