Wonder wall

Updated: 2011-08-05 10:54

By Yan Yiqi (China Daily European Weekly)

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Wonder wall

There are so many varying scenes along China's Great Wall

Among all of China's great achievements in its 5,000-year history, the Great Wall is arguably one of its greatest. In 1987 UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage site and it is one of the most visited attractions on the planet. Construction of the wall dates back to as early as the 5th century BC, and it was rebuilt and maintained through to the 16th century. The majority of the existing wall was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Winding along the countryside like a gigantic dragon, the massive structure passes across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus, reaches the ocean, and stretches about 8,850 km from east to west in northern China. The following five cities play special host to this amazing wonder.

1. Beijing

For the past 800 years, Beijing has been strategically important to Chinese empires and today there are eight well-preserved sections of the Great Wall near the city.

The most famous section is Badaling, which is located about 70 km northwest of the city. Built in 1571 and repaired in 1957, it was the first section of the Great Wall opened to tourists.

This section is about 5 km long with 19 watchtowers and is the most visited and photographed part of the wall because of its easy access to Beijing.

2. Qinhuangdao, Hebei province

For centuries this pass, in North China's Hebei province, guarded the narrow passage between northeast and central east China. At the end of the section, visitors can enjoy the magnificent view where the Great Wall meets the ocean.

Originally built in 1381, the pass of Shanhaiguan is square shaped, with a 4 km-long perimeter. The walls are 14-meters tall and 7-meters thick. The east, south and north sides are surrounded by a deep, wide moat.

Within the city, many types of defense buildings can still be seen.

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