It was on Saturday, 17 October 2009, when Nena and I finally had the chance to see and also climb the Great Wall of China which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We did this at the Xingshu portion of the Great Wall which is a few hours away by bus from the capital city of Beijing.

A symbol of China's historic detachment and sense of vulnerability, the Great Wall snakes through the countryside over desertsm, hills, and plains for thousand of miles. Originally a series of disparate earthen ramparts built by individual states, the Great Wall was created only after the unification of China under the first emperor.

The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built and rebuilt, and maintained between the 5th Century BC and the 16th Century to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire from Xiongnu attacks during various successive dynasties. Despite impressive battlements, the wall ultimately proved to be ineffective; it was breached in the 13th century by the Mongols and then, in the 17th century, by the Manchu.

Since the 5th century BC, several walls have been built and one of the most famous is the wall built between 220-206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. However, little of that wall remains; the majority of the existing wall were built during the Ming Dynasty. The entire wall with all of its branches, stretches for 8,851.8 km (5,500.3 miltes). Before the use of bricks, the Great Wall was mainly built from earth or taipa, stones and wood. During the Ming Dynasty, bricks weere heavily used in many areas of the wall, as were materials such as tiles, lime, and stone.

While some portions of the Wall north of Beijing and near tourist centers have been preserved and even extensively renovated, in many locations the Wall is in total disrepair. More than 60 kilometers (37 miles) of the Wall in Gansu province may disappear in the next 2 decades due to erosion and sandstorms. In some places, the height of the wall has been reduced from more than 5 meters (16.4 ft) to less than two meters. The square lookout towers that characterize the most famous images of the wall have disappeared completely. Many western sections of the Wall are constructed from mud, rather than brick and stone, and thus are more susceptible to erosion.

When Nena and I visited the Great Wall at Xingshu, I took a number of photographs and you can view these by clicking on the link shown below.

The Great Wall of China