The Great Wall is known as the "Wan Li Chang Cheng" in China, or the "Ten Thousand Li Long Wall". It stretches for 7,350km from the banks of the Yalu River in Liaoning Province in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in Gansu Province in the west. Rising and falling across mountains and plains, the Great Wall is a symbol of ancient Chinese Culture and pride of the Chinese People.
Construction of the China Great Wall started back in 7th century BC. The vassal states of the Zhou Dynasty each built their own walls for defense. In 221 when Emperor Qin Shi Huang conquered the other six states ordered the defense walls be linked up, rebuilt, extended, and reinforced. This was the original beginnings of the Great Wall of China.
Construction and further reinforcement of the Great Wall continued throughout Chinese history for over 2,000 years. What remains of the Great Wall today is mainly from construction during the Ming Dynasty. The section of the Great Wall in Beijing is the best preserved. In 1567, General Qi Jiguang was in charge of reconstructing the Great Wall starting at Shanhaiguan Pass in the east stretching to the Juyongguan Pass in the west. This became the first line of defense for the nation's capital.
The Great Wall enters the Beijing area at Jiangjunguan Pass and stretches across 6 districts with a length of 629km. Of these, the sections of Badaling, Juyongguan, Mutianyu, Simatai, Gubeikou are the most famous, and popular for tourist attractions. In 1987 the Great Wall was added to the World Heritage by UNESCO.
Badaling Great Wall of China
The Badaling Great Wall was built in 1505 during the 18th year of Ming Emperor Hongzhi's reign. This section of the great wall is located on the ridges of Jundu Mountain in Yanqing County. It guards the north entrance of Juyongguan Pass and was the gateway to Beijing city. The wall itself stands at an average height of 7.8 meters built on huge granite slabs. The top of the wall is wide enough for 5 horses walking side by side. Watch towers are built at 500 meter intervals where soldiers lived, stored weapons and kept guard of the towers.
Juyongguan Pass is located in Changping District. This pass provided defense to northwest Beijing, and was one of the most important fortifications in the past. The current structure covers an area of 33,500 square meters and was built during the Ming Dynasty. Juyongguan Pass has two gates. A wall enclosure was constructed at the southern gate. Inside the pass is a marble platform called the Yuntai (Cloud Terrace), which was built in 1268 during the Yuan Dynasty.
Juyongguan Pass was referred to as the "most impossible pass under the sky" signifying its well built defenses. The pass has witnessed many significant battles. In 1644 the troops of the Peasant Uprising led by Li Zicheng took over Beijing and entered the city from Juyongguan.
Mutianyu Great Wall
The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall was built during the Northern Qi Dynasty in the 6th century. It is located in Huairou District, and what remains today is from the restoration efforts made during the Ming Dynasty. It connects with Juyongguan Pass in the West and Gubeikou in the east. This section of the great wall defended the capital and the imperial tombs during the Ming Dynasty.
Simatai Great Wall
Simatai Great Wall is located in Gubeikou Town in northeast Miyun County. It's ruins still maintains the ancient structure of the Ming Dynasty. The Great Wall of Simatai was the gateway between North China Plains and Inner Mongolia, and played a special role during the Ming Dynasty.
Simatai was first built in Northern Qi Dynasty, and then rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty. Compared with other sections of the Great Wall, Simatai is densely built with beacon towers. Simatai Great Wall is separated into two parts by a valley. The highest part of the wall is called Wangjinglou (Beijing Watching Tower). The tower stands at the peak of a mountain 1,000 meters above sea level.