The Great Wall of China

One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, The Great Wall of China is mankind’s longest structure ever built. It was built over hundreds of years by different dynasties. It can even be seen on radar images from space! There were actually 19 walls that were built but many of them no longer exist. The original wall was built by the Qin Dynasty and other dynasties continued to work on it throughout history. Eventually the Ming Dynasty rebuilt the wall between 1368-1644 CE and expanded its length. This is The Great Wall of China that we know today.

With all of its sections, the wall is approximately 13,171 miles long. The section built by the Ming Dynasty is 3915 miles long. Some sections of the wall measure up to 30 feet wide and 26 feet high. It was built using a variety of materials that were available at the time. At first it was built using compacted dirt, straw and stone. Later the Ming Dynasty used materials such as stone, brick, wood, and tamped earth. The wall extends through varying terrains and even along high mountains. It was built using the labor of peasants and prisoners that the emperor punished. Building the wall was very difficult and dangerous. Workers faced the threat of falling stones, exhaustion, disease, hot and freezing weather, animal attacks and starvation.

Shi Huangdi, emperor of the Qi Dynasty, ordered the wall to be built to provide a barrier between the Chinese and the northern invaders such as the Mongol, Turic, and Xiongnu, from modern-day Mongolia and Manchuria. It also provided strategic placement for watchtowers, beacons for signalling, and shelter for soldiers. The wall coupled with the large amount of manpower that guarded it made Chinese society safe against outside invasions.