One of the most superb earliest armed force defenses works in the world. The construction of the segments which afterward made up the Great Wall began during the spring and autumn time and lasted into the Warring States Period .Many feudal states built hundreds of li of wall defenses as boundaries.
These unlinked walls were the embryonic form of the Great Wall. In 221 BC, Emperor Qin Shihuang ordered the walls of the Qin, Zhao and Yan kingdoms in the north to be linked up and reinforced, after he united China. The extended new wall stretched from Lintao (now Lop Nur in Xinjiang) in the west through Fengsui to the western edge of Xinjiang, with a total length of over 20,000 li. The construction work lasted for over 2,000 years, through such dynasties as the Northern Wei, Northern Qi, Eastern Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui, Liao, Kin and Ming.
It was during the Ming Dynasty that the Wall took on its present form. At that time, it stretched some 6,300 km from the Yalujiang River in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west, and is known as the Ten Thousand Li Wall. Rammed earth was later replaced by stone, according to the varying physical features of individual sections. Other materials such as planks were also used. Sometimes mountain ridges were even taken directly as the body of the wall.
The Great Wall, a product of cultural conflict and convergence, and integration of farming and nomadic economies, contributed to promote the economic development of the Central Plains, to unite and stabilize the multi-ethnic nation, and to secure the free flow of transport along the Silk Road. Though the Wall no longer functions as it used to, it is a monument of ancient Chinese culture and constitutes a wonder of the world, together with Pyramids of Egypt, Colosseum Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and so on.
The Great Wall is a miracle in human history. No other ancient building in the world has been constructed for so long a time, on such a grand scale and at so tremendous a cost. Dr. Sun Yat-sen once commented that the Great Wall is the most famous work in China and a unique and truly marvelous sight on earth. Neil Armstrong, the first man who set foot on the moon, reported that, There are only two man-made works that can be identified from space and the moon. One is the Great Wall of China; the other is the dykes of Holland. Former U.S. president Nixon said, after he visited the Wall, that only a great nation could build such a great wall. The Wall well deserves its place on the World Heritage List. The Chinese government has attached great importance to tourism, which is supported by wonderful scenery, rich historic sites, and the various cultures and arts of different ethnic minorities.
The Great Wall, both as a cultural relic and unique natural landscape, has its special advantages. It has been widely known among domestic and foreign tourists that one is not a true man unless he climbs up the Great Wall (by Mao Zedong, originally referring to his determination to fight against Japanese invaders in the north). No one will miss the opportunity to visit it. When the former Prime Minister of the UK Mr. Heath mounted the Wall, he said, The past and future of China boast the same charm. …The Great Wall looks much more spectacular than I've seen in photos, embroideries or paintings. This just shows the eagerness of tourists to visit the Great Wall. It will stand with China and the world forever.
Take the Badaling section for example. The Wall there is on average 7.8 m high and 6.7 m wide, narrowing to 4.5 m on the top in a trapezoidal shape. It was built with slabs and bricks, with rammed earth at the core. At that time, building materials could only be conveyed by porters, simple vehicles, mules or goats. It was recorded that it took thousands of people a half year to finish a section 200 m long.
There is a legend about Meng Jiangnü, whose husband was conscripted to work on the Wall soon after they got married. When autumn came, Meng Jiangnü worried that her husband would suffer from the cold in the north, so she walked all the way to the construction site of the Great Wall, taking padded clothes which she had made for him. But when she got there, she was told that her husband had already died from exhaustion and had been buried at the foot of the Wall. Meng Jiangnü's grief was so bitter that 800 li of the Wall collapsed, revealing a pit containing piles of skeletons. She couldn't identify her husband among them, and so she threw herself into the sea together with some of them. Later, two rocks in the shape of grave tablets appeared at the spot. A temple named after Meng Jiangnü was built at the foot of the Great Wall to commemorate her loyalty to her husband.