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The Great Wall
The Great Wall Marathon
The Great Wall Marathon is an annual marathon race held in May along and on the Huangya Pass; (Literally: "Yellow Cliff Pass"), Tianjin section of the Great Wall of China. Since it first started in 1999, the race has grown to several hundred participants. 2013 marked the debut of an8.5km "fun run", replacing the 5 and 10 km distances. The course is much tougher than traditional marathons with participants challenged by 5,164 stone steps and many steep ascents and descents.
The Great Wall is often compared to a huge dragon winding up and down in the mountains, grassland and deserts. In Chinese history, over 20 states and dynasties have built the wall, and the sections built in Qin (221 BC-206 BC), Han (206BC-220) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties built most of it. The current survey of the length of the wall has confirmed that it is 5,500 miles long. It starts from Hushan in Liaoning in the east and ends at Jiayuguan Pass in Gansu in the west. The largest and most often visited sites are in Hebei province.
Of course, the Great Wall no longer has any military function, and many sections have been repaired and opened to the public. Among them, Badaling is the most famous which receives the most visitors from home and abroad. Mutianyu is famous for its spectacular scenery, Jinshanling and Simatai are well known for the wildness and cragginess, and Jiankou attracts some adventuresome travelers, since it is the most rugged and dangerous terrain. The Great Wall offer many things to fit the interests of many different types of travelers. It has been visited by many modern day US presidents and is the most iconic scenic sight in all of China.
50 Great Wall of China Facts
This page lists 50 Great Wall of China facts and a few interesting myths and legends. Although a lot is known about the Great Wall, there are many things that are still unknown. The list below covers a wide range of facts from history to famous people who have visited, and even answers the question "Can the Great Wall be seen from outer space?"
Great Wall of China Facts 1-10:
1. The Great Wall’s name in Chinese is 长城 (cháng chéng). The literal meaning is “long wall”.
2. Although no one knows the real number, it has been estimated that over 1,000,000 million lives were lost building the Wall. For this, it is known as “the world’s longest cemetery”.
3. The man power that built the Wall came from three main sources: garrison troops, drafted civilian workers, and criminals.
4. The Great Wall became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
5. The Great Wall of China cannot be seen from outer space. It is a myth that has been around since the 1930’s.
6. The Great Wall is mentioned in China’s national anthem. It also pictured on China’s currency.
7. There are three main construction phases of the Wall. Qin, Han, and Ming. The Ming Great Wall was the largest construction phase with 18 large scale projects over 200 years starting in 1368.
8. The Ming Great Wall starts at Hushan and goes all the way to Gansu Province in the west totaling over 4,350 miles (7,000 Kilometers).
9. On April 28, 1984, President Ronald Reagan (left) visited the Wall. He is quoted as saying “The Great Wall is one of the greatest wonders in the world, and is really encouraging when people climb on it, they all feel exhausted. We can imagine what kind of wisdom and strength was required when the Great Wall was being built then.”
10. In 1908, William Edgar Geil was the first foreigner to explore the whole length of the Wall.
Great Wall of China Facts 11-20:
11. The highest part of the Wall is 6,562 feet above sea level on top of the Huapiling and Bingshanliang mountains in Zhangjiakou City.
12. On average, the width at the top was wide enough for 5 horsemen to ride together, or for 10 people to walk side by side.
13. Juyongguan has a marble structure called “Cloud Terrace”. It is 310 sq meters in total. Under this is a gateway with ancient Buddhist texts and drawings inscribed inside.
14. On April 9, 1977, Margaret Thatcher, the leader of the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, visited the Great Wall.
15. Before the Ming Wall sections were built, the materials that the Wall was built with included mud, timber, and rocks. The Ming Wall introduced bricks and stones, which were made at local kilns.
16. Mao Ze Dong’s famous saying “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man” is inscribed in a rock at Badaling and Juyongguan sections of the Great Wall.
17. Total length of the wall is 5,499 miles (8850 kilometers).
18. The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan at the Yellow Sea to the Gobi Desert's Jiayuguan.
19. On May 27, 1998, Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, visited the Great Wall at Badaling with his wife.
20. Badaling is 7.5 miles long and has 24 watchtowers and 4 wall platforms.
Great Wall of China Facts 21-30:
21. June 28th, 1998, President Bill Clinton (left) visited the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. “The Great Wall here is very beautiful, very grand, more beautiful and grander than what I imagined”.
22. Criminals were sentenced to four years working on the Wall. This sentence is called “chengdan”.
23. In peace time, passes of the Wall were used as meeting points for trading.
24. The Wall was an important protector of the Silk Road – the main avenue of exchange between Eastern and Western cultures.
25. On September 16, 1998, Bertie Ahern, Prime Minister of Ireland visited the Great Wall at Badaling with his wife.
26. When an enemy was spotted, they used smoke signals from the beacons along the Wall during the day and fire by night to alert nearby towers.
27. The first part of the Great Wall that was built with impressive length was the Jiayuguan Great Wall built in 1539 by Jiajing emperor Ming Dynasty. This massive fort was built near the Himalayans.
28. The courtyard at Jiayuguan was shaped as a maze to confuse invaders if they were attacked.
29. Legend has it at Jiayuguan, the architect precisely figured the amount of bricks needed to build the fortress. It was so precise, only one brick was unused and this brick now sits atop the entrance as to bring good luck to travelers. 600 years later, the brick is still there.
30. Beacons were used as watch towers to spot enemies coming from the north. They also were used as a signaling station. When the enemy was spotted, they would ignite the beacon to alert other nearby sections of the Wall.
Great Wall of China Facts 31-40:
31. On August 26, 1981, President Jimmy Carter and his wife visited the Great Wall at Badaling.
32. On December 3, 2002, President Vladimir Putin of Russia visited Badaling. “I feel so amazed by the diligence of the Chinese people, the beauty of scenery and great history.”
33. The first part of the Great Wall to be built was called the Wall of Chua (also called Square City). It was 310 miles long.
34. The Great Wall was started in the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), during the Spring and Autumn periods.
35. On October 24, 1992, Emperor Akihito of Japan (right) visited the Wall.
36. October 14, 1986, Queen Elizabeth II visited the Great Wall.
37. At the Juyongguan section of the Wall, there is a sign which states: “The first magnificent pass under Heaven” above the gate.
38. On December 17, 1992, President Boris Yeltsin of Russia visited the Wall. “This is the greatest project in the world. In other places I have never seen a similar magnificent project.”
39. On February 22, 2002, President George W. Bush visited the Great Wall at Badaling.
40. The Zhou Dynasty had many kingdoms. Each kingdom built its own wall for defensive purposes. After Emperor Qin Shi Huang unified China, he ordered the Walls to be linked up and extended.
Great Wall of China Facts 41-50:
41. On September 15, 2001, President S.R. Nathan of Singapore visited the Great Wall at Badaling.
42. The Wall is mostly made of mud from the plains and rocks from the mountains.
43. The Great Wall is the iconic symbol of China, however, China struggles with how to best manage and protect the Wall while running the mass-marketing development of it. The China Great Wall Society and the International Friends of the Great Wall are devoted to maintaining it.
44. Watchtowers on the Wall were not only used for shooting enemies, they also stored weapons, materials, and accommodated soldiers overnight.
45. On September 13, 2000, President Fernando de la Rua of Argentina visited the Great Wall at Badaling with his wife.
46. Passes are entrances and exits of the Great Wall. “Guan” means “pass” in Chinese, as seen in the ending of ‘Juyongguan’ and other areas with the “guan” ending. There was usually a city at these passes to monitor people going in and out of the city.
47. Prime Minister Koco of Netherlands visited the Great Wall on June 16, 1995.
48. Transport of building materials was mostly carried by the workers and animals.
49. President Roman Herzog of Germany visited the Great Wall at Badaling with his wife in 1996.
50. The final battle fought at the Great Wall was in 1938 during the Sino-Japanese War. Bullet holes can still be seen in the Wall at Gubeikou.
Source: GreatWallofChinaBeijing.com; Wikipedia and various internet sources