One spot on my bucket list is definitely the Great Wall of China. Not only is it mentioned in one of my favorite books of all time, 50 Places to See Before You Die & 50 Places That Are a Lot More Fun (What, isn’t that everyone’s favorite book for making travel plans? Psht. Fine. Stick to Frodor’s, although, FYI, they mention the Wall too.), it is also at the epicenter of the plot of The Great Wall. The film still in development, but it will be the weirdest sci-fi thrillers ever made about one of the world wonders upon its release.
I also find it delightful that, for years, people actually believed one of the major components keeping the wall together was sticky rice soup mixed with slaked line and limestone.
Sorry, were you looking fun Great Wall of China facts? I keep giving you fictions. Let’s move on to some nifty facts about the only man-made object visible from space… just kidding, that’s a myth too.
A Quick History of the Great Wall of China
So why is there even a Great Wall? In ancient China, the country was broken down into a lot of little states, all with their own princes and overlords. The Wall was built to section off many of these states. Later, as China began to unify, the Wall grew. Sections continued to be added, combining the different existing sections of the Wall and keeping invaders out.
- The Great Wall of China is the longestman-made object on Earth. One theory on its longevity comes from Peter Noll, author of Secrets of the Great Wall, who believes that the use of soil that was at least 4 inches underground has been the key factor in keeping the wall structurally sound all these years. It insured that no seeds or sprouts could germinate and weaken the structural integrity of the wall.
- The Great Wall is actually split into smaller sections with different names. So if you plan to visit, you’ll want to pick which section you’re most interested in seeing. The most popular and best preserved section of the Wall is Badaling. Other popular sections include Mutianyu, Simatai, Jinshanling and Jiayu Pass. An interesting section of the Wall is Juyongguan Pass. Along with being a former military center, it is also a very picturesque scenic area featuring lovely foliage and a gorgeous mountain background.
- The widest sections of the Wall are close to 30 feet across and the highest point in about 26 feet high. The earliest sections of the Wall were made from stone, wood and dirt.
- One gruesome legend which has even been made into a Chinese movie is the story of Meng Jiangny, whose husband was a builder on the Wall. She went to the Wall looking for him only to find that he had died and was buried in the wall. She began to weep so bitterly that the section of the wall collapsed and revealed her husbands remains.
…and we’re back to fiction again. But, sometimes that’s the best part of a historic site. Fortunately, the Great Wall of China has it all – history, areas of stunning architecture, folklore and aliens (What? Aliens? Seriously, you’ll have to see The Great Wall when it hits the theaters).