China photos – The Great Wall

Posted by jerry on December 21st, 2004 — Posted in History, Journal, Travel

We couldn’t go to China and not see the Great Wall – what an amazing structure!

Great Wall - China

The wall was completed during the Qin dynasty (221-207BC) although several sections predate this period. It extends more than 6500 km from Shanhaiguan in the east to Jiayuguan in the Gobi Desert to the west. The wall is actually several walls that were joined together under the direction of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. It was built to keep the Mongolians out (notably Genghis Khan). While it failed dismally as a defensive structure, it had what these days might be called ‘undocumented features’ or unintended consequences. When the wall was built, China was far from being a unified country, and each sub-kingdom had its own reasons for maintaining their bit of the wall.

Great Wall - China

The issue was geography – many people were kept separate by the sharp ridges of mountain ranges – all but impassable to any but the most intrepid donkey rider. Then along comes the wall, hugging the razor-sharp ridge-lines and providing, perhaps for the first time a trafficable path between provinces. As a result, the wall became a trading highway which did more than any decree to unify the country!

Great Wall - China

The Wall provided a network facilitating communication between people divided by a common language. Ironically the wall continues that tradition by providing a secure elevated structure on which to attach mobile phone repeater links!

Great Wall - China

The Badaling section of the wall is one of the steeper sections, but it affords a terrific view once you start to gain altitude along the 2000+steps

Great Wall - China

One interesting custom we encountered was that of lovers bringing a padlock – often engraved with their names – and locking the padlock to a chain provided for the purpose on the Great Wall, to symbolise the enduring nature of their love. Apparently it is not just the wall, but mountains too are favoured for this practice!

Great Wall - China

And as you near the top you can have a certificate signed to mark your climb. This was all the certificate I needed:

Great Wall - China

The wall is certainly an imposing structure and you can just imagine what resources it took to build it – in cost, building material, and in lives. It is well worth a visit!

Cheers
Jerry

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