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  • Writer's pictureCatrina Hull

7 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About the Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China
photo: Robin Zebrowski via Flickr
It's huge and it's in China...but what else do you know about the Great Wall?

Keep reading to learn more!

1. It's the world's largest man-made structure.

Great Wall of China
Photo: Antoine Gady via Flickr

Depending on what study you look at, the Great Wall spans 5,500 - 13,171 miles across China. In either case, it is quite the architectural feat!

2. It's beginnings date back to as early as the 7th century B.C.

Great Wall of China
Photo: Guldem Ustun via Flickr

Before China was unified under one emperor, different Chinese states built barriers/walls to keep their neighboring Chinese states out. When Qin Shi Huang became the 1st emperor over all of China in 221 B.C. he got rid of the walls that divided his newly united empire and added onto area along the Northern border to protect against Nomads.

3. 100's of thousands of soldiers and forced labor built the walls.

Great Wall of China
Photo: Travis Wise via Flickr

The Qin Dynasty was a very short dynasty, but the emperor had a high priority building this wall to protect from the neighboring and nomadic invaders.

4. Multiple dynasties worked on the wall.

Great Wall of China
Photo: Robin Zebrowski via Flickr

The Qin Dynasty saw the start of the wall. The Han Dynasty, which came after the Qin Dynasty, (as well as other dynasties after the Han) kept working on the wall. The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.) was the largest contributor to the Great Wall that we see today.

5. The Ming Dynasty was the 1st to use brick and stone on the wall.

Great Wall
Photo: Guldem Ustun via Flickr

Apparently, the wall was originally built using rammed earth. (Rammed earth is basically just what it sounds like: mud, sand, gravel, clay, etc.) Rammed earth was more prone to decay, and the Ming Dynasty found brick and stone to be a better solution for building a wall to keep the Mongol and Manchu invaders out.

6. The Great Wall isn't just a wall.

Great Wall
Photo: Robin Zebrowski via Flickr

It is a system of walls, fortresses, barracks, signal towers, gates, elevated roadways. It was built with a purpose: keep invaders and nomads out. A wall in and of itself wouldn't be enough to accomplish this task. In order to effectively do that, there had to be a full defense. The Great Wall allowed the quick movement of soldiers. It also made it easier for couriers to travel faster.

7. You can't actually see the Great Wall from space.

Great Wall
Photo: C.K. NG via Flickr

At least not with the naked eye. Contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall of China is not the only man-made structure you can see from space. In fact, without help from some sort of tele lens, it is impossible to see it. Astronauts from several countries have stated that the Great Wall's easy visibility from space is just a myth.



TIME Magazine - Man Made Wonders




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