One of the most popular, interesting, historic, and attractive UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Great Wall of China has an estimated total length of 8,851.8 kilometers. The wall was created several centuries and many historians agree that three million Chinese people died while building the infrastructure. Learning when was the Great Wall of China built is essential to improve people’s knowledge and understanding of world history. Below are the important events related to the creation of this popular and splendid tourist spot in China.
Development of the Great Wall of China
The construction of the Great Wall of China started during the 5th century B.C. For several centuries, different dynasties began the construction of several walls to mark and protect their borders. During the 16th century, the structures were finished and some of the northern regions of the country were secured and protected from foreign attacks. To unite all the regions of China, Qin Shi Huang, leader of the Qin Dynasty proposed the destruction of the walls in 221 B.C. However, after some time, Qin Shi Huang ordered the people to connect all the walls to secure them from possible attacks from the Xiongnu people. At this time, the technologies that can be used in the rebuilding of the walls were limited so the structures are not strong enough to stand and last for several years. Years passed and some portions of the walls have been eroded and destroyed.
When Was the Great Wall of China Finished?
The answer to this question depends on which portion of the Great Wall is being referred to. The Great Wall of China is actually a series of walls built over many dynasties that spanned thousands of years.
After uniting the warring kingdoms in China in 221 BC, Emperor Qin Shi Huang decreed that the existing sections of several walls that were built from the 8th century to the 3rd century BC by these warring kingdoms be extended and expanded to protect against the northern Xiongnu empire located in present-day Mongolia. This structure, which became the first contiguous portion of the Great Wall, was finished in nine years during the reign of Emperor Qin Shi Huang from 221 to 206 BC. Further west, another portion parallel to the first wall was built during the Han Dynasty from 206 BC to 220 AC. Succeeding dynasties built the other portions to fend off the Mongols in 1368 and Manchu invaders in 1644.
The Great Wall of China stretches for 6,400 kilometers from as far north as modern-day Russia to as far east to what is now Pyongyang in North Korea up to the Xinjiang province in modern-day China. The Chinese name of this magnificent structure, which can be translated to “Infinitely Long Wall,” has also been often referred to as “The Long Graveyard” because of the number of people who perished building it. Myth has it that as many as several millions of people are buried underneath the walls. While interesting, this myth was later proven false by subsequent research.
Archers were the primary defense of the Great Wall of China. But because of its sheer size, it was physically and economically impossible to keep the Great Wall of China perpetually manned, so sentries were placed along strategic portions of the wall to warn against impending invaders. In case of attack, watchtowers located at intervals provided safe shelter for sentries and some soldiers while battlements with wide slits on the inside and narrow slits on the outside allow archers a wide-angle shot.
To be sure, this huge structure could not repel a determined enemy and prevent him from marching into China as history has shown that invaders have broken through vulnerable portions of the wall such as the gates. Despite its weaknesses, the Great Wall has at least served its purpose by slowing down the invaders and provided ample warning that bought the Chinese Empire some precious time to prepare for war.
Other Relevant Information About the Great Wall of China
The Ming Dynasty introduced the concept behind the repair and redevelopment of the Great Wall of China in 1449. To make the structure stronger, the dynasty used stones and bricks to build the wall. Other materials that were used are lime and tiles. Throughout the end of the dynasty, the structure helped the Chinese people survived attacks from Manchus.
Some parts of the Great Wall of China were damaged by sandstorms. In addition, the height of the structure was decreased from above five meters to not more than two meters. Even the watchtowers that characterize the walls have disappeared. The western portions of the structure are also prone to erosion since these are made from mud.
Some of the parts of the structure that were commonly visited by tourists are the Juyongguan pass, Jiayuguan pass and the Pass of Shanhaiguan. Other than these, many tourists in Beijing, China visit the Mutianyu Great Wall as well as the Ming Great Wall.