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INFO VINE * 50 Amazing Facts About the Great Wall of China *

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INFO VINE *  50 Amazing Facts About the Great Wall of China * Empty INFO VINE * 50 Amazing Facts About the Great Wall of China *

Post by Paul Thu 25 Jan 2024, 8:00 am

50 Amazing Facts About the Great Wall of China






INFO VINE *  50 Amazing Facts About the Great Wall of China * A276047f698b72f982bc40c1252fbb00
[Photo Courtesy: Lasgar The great wall of chine / wikimediacommons.com ]
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The Great Wall of China was always left people in awe at first sight. It was a feat no one thought possible and yet still stands to this day. There are a lot of misconceptions and facts that to this day many people are unaware of. Reading through these slides will make you want to visit the Great Wall of China, however, you'll be glad you knew these facts before getting there. 





It Represents the Longest Feat of Human Engineering


This is basically the main reason why so many architects and engineers all over the world praise the Great Wall of China, to the point where many consider it the greatest creation in history.


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[Photo Courtesy: ancient great wall / wikimediacommons.com ]


After all, we’re talking about an incredible construction that has a total length of 13,170.70 miles, which is equal to half the length of the Equator. This way, the monument is simply a miracle in terms of construction, and a historic achievement that many believe it will be impossible to make again.


It was Originally a Line of Defense


The reason why the Great Wall of China was created was simply for military and security reasons, considering that such a structure would set the red line for outsiders or invaders, and it would also make it easier for the Chinese warriors to determine the enemy’s approach.


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[Photo Courtesy: rock and building / wikimediacommons.com ]


In fact, different empires during that time also took similar steps in terms of security. Apparently, most other empires began doing it after noticing the effectiveness of the Great Wall of China, but none could ever match it.  


 It’s Now a World Heritage Site


This should not be a surprise considering the way the world has connected so much over the last few decades and the way the Great Wall of China is simply a mesmerizing monument that almost every single person wants to visit.


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall / Pixabay]


Along with the Eiffel Tower in France or the Taj Mahal in India, the Great Wall of China is simply one of the most recognizable milestones of the human race, to the point of being considered a world heritage site.


It’s China’s Main Symbol


China has always been one of the most interesting countries in history, not only because of its mesmerizing culture or a history filled with hundreds of episodes that have set a turning point not only in Asia but also all over the world.


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall 1888 / freeimageslive.com ]


Among the different elements that have been characterizing China over the last few centuries, the Great Wall is definitely the most notorious considering that it has been around for China’s most important moments and it still maintains its majesty today.


The Great Wall has Relics from the Ming Dynasty


Another mind-blowing element about this monument is the fact that today’s wall comprises relics from the legendary Ming Dynasty, which lasted from the year 1368 to the year 1644. This way, in addition to the historic elements that this monument contains, the fact that it shows some of the most characteristic details about this dynasty makes it a piece of art that everyone should visit.


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[Photo Courtesy: Ming Dynasty / wikimediacommons.com ]


Moreover, it shows that despite the political changes that the country has been experiencing throughout its history, it recognizes the importance of some moments such as the Ming Dynasty.


It has an Impressive Height


This is another major detail that explains why so many architects and engineers believe that the Great Wall of China is an outstanding piece of construction. After all, it is one of the highest monuments ever made and it expands symmetrically, which have always been two elements very difficult to combine. 


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall / pixabay]


This way, the average height of the walls is 20 to 23 feet. Of course, these numbers put the Great Wall of China in a very interesting position among the world’s highest monuments if you take into consideration that the highest is 46 feet.


It has Different Altitudes


Believe it or not, the altitudes of the walls vary significantly considering the way the monument expands. This way, the highest point of the Great Wall of China is located in Huanglouyuan, a very famous area in the northwest suburb of capital Beijing, with an incredible elevation of 4,722 feet.


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[Photo Courtesy: The Great Wall / Ivan Herman]


The different altitudes make this monument a very eclectic one, considering that from Huanglouyuan, it expands to Laolungtou in the Hebei region, which is just above sea level, being the lowest point.


The Great Wall has Nearly 3 Millennia Existing


What makes this fact so incredibly mind-blowing is that almost every single major monument that the world has known was created after the Great Wall of China. This way, many historians consider it the first significant monument ever created.


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[Photo Courtesy: Road Through / wikimediacommons.com ]


While it may seem quite difficult to believe, the Great Wall of China was built 2,700 years ago, meaning that it was created before the existence of Jesus Christ, the Roman Empire, the Ottoman empire, or even Christopher Columbus’ journey to the new world.


A Million Workers Were Part of its Construction


One of the elements that many historians tend to take into consideration to analyze the greatness of certain monuments is the number of people involved in its construction. Considering that this is the detail that highlights how difficult it was to build at its time.


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[Photo Courtesy: Beautiful Wall / wikimediacommons.com ]


While many believe that the Taj Mahal’s example is quite interesting because of the fact that it had almost 30,000 people involved in its construction, the case of the Great Wall of China is simply astonishing since Chinese authorities hired one million people.


It Doesn’t Have One Single Location


When analyzing the different monuments that have surprised humanity over the last few decades, the common denominator is that each one of these is located in one specific place. For example, the Eiffel Tower is located in France's capital Paris, while the Taj Mahal is located in the Indian city of Agra and the Christ the Redeemer is located in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.


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[Photo Courtesy: Scenic Photo / Public Domain Archive]


The case of the Great Wall of China is quite interesting since it doesn’t have a single location. After all, it expands through 15 different regions of the country.


A Third of the Monument has already Disappeared


While many people believe this is always an unexpected situation, the truth is that architects and engineers agree that after so much time, it is actually normal that certain monuments start losing some of their parts.


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[Photo Courtesy: Missing wall / Ivan Herman]


Unfortunately, this is exactly the case of the Great Wall of China, which has already lost a third of its walls. Of course, even when many believe we could be approaching the moment when the monument will simply disappear, the truth is that it is quite amazing that it has only lost a third of the walls. After all, we’re talking about a monument that was created 2,700 years ago.


It attracts 50 Million Visitors per Year


This simply cannot be considered a surprise if you take into consideration that the Great Wall of China is definitely the most famous symbol of this country.
This monument attracts 50 million visitors every single year, which represents the most important aspect of the revenue that the country makes with tourism.


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Photo Courtesy: Tourist Attraction / China International Travel ]


A very peculiar detail about this situation is that this attraction makes visitors travel to different parts of China, considering that the Great Wall is not located in one specific city or town. 


Almost 500 Head of States Have Visited the Monument


If you take into consideration that China is one of the most powerful countries in the world, it is no surprise that many heads of state have visited this monument. After all, China has become the second most powerful economy in the world, and presidents and prime ministers travel to the Asian nation every single month for political reasons.


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[Photo Courtesy: President Richard Nixon at the Great Wall / US National Archives]


According to different reports, 460 heads of state from almost every single nation around the world have visited the Great Wall of China so far.


Its last Construction was in 1878


The beauty of the Great Wall of China is that, just as some of the greatest creations ever made by the human race, it went through numerous reforms. After all, we’re talking about a period of time in which the country has experienced different wars, revolutions, and even environmental issues that have affected the monument.


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[Photo Courtesy: New walls / Picryl]


The last reform ever experienced by this monument was in the year 1878, meaning that the Great Wall hasn’t been “touched” for more than a century.


The Monument is Called the Longest Cemetery in the World


As mentioned earlier, one million people took part in the construction process of the Great Wall of China for almost three millennia. The creation of this monument was not only quite difficult because of its architecture and the way it expanded through 15 different regions of the country.


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[Photo Courtesy: Perth Cemetery / wikimediacommons.com ]


In addition to these elements, what made the creation of this monument something so difficult to achieve was the environmental conditions of several areas, which cost the lives of 400,000 builders.
And why it is called the Longest Cemetery in the World? Because most of the bodies were buried in the wall.


It wasn’t Built under the Huang Era


One of the greatest misconceptions about the Great Wall of China is that its creation took place under the order of the famous Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Many believe the reason behind this mistake is the fact that the plans for building this monument did happen during this era. 


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[Photo Courtesy: The Forbidden City in Huang Era / wikimediacommons.com ]


However, the truth is that the first constructions of the Great Wall of China took place during the Spring and Autumn period. In fact, different historians agree that the first fortifications were built by the Chu State.


It’s a Collection of Walls


Even when this monument has the peculiarity of expanding through 15 different regions of the country, including its capital Beijing, another misconception that many people have is that the Great Wall of China is just a single and long wall.


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall / Pixabay]


Far from it, this monument is actually the combination of different walls, created in different periods of the country’s history to protect itself from outside enemies. In fact, there are some areas where the wall doubles or even triples itself.


It was Planned Because of a Rumor


As mentioned above, it was Emperor Qi Shi Huang who planned the creation of the Great Wall of China. However, what has been remained as a real mystery has been the main reason why he decided on such a massive construction.


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[Photo Courtesy: Emperor Qi Shi Huang / wikimediacommons.com ]


According to numerous historians, the emperor took this decision because a necromancer he sent to travel through Asia to find the key to immortality, told him that he heard rumors about the northern regions wanting to oust him from power and kill him.


Over 20 Dynasties and States Continued the Monument’s Construction


Even though the emperor wasn’t the person who started the construction of this monument, history should definitely give him some credit. After all, we’re talking not only about one of the greatest constructions in history, but also a monument that almost every single Chinese leader saw the importance of continuing constructing and reforming. 


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[Photo Courtesy: Walking the Great Wall / Picryl ]


This way, more than 20 different dynasties and states in the country had undertaken the construction of the walls, section by section. After all, the leaders of each of these periods also saw the security advantages that the Great Wall would represent for their rules.


Most Sections are Now Tourist Resorts


Considering that times have changed and the Great Wall of China has become the country’s greatest attraction for tourist, authorities came up with the most pragmatic idea: to turn different parts of the monument into tourist resorts, in order to increase the attractive element for visitors and increase revenues.


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[Photo Courtesy: Site Seers at the Wall / Picryl]


The sections that have been renovated are those located in Beijing, Hebei, and Gansu. Naturally, a very distinctive element about each of these sections is the fact that it was created between 400 and 600 years ago.


Badaling is the most famous Section


Given the fact that this monument is a combination of walls, it was obvious that one of its sections would become the most famous and attractive for tourists.


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Photo Courtesy:


The most famous is definitely the one in Bandaling, which is located 40 miles northwest of the capital Beijing. After all, this section has the best-preserved walls, consummate facilities, and even an astonishing scenery. In fact, this is the earliest section open to visitors and is the one with the greatest international reputation.


There’s no other Tourist Resort


This is actually a very surprising fact considering that the strategy of turning some sections into tourist resorts have been an absolute success, to the point where the attendance has been increasing over the last few years.


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[Photo Courtesy: Badaling Tourist / wikimediacommons.com ]


However, local authorities have decided not to renovate the vast majority of the Great Wall’s sections, leaving the Badaling as the only one that has been fully reformed to turn it into something similar to the Eiffel tower or even the Pisa tower in Italy.


It was one of the Greatest Fortifications in History


Historical facts show that the Great Wall of China was simply one of the most spectacular fortifications, considering that it consisted of solid trenches for blocking enemies, overlapping walls, watchtowers, and beacon towers for delivering signals and enhance communication between the troops.


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[Photo Courtesy: MIng Dynasty Great Wall / wikimediacommons.com ]


Moreover, the Great Wall of China had incredible fortresses for head-on battles between soldiers, and even some barracks to accommodate soldiers. These elements turned it into an absolute warfare innovation at that time, to the point where many other empires tried to replicate it and failed.


It wasn’t Built To Fight Off the Mongols


The most famous misconception about the Great Wall of China is definitely the myth that it was created in order to defend the country from Genghis Kahn and the Mongols.


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[Photo Courtesy: Genghis Kahn / wikimediacommons.com ]


The monument’s construction commenced in the 7th century Before Christ and was finally linked up to a defensive line much earlier before the rise of the Mongols and their expansionist era.
As mentioned earlier, the original reason was simply to defend against the northern nomadic tribes that were living in today’s Mongolia and north China.


Some States Built Sections to Defend from its Neighbors


When the Great Wall of China’s construction commenced, many states thought it was impossible for this construction to turn into the solid fortification it eventually became. 


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall / Swain Destinations


However, once everyone saw its effectiveness, some states decided to build more sections, but the purposes weren’t to defend themselves from the northern tribes.
Far from it, these states built these sections to prevent their neighboring states from entering their cities. After all, China’s territorial cohesion wasn’t the same as the one we can see now.


Some Invaders Managed to Trespass It


The Great Wall of China became such a difficult barrier to overcome and such an extraordinary fortification, that historians concluded it had a psychological impact on those who were trying to overthrow the central Chinese Empire. In fact, this situation took place for thousands of years.


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[Photo Courtesy: Wall of China Broken / Pixabay]


With time, however, there were some cases in where a group of warriors managed to overcome the difficulties of this fortification and then trespass it, in order to set a turning point in the history of this country.


Genghis Kahn and his Warriors Breached the Great Wall


One of the most famous cases of a group of invaders that managed to beat the Chinese warriors and then breach the Great Wall of China is definitely one of the legendary Genghis Kahn and his army.

After one of the bloodiest and longest battles, the Mongols managed to breach the Great Wall of China and subjugated the northern and central regions of this country for almost 100 years.


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[Photo Courtesy: War on the Wall / wikimediacommons.com ]


Experts confirmed Kahn studied the different attempts made by other groups of invaders to breach the fortification for years.


The Manchus also Breached the Great Wall


Another famous case of a group of invaders that managed to breach this fortification and impose its rule in the country is the one of the Manchus in the year 1644 when they penetrated the section of the Great Wall located in Shanhaiguan.

According to numerous historians, this situation took place in one of the weakest moments of the Ming Dynasty, to the point where Chinese soldiers’ power wasn’t as great as before.


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[Photo Courtesy: Manchus Warrior / wikimediacommons.com ]


The victory of the Manchus and their incursion in central China represented the collapse of the Ming Dynasty.


It can’t be seen from Space


Another famous misconception regarding the Great Wall of China is that it can be seen from space. This rumor became quite famous in the 18th and 19th centuries when astronomy became popular among the so-called intellectual establishment.

The rumor in question was that if the human race ever reached the moon, the monument would be seen from that position. 


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[Photo Courtesy: View From Space / Pixy.org]


Far from it, once the technology was developed enough to make the human race travel through space, it was obviously confirmed that the Great Wall of China was basically invisible from that position.


Some Sections Could Disappear in Three Decades


Considering that several sections of the Great Wall haven’t been reformed or renovated, authorities have already said some of these could disappear. In fact, as previously mentioned, a third of this monument is already inexistent.


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall Nature / pixabay ]


According to a report from UNESCO, the biggest threat that these sections are facing are not only environmental issues but also vandalism. However, the most concerning aspect of the UNESCO report is that it says a large portion of these sections could disappear completely in a matter of 32 years.


It was Mostly Destroyed During the Cultural Revolution


Mao’s Cultural Revolution was also one of the most important moments in the country’s history since it represented the turning point that explains China’s current political system.


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[Photo Courtesy: Wall Down / wikimediacommons.com ]


However, there were several dark moments. And while we all know the vast majority of these, one of the less-known was the destruction of the Great Wall. Basically, the reason behind this situation was that people needed to make way for infrastructure construction, so they simply destroyed several sections of the Great Wall in order to use the rest as construction material.


People Used its Bricks to Build Houses


Considering the massive poverty rate and the economic crisis that China experienced during the Cultural Revolution, there were several cases where people went in groups to some of the sections to destroy it and then use the bricks of the monument to build civilian houses and sometimes even farms.


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall Bricks / Picryl]


In fact, different reports point out some of these cases were perpetrated by Chinese soldiers, sometimes being ordered by their own superiors or local politicians in order to build collective agriculture centers in the rural areas.


People Sold its Bricks


Soon before the economic boom that China experienced over the last few decades, to the point of reaching the second place of the nation with the biggest economic power, the country was experiencing a severe economic crisis in its rural areas during the 1980s and part of the 1990s.


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall Tourist Stop / flickr]


The greatest example of this economic crisis was the malnourishment of millions of people, and how they literally destroyed some parts of the Great Wall in order to sell its bricks to tourists. Naturally, China’s tourism wasn’t so developed as it is now.


Regulations on the Wall’s Conservation started in 2006


While the vandalism against the Great Wall of China in numerous regions started to disappear since the beginning of the 21st Century, there wasn’t an official regulation that somehow protected the monument and forbids people from vandalizing the monument or use its materials for economic or construction matters.


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[Photo Courtesy: Magnificent View / wikimediacommons.com ]


However, the Chinese government imposed several regulations on the Great Wall’s conservation in the year 2006, after noticing the incredible amount of money it created for the country with foreign tourists every single year.


Prisoners were forced to be part of its Construction


When the construction of the Great Wall commenced, rumors spread across the country that this was a very ambitious work that could kill many people in the process. There were moments in which authorities had to hire soldiers since many workers and architects didn’t want to take part in this project.


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[Photo Courtesy: Macmillan Education India / YouTube


However, the solution that Chinese leaders found during Han and Qin Dynasties was simply to force prisoners and the most dangerous criminals to be part of the monument’s construction. Most of these people died in the process.


It was one of the Stronger Fortifications in China


While the Great Wall was a massive fortification that was eventually considered one of the greatest in human history, the truth is that there were some others of its kind in China that were also quite impressive.


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[Photo Courtesy: World Square / wikimediacommons.com ]


During the Ming Dynasty, authorities created a well-designed array of fortifications to defend the dynasty from foreign powers. Some of these incredible fortifications included the Three Outer Passes of Pianguan, Ningwu, and Yanmen, and especially the Three Inner Passes of Daoma, Ziking, and Juyong.


The Wall isn’t Made of Corpses


Because of this situation, many people around the world spread the false rumor that the Great Wall of China had a lot of body parts in its material, considering the 400,000 people that died creating it for three millennia.


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall / Snappygoat.com


The rumor began in Europe during the 18th Century, pointing out that the Great Wall of China was the “Wall of the Dead,” considering the forced labor and the number of people who died. And while the rumor has almost entirely disappeared, because of the simple fact that it isn’t true, it remained quite popular in some countries until the 1970s.


Meng Jiangnu’s History Remains a Mystery


The most famous legend about the Great Wall of China is the one of Meng Jiangnu and her husband Fan Xiliang. According to history, he was forcibly recruited to be part of the monument’s construction and died in the process, being buried inside the wall. Jiangnu missed him so much that she went to the wall just to be notified about his death. She cried for days and nights until the wall collapsed and showed her the bones of her husband.


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[Photo Courtesy: Meng Jiangnu / Top China Travel]


While many people have considered this legend as true history, there’s no document that proves its veracity.


The First Western Document of Great was made in the 4th Century


According to different reports, the first official description and mention of the Great Wall of China in a Western nation were made in the 4th Century in Rome, Italy. However, since the Ming Dynasty, the monument started to get so much notoriety that Portuguese authorities began to study the construction of this fortification with great admiration.


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[Photo Courtesy: Mutianyu Great Wall / Pixabay]


In a Portuguese writer’s book called “1562 Asia,” the author described the Great Wall as a long and solid fortification that expanded through numerous territories with a heavy garrison. 


The Mortar Used to Build the Wall was Unique


Numerous historians have been pointing out over the last few decades that the building materials of the walls included bricks, stones, rammed earth, and especially the different types of rocks located in the 15 regions of China where the monument expands.


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall Used / Pixy.org]


However, the incredible detail is that the mortar that was used was totally different from the typical mixture of cement and sand that we know. Believe it or not, the mortar used to build the Great Wall of China was quite unique since it included glutinous rice flour.


The Wall has Shaped the Chinese Identity in Different Periods


The significance that the Great Wall of China has been representing for the Chinese society has been changing throughout the different periods that passed since the first years of its construction until its official culmination.


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall Free Image / Pixy.org]


In the beginning, the monument represented the division between the Chinese and the barbarians. Then it represented a reminder of the country’s cultural and geographical unity when the Ming Dynasty was experiencing its weakest moment. Nowadays, the Great Wall represents the main symbol of China’s evolution in geopolitical and economic terms.


Chinese Authorities Started to Use the Term “Great” in the 1980s


Believe it or not, the “Great Wall of China” is nothing more than a Western phrase to describe this monument. After all, Chinese authorities and Chinese society have been calling it “The Wall of China” or simply “The Wall” for centuries.


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[Photo Courtesy: The Great Tower / wikimediacommons.com ]


However, after Mao’s death and the rise of Deng Xiaoping, his government started to use the term “Great” to describe the monument. This situation started to take place in the 1980s when he started to open China to the Western world and started to impose a new economic system.


The Section that Appears in Most Pictures is the Jiankou


One of the biggest peculiarities about the Great Wall of China is that the most famous pictures that anyone will find on the internet or in any TV program were taken in one specific section of the monument.


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[Photo Courtesy: Jiankou / Flickr]


The section in question is the Jiankou, which is known for being steep and winding. In fact, many tourists believe these elements make it a little bit uncomfortable for them to visit it. However, numerous photographers have been pointing out that the sun's position in many periods of the year gives it a colorful appearance that makes this section perfect to be photographed.


There’s a Section with Bullet Holes


Considering that the Great Wall of China has been experiencing all types of armed conflicts from its construction until its culmination, there are several parts that show the violence of war in the most gruesome manner.


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[Photo Courtesy: Wall War / Top Tenz]


The greatest example is definitely the one of the Gubeikou Section, which literally has several bullet holes in it, representing the greatest evidence of the last armed conflict that took place at that part of the monument.

While it remains unclear which armed conflict caused these holes, most experts believe this could have happened during Mao’s Cultural Revolution.


It’s Not a Continuous Line


Another significant reason why many consider the Great Wall of China an architectural miracle is the fact that its expansion through the 15 different regions of the country wasn’t made through a continuous line like many would think.


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[Photo Courtesy: The Great Wall / Pixabay]


In fact, the Great Wall of China expands through side walls, parallel walls, circular walls, and even some sections without any wall at all considering that rivers and mountains form a barrier.
Basically, this is the reason why it took so long to build it at that time.


People Brought Roosters to the Monument to Honor the Dead


Considering that many people that were part of the construction of the Great Wall were dying, some of their grieving family members feared that their spirits would be trapped within the structure and fail to reach eternal rest. Given this situation, these family members tried to grant them spiritual emancipation, by crossing over the monument with a rooster in tow.


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[Photo Courtesy: Image by Franck Barske from Pixabay ]


In China and other nations in Asia, this tradition was believed to help guide a soul away from certain fortifications.


Ancient Chinese Poems Predicted the Construction of this Wall


One of the most mind-blowing facts about the Great Wall of China is that a famous collection of Ancient Chinese poems named The Shijing predicted the creation of the monument. What’s even more astonishing is that this collection of poems was written two centuries before the beginning of the wall’s construction.


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[Photo Courtesy: The Shijing / wikimediacommons.com ]


One of the poems pointed out that “in any part of the future,” a Chinese king would “inevitably” create a defensive barrier to fend off military invaders.


The Great Wall Pays Tribute to China’s Historical Figures


Another incredible aspect of the Great Wall is that it pays tribute to some of the most iconic and mythological figures of China’s history in different parts with shrines and drawings.


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[Photo Courtesy: Guan Yu / wikimediacommons.com ]


In addition to Buddhism’s Tiangwang, a famous case is the one of Guan Yu, who was known for being one of the bravest Chinese generals in the third century, who fought in different wars during the Han Dynasty. He is honored in the wall with drawings of large temples that symbolize his bravery during battles.


New Sections Are Still Being Discovered


Another element that makes this monument so amazing is that some of its previously unknown stretches were discovered as recently as 2012. In fact, archaeologists located in the 1990s some sections in the northern regions that no one knew about. These discoveries represented a historic moment since these sections were located in an area that used to be the border with Genghis Kahn’s Mongolia.


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[Photo Courtesy: Over Growth / wikimediacommons.com ]


What’s even more incredible is that experts assure there are several sections that haven’t been discovered yet.


The Great Wall Had Different Names Throughout History


While almost every single nation on earth calls the monument by the name of “The Great Wall of China,” the truth is this was quite different until recently.


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[Photo Courtesy: Great Wall of China at Juyongguan / wikimediacommons.com ]


While “The Great Wall of China” was the name used in the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Germany; the rest of the Western nations actually called the monument “The Chinese Wall.”

In China and Asia, the monument was known as “The 10,000-Li-Long Wall,” or “The Long Wall of 10,000 Li” for centuries.
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