Winding its staggering way along over 5,000 miles, the Great Wall of China needs little in the way of introduction. It’s long, seriously long – it would take around 18 months to walk its length.
And while sections have been ravaged over time, it’s been rebuilt, expanded and beautified over time by different dynasties, lacing its way beside the manic metropolis of Beijing, to deserts, mountains and farmland that’s remained unchanged for centuries. Built to protect the Chinese empire, the series of stone fortifications can be explored at any point. Don’t miss a trip to Shanhaiguan though, where the wall meets the Bohai Sea at Laolongtou or the ‘Old Dragon’s Head’.
Great Wall Facts:
- During its construction, the Great Wall was called “the longest cemetery on earth” because so many people died building it. Reportedly, it cost the lives of more than one million people
- Contrary to common belief, the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from the moon without aid. This pervasive myth seems to have started in 1893 in the American-published magazine The Century and then resurfaced in 1932 when Robert Ripley of Ripley’s Believe it Or Not claimed the Great Wall could be seen from the moon—even though space flight was decades away. It is questionable whether the Great Wall can be seen from a close orbit with the unaided eye.
- That the Great Wall is a single, continuous wall built all at once is a myth. In reality, the wall is a discontinuous network of wall segments built by various dynasties to protect China’s northern boundary.
- It is common to hear that the mortar used to bind the stones was made from human bones or that men are buried within the Great Wall to make it stronger. However, the mortar was actually made from rice flour—and no bones, human or otherwise, have ever been found in any of the Great Wall's walls
- The Great Wall of China is also known as the wanli changcheng or Long Wall of 10,000 Li (a li is a measure of distance, approximately 1/3 of a mile). The main wall is around 2,145 miles (3,460 km) long with an extra 1,770 miles (2,860 km) of branches and spurs
Great Wall Reviews
"As a child I became interested in all things China because of a late 70’s TV documentary. The programme followed West Bromwich Albion who became the first British football team to play in China. The players hated it but I was mesmerised. The place that really stood out was the Great Wall. On a rather strained tour of the wall, one of the players, John Trewick, said
'Impressive, isn't it? But once you've seen one wall, you've seen them all!'
My dad, a builder, assured me that this wasn’t the case and tried to quantify to a 9 year old how long it would have taken for him to build such a wall. If it would have taken my dad 1000’s of years I decided that I had to see it…. It took me a good few years to get there and I wasn’t disappointed. The Great Wall stretches for 1000’s of miles, it isn’t continuous and it cannot be seen from space. Parts of it are built from stone, and other parts from packing down clay. I’ve been fortunate enough to walk alongside it with a camel train in the Inner Mongolian desert; I’ve climbed along un-restored, wild parts of the wall where it is easy to imagine being back in the days of the Emperors and visited the tourist centre at Badaling where a never ending supply of Chinese tourists flock to see one of their countries’ great treasures. The Great Wall is exactly what it says on the tin. It is great and it is a wall, however I can honestly say that even when you have seen one part of the Great Wall you haven’t seen it all"
Simon Grove - Head of Product
How long does it take to walk the Great Wall of China? Our 10-day Walk the Great Wall
trip includes some of the most spectacular sections of the wall. Or why not extend your trip to 12 days and add on a visit to the impressive walled city of Xi'an on our Great Wall extension tour