The Great Wall of China is the longest and biggest feat of engineering for defense in ancient time. It was built in 7th Century BC, and continuously constructed over a period of 2,000 years. The Great Wall stretches across the vast area of the northern and central parts of China with a length of 50,000 kilometers. The history of the construction of the Great Wall can be traced back to the West Zhou Dynasty (from 1046 to 771 BC). The Zhou Kingdom gave the order to build beacon towers and fortresses in a continuous line, i.e. Fortress Array, to prevent invasion from northern nomadic tribes.
The Great Wall was built based on walls and fortresses. As a military defense, that wall and fortress can be traced back to the later period of Primitive Commune. Given its efficient defense, this style of fortification became a growing trend, even after society had taken the form of the class system. The earliest Great Wall appeared in the Spring and Autumn Period (from 770 to 476 BC). This part of the Great Wall was built by Chu States. In the Warring States Period (from 476 to 211 BC), the feudal princes of Qi, Han, Zhao, Yan, Qin and Zhongshan States respectively raised up walls along their borders, each for their own kingdom’s benefit and security. As a result, walls were distributed in Xihe Prefecture of Wei State, Zhangshui area of Zhao State, the Western area of Zhongshan State, Yi River of Yan States, and Mount Tai of Qi State, which were essentially the embryo of the Great Wall and played an important role in war time.
The Northern nomadic tribes were very good at sudden attacks, and the cavalry and infantry of states could not stop their invasion. They had to construct the Great Wall to enable their guards to protect them. This way the feudal princes had enough troops that could be deployed in defending against a war or merging other states. Until the Qin Dynasty (from 221 to 206 BC) conquered and unified the other six kingdoms, Qing shihuang (King of the State of Qin from 247 to 211 BC) commanded the people to build the walls of all the states joined together and form a line of defense. The seven states’ border walls became the known as the Ten Thousand Li (Chinese Mile) Long Wall.
The Great Wall functioned as a defense against invasion in history. It resisted Huns in the West Han Dynasty (from 202 BC to 8 AD), Mongolian people from the west and Tatars in the Ming Dynasty. The Great Wall played an important role in the late Ming Dynasty and the early Qing Dynasty too. Ethnic minorities were not able to cross the Great Wall due to the limitations of their technology. Thus, they had to look for a way of peaceful coexistence, even to develop trade. Although the Great Wall was built up for fighting, it actually enhanced peace and developed economic enterprise between the warring factions.
In general, the Great Wall in Beijing and Hebei Province has been kept in good condition, and these are popular spots for visitors at home and from abroad.
The sections that are recommended to visit are Badaling, Mutianyu and Jiankong Great Wall in Beijing, Jinshanling and Huangyaguan Great Wall in Hebei Province. Additionally, Jiayuguan Great Wall, situated in Gansu Province is a charming part. Surrounded by vast desert, it is an enchanting section, full of a sense of history.