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'The Piano Guys' scales the Great Wall for video shoot

Internet sensation, the Piano Guys are in China. The Utah-based group took some precious time off their Asian tour in Singapore and Malaysia to fulfil their China dream - shooting a music video on the Great Wall of China...

September 16, 2013
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Great Wall Forest Festival kicks off

The 2013 Yanqing Great Wall Forest Festival, the fourth edition of its kind, was held from August 24 to August 25 in the Tanglewood Music Valley at the foot of the Great Wall Badaling Section in Beijing's Yanqing County...

August 29, 2013
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Jet Team above the Great Wall

Aircraft of Breitling Jet Team, a famous European aerobatic team, perform above the Great Wall of the Jiayuguan Pass in northwest China's Gansu Province, Aug. 13, 2013...

August 16, 2013
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Unique section of the Great Wall draws in visitors

As people all know what the Great Wall looks like but did you know that some of it is built over water? The Jiumenkou section of the wall in Liaoning Province in North East China is famous for just that...

  August 09, 2013
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FAQ about the Great Wall of China

Qin Shi-huang

Who first built the Great Wall?

The First Great Wall was ordered built in 214 BC by Qin Shi Huang – the first Emperor in China after he had unified the whole country for the first time. The wall was designed to stop raids by the nomadic tribes like Xiongnu from the north. It is said that the general Meng Tian used 300, 000 labor forces and spent 10 years completing the 5000-km-long defense system in North China.

What was the purpose of building the Great Wall?

Basically we say the Great Wall was an efficient defensive system to protecting agriculture and resisting cavalry of the Huns, Mongols and other nomadic tribes from the north of China.

At the same time, the Great Wall was also a dividing line for two different cultures at each side of it: Agricultural and Nomadic civilizations. For generations, the Chinese people have lived on their fertile land. Ancient China was ruled by emperors who kept order and maintained harmony and stability, hence China prospered and Chinese culture flourished.

The nomadic tribes living in the north of China led a different life style. Their habitat was on the dry plateau and steppe where there was insufficient rainfall to grow crops, they moved from place to place grazing sheep and trading horses for food and clothing. They were very skilled at hunting and fighting.

the Great Wall The nomadic tribes, such as the Huns and Mongols, traded horses to their Chinese neighbors for things they could not produce themselves such as grain, silk and iron.

The great differences between the two cultures often led to conflict. When the nomads could not get what they wanted by trading, they would steal and plunder from the Chinese to get what they wanted. To keep the nomadic invaders out of their territory, the Chinese emperors ordered to build the mammoth defense project from the East to West to block the raids of the enemies.

How long is the Great Wall?

A very hard to answer question. During different dynasties, the Great Wall was built, rebuilt and extended. Here below are the some helpful stats for the Qin, Han and Ming Great Wall, all the three dynasties launched large-scale construction project to the Great Wall:

  1. The Great Wall of Qin Dynasty: >5000 km, which starts from Linyao of Gansu Province to the east of Liaoning Province.
  2. The Great Wall of Han Dynasty: >10,000 km, which starts from the east of Liaoning Province to Lop Nur in the southeastern part of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
  3. The Great Wall of Ming Dynasty: 6300 km (3915 miles), which streches from Hu Hill (Tiger Hill) by Yalu River (Liaoning Province’s cross-border river with North Korea) to Jiayuguan of Guangsu Province.
the Great Wall

What was the material building the Great Wall?

At the beginning the wall (especially in Qin and Han Dynasty) was made mostly from dirt, stones, and wood. The workers compressed huge piles of soil, leaves, hay, and mud into a wall. In the following dynasties, the Chinese changed from an earthen wall only to a wall that was coated by stones, bricks, and granite blocks, making a neat, sturdy long-lasting wall.

the Great Wall

During the Ming Dynasty, watch-towers were turned into elaborate structures with tile patterns circling the doorways. Bricks were heavily used in many areas of the wall, as were materials such as tiles, lime, and stone. The size and weight of the bricks made them easier to work with than earth and stone, so construction quickened. Additionally, bricks could bear more weight and endure better than rammed earth. Stone can hold under its own weight better than brick, but is more difficult to use. Consequently, stones cut in rectangular shapeswere used for the foundation, inner and outer brims, and gateways of the wall.

Altogether, one hundred and eighty million cubic meters of packed earth and sixty million cubic meters of bricks were used in constructing the wall. Valencia says, "The amount of earth, stone, and brickwork in its construction is more than enough to build a wall one meter thick and five meters high around the equator."

How were the messages sent along the wall?

How were the messages sent along the wall?

If the enemies attacked, the soldiers stationed in the towers lit fires and set off smoke to signal to the next tower. If it was a daytime attack, they lit smoky fires by burning a mixture of wolf dung and dry hay. If the attack came at night, they made bright flaming fires. In this way a signal was passed along the wall to the capital of the kingdom a lot faster than horse ride. An alarm could be relayed over 500km within just a few hours.

Based on the rules of Ming Dynasty when enemies are 100-500, then set off the smoke for one time with one shot of fire gun; if 500-1000, two times of smoke with two shots of fire gun.

Can the Great Wall be seen from outer space?

There is a longstanding dispute about how visible the Great Wall is in space. Ripley's Believe It or Not! cartoon from May 1932 makes the claim that the wall is "the mightiest work of man, the only one that would be visible to the human eye from the moon" and Richard Halliburton's 1938 book Second Book of Marvels makes a similar claim. This belief has persisted, assuming urban legend status, sometimes even entering school textbooks. In fact, the Great Wall definitely cannot be seen by the unaided eye from the distance of the moon. Even its visibility from near-earth orbit is questionable. The visible wall theory was shaken once again after China's own astronaut, Yang Liwei, said he couldn’t see the historic structure.

A recent photograph taken from the International Space Station appears to confirm that China's Great Wall can be seen with the naked eye after all. Leroy Chiao, a Chinese-American astronaut, took what the state-run China Daily newspaper concludes is the first photographic evidence that the Great Wall could be seen from space with the naked eye, under certain favorable viewing conditions and if one knows exactly where to look.

For more information, please visit the feature at the website of U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/workinginspace/great_wall.html.

Did the Great Wall serve its purpose of protecting China in history?

The Wall served well. Only when a dynasty had weakened from within, were invaders from the north able to advance and conquer. Both the Mongols (Yuan Dynasty, 1271-1368) and the Manchurians (Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911) were able take power, not because of weakness in the Wall but because of weakness in the government and the poverty of the people. They took advantage of rebellion from within and stepped into the void of power without extended wars.

Why wasn’t the Great Wall one of the Seven Wonders of the World?

As one of the greatest feats that mankind has ever undertaken, the Great Wall of China is NOT one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The reason may have been because the Greeks (who proposed the list of Wonders) were not aware of the existence of the wall in the 5th century.

While in 2007, the Great Wall has been voted as one of the New Seven Wonders. For more information, please visit the official website: http://www.new7wonders.com/.

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