Great Wall of China – Giant Guardian
The largest and longest construction project in history is the Great Wall of China. Millions of peasants and soldiers worked over a period of 1800 years to build it. It meanders across mountains and valleys. It is one of the biggest structures ever made by humans. The ancient Chinese built the wall to protect against invading armies. Today it is a symbol of China.
The Great Wall runs for over 6,500 kilometers, from the Gobi Desert in the west to the sea in the east, through some spectacular mountainous country. The entire wall is made of earth and stones. Its height ranges from 5 to 9 meters, and its width is 5 to 8 meters.
Defensive walls were first built in northern China before 3000 BC, but the main work of building the Great Wall was begun in the reign of the first emperor, Shi-huangdi of the Qin dynasty. He united the various Chinese kingdoms under his rule in 221 BC.
The wall we see today is largely work of the Ming dynasty of emperors, who ruled from 1368 to 1644. China had been conquered by Mongol horsemen under Genghis Khan in 1215. The Mongols ruled for 150 years, until the Ming drove them out. To make sure they never returned, the Ming decided to rebuild and extend the Great Wall.
The Great Wall was not just a wall. Along parts of it there were towers every 200 meters and hundreds of forts and castles.
Today the Great Wall is a great attraction for visitors to China. In 1987, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) named the Great Wall a World Heritage site.