How Long Did It Take to Build the Whole Great Wall of China?

How Long Did It Take to Build The Whole Great Wall of China?

Anyone who has been to the Great Wall of China is amazed at how the wall will stretch for as far as you can see. It is truly an amazing architectural and construction feat.

The Great Wall of China took over 2,000 years to build. The building span over many Chinese Dynasties or for about 22 centuries. The construction of the wall ended in the Ming Dynasty in 1644. The Great Wall is one of the largest human-made construction projects globally; the Great Wall is over 21,196 kilometers or 13,171 miles. There are over 25,000 watchtowers scattered throughout the Great Wall structure.

View of the Great Wall
View of the Great Wall

Over 2,000 Years to Build the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China took over 2,000 years; construction took place from 770 BC to 1633 AD. The construction of the Great Wall took over 22 centuries to build. Millions of Chinese workers worked on the construction of the Great Wall; it is impossible to know how many Chinese workers died during the wall’s construction.

The most recent portion of the Great Wall was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644); this is also the portion of the wall that is best preserved. In the Ming Dynasty, General Qi Jiquang ordered for the Great Wall to be rebuilt to help fortify the Capital of Beijing. The project to rebuild the wall around Beijing was complete in 1644.

China started to build border walls in the Zhou Dynasty in 770 BC. It was under the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) who officially commissioned the Great Wall extension.

In 206 BC, the wall was lengthened to include parts of western China so that China could fortify itself and protect its silk road trade route. The construction of the wall was extended to the Yumen Pass. The Yumen Pass, also known as the Jade Gate or Pass of the Jade Gate, is located in Dunhuang in Gansu Province, China.

The Great Wall In The Snow
The Great Wall In The Snow

Length of the Great Wall of China

The entire length of the Great Wall is about 21,196 kilometers or 13,171 miles. This includes overlapping sections of the Great Wall.

Years ago, when I traveled by train to Urumqi, China, we could see parts of the Great Wall in the vast desert. So I personally know the wall extended out to many parts of Western China as I have seen some of those crumbled sections of the Great Wall.

Interesting Facts About The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall is a fascinating human-made structure. We have compiled for you some interesting facts about the Great Wall of China.

Interesting facts about the Great Wall of China:

  • The Chinese Name is Wanli Changcheng; this translates to “Long Wall.”
  • The Great Wall is of the largest building or construction projects ever untaken. It is one of the longest human-made structures in the world.
  • The Great Wall is considered a national treasure in China.
  • The Great Wall stretches over 15 provinces in China.
  • Throughout the construction, millions of Chinese workers helped construct the Great Wall; we have no idea how many Chinese workers died during the Great Wall construction.
  • The Great Wall symbolizes the unification of China.
  • The building and expansion of the Great Wall officially started under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC.
  • The wall was built and rebuilt many times over a 2,000 year period.
  • The Great Wall is constructed mainly using earth, stone, brick, lime, and wood; the materials used in the construction also depended on what they could locally source for building the wall.
  • In many parts, the Great Wall is a substantial structure; this is a testament to how well the original wall was built.
  • The entire wall is about 21,196 kilometers or 13,171 miles. This includes overlapping sections of the wall that have been built.
  • The Great Wall is built throughout northern China and southern Mongolia.
  • The Great Wall’s last imperial designated construction project was during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644); the construction official ended in 1644.
  • The Ming Dynasty added many miles to the wall; the Ming sections of the Great Wall are the best-preserved sections of the wall. But still, about 30% of the Great Wall built under the Ming has disappeared.
  • The Ming Dynasty constructed about 5,499 miles or 8,850 kilometers of the Great Wall.
  • The Great Wall traces the Crestline of hills and mountains, and the architects used natural barriers like rivers and mountain ridges.
  • Lengthy sections of the wall have eroded, with only parts of the wall standing.
  • The Great Wall is considered one of the most amazing structures on the planet.
  • UNESCO designated the Great Wall and World Heritage site in 1987.
  • The Great Wall was built to fortify China’s Northern border; throughout Chinese history, the Great Wall has been a battle site.
  • The main purpose of the wall was to prevent invasions from the nomadic tribes north of China.
  • The Great Wall’s average height is 7.8 meters, but it may reach 14 meters in some areas. This height made it ideal as a way to fortify against invasions.
  • The average width of the great wall is about 4 to 5 meters.
  • The Great Wall started as border fortifications and castles for individual Chinese kingdoms. The Kingdoms were interested in protecting their own kingdoms as well as to keep out northern invaders.
  • There are about 25,000 watch towers throughout the Great Wall. The distance between each watchtower differs; some were very close, like 3 miles apart, and other was a long distance.
  • The watchtowers on the Great Wall were used to watch for the enemy’s movement and transmit signals. The soldiers would send a signal by fire during the night time, and in the daytime, they would signal by puffing smoke.
  • Each of the watchtowers had about 3 stories. The first and second floors were used for the soldier’s living quarters and the storage room for grain and fuel. The supplies they had ensured the soldiers could stay at the watchtower for a long period of time.
  • There is a myth that the Great Wall of China is the only human-made structure that can be seen on earth from space; the truth is that this is not necessarily true.
View From the Great Wall of China
View From the Great Wall of China

How to Visit the Great Wall

The best places to visit the Great Wall are all outside Beijing, China. You can go on an organized tour or go by yourself. When we went there, rented a car and spent the day at the wall. It was a very nice day and a lovely way to see the wall as we were not under any kind of schedule.

The main section of the Great Wall around Beijing are:

  • Mutianyu Great Wall– The Mutianyu has some of the best-restored sections of the Great Wall. It is about 70 kilometers from Beijing. You can find out more about this section of the Mutianyu Great Wall by clicking here.
  • Jinshanling Great Wall – Jinshanling is one of the most popular hiking parts of the Great Wall. It is about 125 kilometers from Beijing. This section of the wall also has some of the finest original architecture of the wall. You can find out more about Jinshanling Great Wall by clicking here.
  • Jiankou Great Wall – The Jiankou section of the great wall is quite steep and difficult to hike or walk on. It is also the section of the wall that is most highly filmed or photographed on postcards. To find out more about the Jiankou part of the Great Wall, you can click here.

The Great Wall of China is an amazing architectural feat. No wonder it is considered to be one of the New Wonders of the World. When you visit the Great Wall, what is even more amazing is to realize that this was an architectural construction project that took over 2,000 years and covers thousands of miles.

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How Long Did It Take to Build The Whole Great Wall of China?