Try to imagine hiking the Great Wall in the Spring - running from one watchtower to another, touching the ancient earthworks as you walk along. Spring time in Beijing is alive with colors and sounds, a great time to shed the heavy clothes of winter, head to China's Great Wall, and set off for a hike - just choose your goal along the Great Wall and move forward!
Renowned as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall of China stretches across China for 6,260 km (3,890 miles). In China, there is a well known phrase: “He who hasn’t been to the Great Wall is not a true man,” reflecting the national belief that such a momentous project and landmark is worth hiking at least once during one’s lifetime.
Of today's existing portions of the Great Wall, the majority were constructed during the Ming Dynasty, but preliminary construction of the wall began between 220-206 BC by Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. Since its initial construction, the wall has been maintained, rebuilt, and enhanced, so that it became truly "great" over time. So what was the purpose for such a massive undertaking? Not only for defending from attacks by nomadic tribes to the north, China's Great Wall also housed checkpoints for the Imperial Governments of China to tariff goods transported along the Silk Road. As you hike, you will come upon regularly spaced watchtowers - these towers were made to house garrisons of soldiers and to convey messages quickly back and forth by means of fire or smoke signals, much like an early telegraph system.
Jiayuguan Pass is one of the finest passes along the Great Wall remaining today and boasts the most intact surviving ancient military building along the wall. It is the last pass on the Great Wall, at the boundary's far western extreme, but is often called by its honorary title – “The First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven.” The legend of the construction of Jiayuguan is well known on China - don't forget to look for the last brick as you pass through!
Shanhaiguan Pass, in Hebei province, is another notable stop along the Great Wall, and the eastern end of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. The place where the wall itself meets the Pacific Ocean (at the Bohai Sea) has been nicknamed the "Old Dragon's Head." It is nearly 300 km (190 miles) east of Beijing and linked via the Jingshen Expressway that runs northeast to Shenyang.
China has so much to see and so much to offer, start the journey today! Can't wait to discover your adventures in China? Find a Beijing tour, choose your goal and move forward!