The Great Wall of China is probably the first thing people think of when they hear “China.” It is the longest structure ever built by humans. This building is a series of fortresses made of stone compacted with soil, wood, and other materials. After 2,000 years, this wall is still standing strong to protect China. The construction of the Great Wall has a long history, beginning during the Warring States Period. The Great Wall was initiated by some of the great kingdoms of that era:
Qing Dynasty (221 – 206 BC)
The Qing Dynasty united 6 states into one country called China, to strengthen their power. Each state had built a large wall to protect their country from enemy attack. During the Qing Dynasty, the walls from each state were united and extended. It took nine years to unite these walls, as well as many casualties and lots of material. The wall was named Wan Li Chang Cheng, which means Ten Thousand Li Great Wall.
Han Dynasty (221 BC – 206 AD)
After the Qing dynasty, a war caused China to split again. But the Han dynasty reunited China and then invaded the northern nomads and won the region. Then the King repaired the Great Wall and increased the wall’s length. During the Han Dynasty, the Great Wall was dubbed the Longest Wall.
Northern and Southern Dynasties (420 – 589 AD)
After the collapse of the Han Dynasty, during the time of the northern and southern dynasties, China was split and there was a civil war. They added new walls to the Great Wall.
Jin Dynasty (1115 -1234)
The Jin Dynasty repaired the great wall using a different method. They dug a trench around the walls that had been built to prevent attacks from the Mongol empire. In the Jin Dynasty, the Great Wall was known as the Border Fortress.
The Mongol Empire
Because of a weak empire and attacks by northern barbarians, the Jin Dynasty collapsed. Then the Great Wall was overrun by the Mongol Empire, and they ruled for nearly 900 years.
Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644)
The Ming dynasty defeated the Mongol Empire and expelled them to the Mongolian highlands. Then the Ming emperor made repairs and strengthened the Great Wall. The era of the Ming Dynasty was the end of construction on the Great Wall of China.
Manchu Empire (1644 – 1911)
In this era, the reign of Manchu managed to overthrow the Ming dynasty and extended their empire beyond the Great Wall of China.
The Great Wall of China is now a tourist attraction for both local and foreign tourists. In addition, it is also used as a venue for a marathon that is held annually in May. To find out more information about this marathon, go to http://great-wall-marathon.com/. In 1987, the Great Wall became an UNESCO cultural heritage site. UNESCO also declared that the Great Wall is the only manmade structure visible from the moon.
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