History of Great Wall
The 10,000-li Great Wall of China is a result of arduous works and wisdoms of laboring people of past ages. It was built by more than 20 kingdoms and feudal dynasties over 2,000 years since the Spring & Autumn Period and Warring States Period. It is one of the greatest miracles in the world.
About 6,000 to 7,000 years ago, our ancestors started to migrate from dens and caves to settle down in plain areas. As the population grew and production was developed, they dug deep ditches around their residences to prevent the assaults of beasts and floods. They piled up earth walls to protect the security of clan members. The existing winding fluctuant Great Wall was developed on the basis of the ditches and earthen walls of the pre-history culture.
When it came to the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period, the kingdoms competed for hegemony. In order to defend themselves and protect their territories, the kingdoms built up sections of garrisoned walls in their own lands. The earliest walls were the constructed in Kingdom Chu and Kingdom Qi. Later on, as the wars were continually elevated, kingdoms Wei, Yan and Qin joined to construct great walls. However, all these walls were separated, thus known as “ground walls”. The walls of the latter three kingdoms constitute the basis for Emperor Qinshihuang to build the 10,000-li Great Wall.
Drawing on local materials was a precious experience of the craftsmen learnt in the course of constructing the Great Wall. In order to avoid long-distance transportation and save manpower, materials and finances, they adopted different building materials in places of different geographical and geological conditions. For instance, they built the walls with sands where there were many sands. They pounded loess into walls in the Loess Plateau.
In 221 B.C., Emperor Qinshihuang put an end to the feudal separatist rules and established a unified feudal empire. In order to ensure the safety of the central plain areas and keep them away from the threats and harassment of the northern nomadic Huns, the emperor sent general Mengtian to drive out the Huns. He also invested great many manpower, materials and finances to build the Great Wall on the basis of the existing ones in northern kingdoms Yan, Zhao and Qin. He had many parts expanded to extend 10,000 li from Lintao in the west and Liaodong in the east. Since then, the greatest ancient architecture of the world has towered majestically in northern China.
In the Chinese history, four dynasties built Great Wall more than 10,000 li long. They were the Qin, Han, Jin and Ming dynasties. The Great Wall of Han Dynasty was the longest, stretching about 20,000 li from Liaodong in the east to Yanze in the west. Emperor Qinshihuang unified the systems of measurement under his reign. Iron weights were equivalent to today’s weights.
The Gobi regions in Yumen Pass, Gansu, ran short of loess. The section of the Great Wall was built with intervening layers of reeds upon layers of gravels. Since reeds and gravels contained salt and alkali, the walls turned into solid bodies when salt and alkali decomposed and solidified. The walls remained solid like huge rocks over 2,000 years sandstorm assaults.
Yipianshi Pass is located at the site where Funing of Hebei Province meets Suizhong of Liaoning Province. Since it has nine gates, the Pass is also known as nine-gate Pass. It was built to drain floods and protect the Great Wall, when the Great Wall was to pass through a section of water-based areas. It is reputed as the first pass to the east of Beijing. As you see, the one to my left is Shanhai Pass, the first pass under heaven. The one behind you is Jiayu Pass in Gansu, the western tip of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. And this is the Yanmen Pass in Daixian County, Shanxi Province.
Northern Wei, Northern Qi, Eastern Wei and Northern Zhou regimes built Great Wall as well. It further testifies that the Great Wall is a fruit of laboring people of all ethnic groups. Sui Dynasty launched six large-scale constructions of Great Wall. Tang Dynasty boasting powerful national strength did not have any moves to build Great Wall. Song Dynasty built Great Wall to resist attacks of Liao and Western Xia regimes. The Jin Great Wall, about 5,000-li, was the longest built by centralized regimes of ethnic minorities. It is known for trenches. Yuan Dynasty never constructed any Great Wall.
When it was established, Ming Dynasty kept building Great Wall in northern China to prevent restoration of Yuan Dynasty and disturbances of Dadan, Waci, Nczhen and Tufan. In order to fight against foreign invaders, it also built some sections of Great Wall in southeastern coastal lines. Ming Dynasty Great Wall was the longest in Chinese history. It extended 15,000 li from Jiuliancheng at the Yalu River Jiayu Pass of Gansu Province. It was separated into two lines of walls between Beijing and Pianguan of Shanxi Province. In many places, the main walls are protected by many external layers. For instance, Yanmen Pass walls are circled with three major stone walls and 23 petite stone walls. The main walls from Shanhai Pass to Jiayu Pass, running 12,700 li, are well protected. The parts from Shanhai Pass to Beijing look most spectacular after they were reconstructed by Qi Jiguang.
In the early Qing Dynasty, the most famous Shengjing Wall (Liutiaobian) was built in Liaoning and Jilin, totaling 2,600 li. It repaired Shanhai Pass, Juyong Pass, Yanmen Pass and Jiayu Pass, and parts of the old walls. After the mid of the Qing Dynasty, the Great Wall was no longer repaired.
As they were worn out over the years and damaged by human activities, many parts of the ancient walls look desolate. Ming Dynasty Great Wall has also been ruined in many places. Anyway, the 10,000-li Great Wall remains the most spectacular engineering of ancient days. It demonstrates diversified landscapes and architectural talents at different ages, sites and conditions. As a result of long-term communication, Chinese people of all ethnic groups within and beyond the Great Wall have ultimately broken the artificial separations and cultivated a unified and harmonious great family. The Great Wall, a symbol of the Chinese ancient civilization, is a pride of the nation. It is longed for by people across the world. It will make even greater contributions to promote friendships of people of all nations.
Mutianyu Great Wall
Compared with other travel areas of Great Wall, Mutianyu Great Wall Travel Area has prominent peculiarities. Firstly, this travel area is of flourish grasses and dense forests. Its coverage now has accounted to ninety six percent, higher than any other parts of Great Wall. Secondly Mutianyu Gateway Platform is so special and it is quite different to Juyongguan Gateway, Shanghaiguan Gateway and Jiayuguang Gate. The general gateway platform is composed of three hollow enemy towers, which are connected together. The towers on both sides are small and the middle tower is fairly large. On top of three enemy towers are three watch booths and gateway door was not founded in the right middle, but in east side of gateway platform. Entry and exit of gateway platform are also through the doors founded in both sides of enemy tower. Such a special architecture of gateway platform is unusual in the whole Great Wall. Thirdly, enemy towers are closely packed. Four enemy towers were founded from the first Mu-word tower (large angle tower) to the fourth Mu-word tower (general gateway platform), a distance of less than 500 meters. Enemy towers, enemy platforms, wall platforms。
Badaling Great Wall
Badaling Great Wall is located in Yanqing County, 116º35´ east longitude and 40º25´north latitude, 60 kilometers to the northwest of downtown Beijing. To date, 3,741-meter section of the Badaling Great Wall has been opened to tourists, comprising 21 city units and enemy units. Badaling Great Wall was built along the ridges of mountains, looking precipitous from the external wall but gently sloped from the internal wall. It is a year-round travel destination. Mr. Zhao Puchu, a famous poet, calligraphy and president of Chinese Buddhists Association, unveiled the miraculous scene of Badaling Great Wall in all seasons: “We are impressed with the spectacular scenes of Great Wall, as beautiful as pictures. The centuries-old Great Wall has always been so charming in all ages. It is best loved in spring days of blossoming flowers, summer days of green trees, autumn days of sea of red leaves, and winter days of white snows. Looking into the distance, the Great Wall gives expression of infinite passions of old and new.
Badaling Great Wall was officially opened to tourists in 1958. It is a section of the Great Wall opened earliest to tourists and receiving the largest number of tourists. In the five decades since it was opened, Badaling Great Wall scenic spot, on behalf of the Great Wall of China, was conferred with the World Cultural Heritage license by UNESCO. It was listed among the first batch of important cultural relic sites under state-level protection by the Central Government, the best of the top 10 scenic spots in the country, the best of the top 40 tourism destinations in the country, and the country’s first group of 5A-class tourism scenic spots. In 2007, in the appraisal of the world’s new seven wonders, Great Wall maintained its top position because of its extensive and profound history and culture, and unprecedented prestige in the world.
Badaling, about 60km to the northwest of downtown Beijing, or 116°65’ east longitude and 40°25’ north latitude, is a mountain pass of wooded Jundu Mountain. As recorded in Changan Kehua of Ming Dynasty, “Roads are separated here to extend in all directions. It is thus known as Badaling, the highest of all passes.”
The name of Badaling could be dated back to Arriving at Badaling at Night, Ascending Until Dawn, and Leaving Badaling, long poems of Liu Ying, a poet of Jin Dynasty. In Yuan Dynasty, it was referred to as the “north mouth” as opposed to the “south mouth”, which is found in Changping district, northern Beijing. There is a 40-kilometer gorge from the south mouth to the north mouth, which accommodates to the famous Juyong Pass of Great Wall. In this sense, the gorge is also known as Guangou (pass gorge). Badaling sits at the highest point in the northern end of Guangou. Here, two mountain summits stand opposite each other, leaving a channel in the middle. It looks down from a height, featuring imposing circumstances. Looking down from Badaling at Juyong Pass, we feel as if peeping at other’s roofs or courtyards. Therefore, there went the old saying that Juyong Pass was strategically important in Badaling rather than the Pass itself. Because of the special topography, the Badaling mountain pass turned into a place contested by all strategists in the old days. It had always been heavily stationed. It could be traced back to the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period for Badaling to develop into a strategic military location. According to the Historical Records and census by cultural relic workers in recent years, Badaling witnessed construction of Great Wall in the Warring States Period. We can still see remnant walls and piers, whose directions are largely identical with the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. As recorded in a Han document, Jundu and Juyong passes were built at Badaling. Commentary on the Waterways Classic, a work of Northern Wei period, said that “Juyong Pass is located in the Juyong bound, thus it takes the name. The southern is a dead end, so rocks are piled to make the Pass. It is abounded with stiff cliffs and unattainable even to men of light magic…. The water flows to the south, across the Jundu realm….” Therefore, some experts propose that Han Dynasty regime built Juyong Pass at Badaling. Where did Juyong come from? When Emperor Qinshihuang had Great Wall built, a number of poor peasants and criminals were migrated into the south and settled down at the Guichuan Basin of Jundu Mountain. The place was referred to the residence of Yongtu, or second-rate people. Emperor Wudi of Han Dynasty moved Guichuan under the reign of Juyong County (imitating Yanqing). The topographical features and landscapes of the Pass as recorded in Commentary on the Waterways Classic are the same with the geographical environments of Badaling.
The Northern Wei regime of some 1,500 years ago constructed Great Wall near Badaling. As recorded in Biographic Sketches of Emperor Shizu, Wei Records, in the 7th year of Northern Wei Tuobashi Taiping Zhenjun (446), a Great Wall was built to the north of the capital city Pingcheng (today’s Datong), known as Ji Shang Sai Wei (military works to defend the capital city.) It ran from Shanggu Jundu Mountain (near Badaling) in the east and stretched towards the bank of Yellow River in the west. Later on, as it came to the 6th year of Emperor Tianbao of Northern Qi regime (555), a Great Wall was constructed from Datong in the west and, via Jundu Mountain, went eastward to the seaside.
Badaling Great Wall was reconstructed when it came to the Ming Dynasty period.
Zhu Yuanzhang, Emperor Taizu of Ming Dynasty, was keenly aware of the military significance of city walls. When he took the throne, he ordered to erect high fortifications and set up defenses for war preparations. Local governments were also enthusiastic to fortify walled cities. Zhu Yuanzhang sent commanders-in-chief Xu Da and Feng Sheng to lead troops to construct Great Wall and train soldiers in the north to prevent surviving forces of Yuan Dynasty to invade the south.
In 1403, Emperor Chengzu Zhu Di, the third ruler of Ming Dynasty, came to the throne. In 1420, he moved the capital city from Nanjing to Beijing. Zhu Di was resolved to unify China. He made five great expeditions, leading troops to penetrate into Mongolia Plateau and go as far as Enen River in today’s Russia (after 1488). After that, he began to launch large-scale and all-round construction of Great Wall. Thanks to a total of 18 large-scale construction projects in 270 years, the Great Wall was finally completed ranging from the Yalu River in Liaoning Province in the east to Bulongji to the west of Jiayu Pass in Gansu Province. This is what we normally say the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of Ming Dynasty extends 14,600 li, through seven provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in north China. It is unparalleled compared with previous walls, in terms of engineering technologies and defense levels. In this sense, the Great Wall of China as we have seen today could be dated back to the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period, connected in the Emperor Qinshihuang period, and improved in the Ming Dynasty.
The Great Wall of Ming Dynasty was no longer simple high walls. They were built into defense systems in depth. Multiple rounds of walls and passes were built in key areas. Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxin and Hebei had constructed double lines of Great Wall. Shanxi Province set up four lines of Great Wall. Multiple passes and multi-lane short walls were constructed in important traffic and military forts. Take the 10-li valley in Yanmen Pass. There were 28 lines of stone walls. It was practically that “every inch of land was barricaded to consolidate at every step.”
Badaling witnessed many major events in history. After he visited the Jieshi Hill for a good view of the sea in the east, Emperor Qinshihuang, China’s first emperor, returned through Badaling to Datong and then back to Xianyang. Other rulers passing Badaling included Empress Dowager Xiao of the Liao regime in her imperial tour of inspection, Emperor Taizu of Yuan to enter the Shanhai Pass, emperors of Yuan Dynasty traveling between Beijing and Shangdu twice each year, emperors of Ming Dynasty sending expeditions northward, and emperors of Qing Dynasty in great expeditions…. There were countless feudal nobles and men of letters composing poems and essays in praise of Badaling Great Wall. The first poem on Badaling Great Wall was composed by Gao Shi, a poet of Tang Dynasty, in which he gave a minute description “water-fall pours down steep slopes, mountains stand out high as clouds.” In the ages of strife among nationalities in ancient China, Badaling staged countless magnificent historical dramas. Nowadays, the bitter histories of old China, feudal lords contending for control over 2,000 years and change of dynasties, have become distant events in the remote past. Our time has endowed new missions to Badaling Great Wall. It serves as a precious monument of history standing upright at summits of mountains. It glimmers with the splendors of Chinese civilization and wisdom, and embodies the unyielding virtues of Chinese nation. It has become the ties of friendship among Chinese people of all ethnic groups, overseas Chinese and foreign friends. It is a precious cultural heritage of mankind.
In 1952, three years after the founding of New China, Guo Moruo, vice-premier and director of the Culture and Education Commission, proposed to repair Badaling Great Wall to receive Chinese and foreign tourists.
Since Qing Dynasty, Badaling Great Wall had growingly fallen into ruin. The Key to the Northern Gate to the west of Juyong Pass was damaged by half. The Outer Town to the east of Juyong Pass was on the verge of collapse. The Great Wall was ruined everywhere in outer and inner walls, forts, terraces and watchtowers. After the State Council decided to have it repaired, related departments acted immediately. Such restorations were done many times later.
In 1961, the State Council approved to list Badaling passes and walls as a state-level major cultural relic preservation site. In 1984, comrade Deng Xiaoping advocated to “Love China and Repair Great Wall.” Since then, the centuries-old Great Wall took on new scenes. A total of 19 watchtowers and 3,741-meter walls were repaired, expanding the areas open to tourists to 19,000 square meters. In 1986, Badaling Great Wall was listed as one of the 16 scenes of New Beijing. In 1987, the United Nations put Great Wall in the directory of World Cultural Heritages. In August 1991, Badaling, as an elite part of Great Wall of China, was conferred a certificate of human cultural heritage by UNESCO at the Palace Museum of Beijing. In December 1991, Badaling, known for its admiring scenic spot, won 370,000 votes, an overwhelming superiority, out of 480,000 valid votes to be the best loved of top 40 tourism sites among 94 candidates in an appraisal activity in Zhuhai City.
Baaling Great Wall is famous both in China and abroad. It is the earliest section of Great Wall opened to tourists. There is a popular saying in the country, “He who doesn’t reach the Great Wall is not a true man.” To date, Badaling has received 130 million Chinese and foreign tourists. They include 372 foreign heads of states and numerous men of the time, such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagon, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Elizabeth II and Edward Heath. This is indeed rate among world famous scenic spots. Visitors are deeply impressed with Badaling Great Wall, with infinite reverie.
Badaling Great Wall, the best part of Great Wall of China, is greeting invasions of tourists of the world with its centuries-old and yet young vigor. People having ascended the Great Wall are all overcome with the marvelous scenes.