Great Wall of China


In this article you will find the answer to the following questions, details and history about the great wall of China:

  • How long is
  • How tall is
  • When was Built
  • Why Was Built
  • How old is


China Great Wall


When was Built

As we will see in detail it built started on 215 BC until almost 206 BC.


How old Is

Is is more than 2.300 years old.


Why Was Built

China, year 215 a. C. The country is under the yoke of its first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi. His last great order: build a huge defensive line against the nomads of the northern steppes, which threaten with their incursions the stability of the Empire. In the place designated for this great wall, a man charged with a huge block of stone on his back falls to the floor exhausted. An officer approaches and hits him harshly ordering him to get up. The man does not move. He has died a victim of exhaustion. Now you have to bury it. However, in this slave society, even the dead have their utility. The body of the unfortunate will serve as another element of the wall, will be walled inside. This is the price required for the construction of the Great Wall.

Although not all historians agree, Qin Shi Huangdi is credited with having ordered the construction of the first Great Wall. Because, although it is generally spoken of the Great Wall, in reality there was not only one, but several. There were several construction periods over a millennium and a half, and the layout of those walls was altered depending on the needs.

According to tradition, after unifying his empire in 221 a. C., the first emperor of China ordered one of his generals, Meng Tian, ​​to build a large fortification along its northern border. However, the creation of walls to protect their new empire was not in itself a novelty. In fact, Qin Shi Huangdi was inspired by a policy practiced in the past. The existence of defensive lines goes back several centuries before his reign, especially to the previous period, that of the Warring States.

At that time the Chinese territory was divided into different states, allies or facing each other according to the circumstances. These kingdoms erected walls to defend themselves against their enemies, but, in addition, those located in the northern part built defenses to protect themselves from the attacks of the nomadic peoples of the northern steppes.

It was precisely in this last type of defenses that the first emperor was set to raise his own defensive line before the attacks of the nomads. He ordered to build new walls, and in other cases to take advantage of the existing ones and to unite them in such a way that a wide protective knot was formed. According to the legend, said wall would measure ten thousand li. The li is a unit that is equivalent to approximately half a kilometer. That is, the Great Wall would reach a total length of 5,000 kilometers.

And this is where the tradition that associates the sovereign Qin with the Great Wall arises, but also with its cruelty, a fame that has been handed down from generation to generation in China and that has made him a feared and hated. His own tomb, composed of thousands of terracotta warriors, is another example of the power attained by the first emperor. In the case of the Great Wall, it is said that it employed a million people, many of whom gave up their lives in the endeavor. Among those who worked in its construction were soldiers from peasants forced to abandon their crops and move north to satisfy the wishes of the Sovereign. In addition, there were those condemned by the State. Under Qin Shi Huangdi, China became a police state where any violation of the law was punishable by harsh punishments. It was not strange that there was a lot of labor thanks to the sentences of forced labor.

The aim was to put an end to the nomadic attacks, which had become very difficult to avoid due to the extreme mobility of the horsemen of the steppes.
The impulse of such a long barrier was aimed at ending the nomadic attacks, which had become very difficult to avoid until then due to the extreme mobility of the horsemen of the steppes. Some historians have suggested that the consequences of the construction of the Great Wall were felt in places as distant as the West. Thus, nomadic people who could not cross it chose to go west. One of them would be that of the Xiongnu, whose descendants, among whom are the Huns of Attila, came to Europe and contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire.

Be that as it may, after the overthrow of the Qin in 206 a. C., later dynasties would continue their work repairing or extending the Great Wall and even altering the original circuit. However, it will not be until a millennium and a half later when this imposing defensive line takes on special relevance again.


If Qin Shi Huangdi is assigned the idea of ​​the Great Wall, the Ming were the ones who gave him the impressive dimensions that can currently be seen when visiting him. Until the arrival of this dynasty, which remained in power from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, references to the Great Wall had been scarce in Chinese written works. It was cited by great historians such as Sima Qian and Ban Gu, albeit superficially. This would indicate that until then a defensive line had been treated without excessive importance and whose utility had decreased with the passage of time.

Under the Ming, however, the Great Wall regained the weight lost during the previous centuries. It was restored following the old foundations and was preserved in good condition throughout its thousands and thousands of kilometers. In fact, the wall of the Ming even exceeds the dimensions established in the times of the first emperor. It extends from Shanghaiguan, on the edge of the Gulf of Bohai, on the east coast of the country, to Jiayuguan, an impressive fort that puts an end to the historic defense, already in the desert areas of Gansu province.


How long is

Total length is 21.196 km

In total, it covers 6,000 kilometers of Chinese territory. It is not strange that his original name in Chinese is changcheng, the “long wall”. Because of its serpentine path, its image has been associated with that of a huge dragon, the symbol of the imperial monarchy in China.
The new dynasty opted for a more resistant defensive system, so that its dimensions were also enlarged.


How tall is

The average height is 6-7 meters (20-23 feet).

In the central and eastern part, which is the most important and a beautiful example of Ming architecture, the height of the walls reaches almost 10 meters. Every 800 meters or so there are guard towers, and at various points along the Great Wall there are fortifications, inhabited by those military units that were in charge of preventing enemy attacks and curbing any attempt to invade Chinese territory.


Defense and politics

The construction of a wall protecting the northern frontier had first and foremost a defensive function. Its extension to the west by the Ming has a logical explanation. Qin Shi Huangdi dominated a smaller empire than the Ming, who inherited the territories conquered by previous dynasties. Now the danger came not only from the north, but also from the interior of Asia, from the regions located in the central zone of the continent.
The Ming carried out military campaigns beyond their borders to prevent the offensive of neighboring peoples and extend the borders of the Empire.
The construction of the wall was accompanied by measures such as surprise attacks on the northern towns. Like some previous dynasties, the Ming carried out military campaigns beyond their borders to prevent the offensive of neighboring peoples and extend the borders of the Empire. This was especially important in the north, from where most of the partial or total invasions of the Chinese Empire came in the centuries before the Ming. The dynasty was very aware of this fact. The main enemies were the Mongols, who had dominated the throne of the country for almost a century.
But there were also political reasons for the construction of the wall. During the reign of the third Ming emperor, Yongle, in the early fifteenth century, the change of capital of the Empire of Nanjing (“the capital of the south”) to Beijing (or Beijing, the “capital of the north”) took place. Among the reasons for this transfer was to control the northern border more closely, but this also implied a new concern: the closeness with the nomads involved the need to strengthen the defenses of Beijing and the Forbidden City, the residence of the Emperor, who was beginning to erect.
The period of greatest construction was, however, the time of Wanli, halfway between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Ming dynasty goes into decline from the second half of the sixteenth century. Imperial expenditures are on the rise, but they are mostly events abroad, with the increasingly fierce offensives of the Mongols and other nomadic peoples such as the Manchus, which impel the emperor to substantially reinforce the defensive line of the north. Military spending skyrocketed and the consequences were significant, because the cost left China in a delicate economic situation.


The offensive of the Mongols and other nomadic peoples such as the Manchus, urged the emperor to substantially strengthen the defensive line of the north.
In fact, it was not the nomads who toppled the Ming, but an internal revolt. In the midst of the chaos, the Manchus, responding to the call of some Ming officers, crossed without problems the Great Wall and arrived in Beijing, where they crushed the rebellion. However, once in China, the Manchus did not retreat, but moved to occupy the imperial throne. The last Chinese dynasty was born, that of the Qing. The Great Wall had stopped making sense. In a curious outcome of fate, the Ming, those who had contributed most to making the Great Wall the most important defense in China, became the last Chinese dynasty.

Center of the world

Although its function was mainly military, the Great Wall was not only a defensive line, but also a sample of the Chinese attitude toward the outside world. For the Chinese, it marked the real frontier between civilization (represented by themselves) and the “barbarians”, that is, those peoples (Huns, Turks, Mongols …) that threatened the stability of the Central Empire. This was the name given to China, whose rulers and inhabitants considered themselves the center of the world, the only civilized world.
The Great Wall also served to fix the differences between two types of society: the one formed by a sedentary people that practiced agriculture and the nomad, which was mainly dedicated to livestock.
Only for all these reasons is it explained that this magnificent construction has survived so long. Today, the Great Wall lacks the military utility of the past and is no longer the target of the “barbarians”, but of tourism, both foreign and domestic. The Chinese, in any case, show their pride in the ability of their ancestors to lift such a magnum opus, often forgetting the pain it caused in them.