Great Wall of China is titled one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Medieval World’ and it is also included in the ‘New 7 Wonders of the World’. Both of the two honors indicate how the monument has influenced greatly human civilization and world history. It deserved the name ” Great Wall of China”, however it is not one wall as we always thought.. it is way more than…

My first view of the Great Wall from the Motorway, near Beijing, China


The Great Wall of China was a big bucket list item for us both, but why? I had wanted to run the Great Wall marathon held yearly in May for a long time. I had completed the Auckland City half marathon four times, so I was due to go up to running marathons in 2015. My Hashimotos diagnosis put a stop to all of that.. so why not travel to China to still see this magnificent wall. Life does not stop after a diagnosis of a disease, it just carries on in a different form.

We had set ourselves a goal of visiting as many as possible UNESCO world heritage sites in the world in 2016. Now in 2020, we have visited 165 sites out of 1121 sites in the world. 15% in 3.5 years of full time travel. The Great Wall of China was inscribed into UNESCO in 1987.


Interesting facts about the Great Wall of China are:

1.0 Built to protect the historical Northern Borders with Mongolia;

2.0 Built by the Ming Dynasty. It is a series of fortifications of 22,000km long, however only 8,500 km is still in existence;

3.0 It took over 2,500 years to build;

4.0 It was also a border control to allow custom duty on goods transported along the Silk road;

5.0 It covers 15 regions of China, and

6.0 During the construction, soldiers and prisoners were used as labour, unfortunately 400,000 men died. All buried inside the wall.

The Great Wall of China is a group of fortifications made of stones, bricks, sand, rammed earth, and other materials along mountain ridges, plains, desserts, and gobi Desert. It is not simply a ‘wall’, but a military defense project consisting of long connective walls, watch towers, passes, troop barracks and garrison stations. It was constructed mainly for preventing invaders, making enemies harder to break the northern border of the ancient China.

It is China’s most famous landmark, and can be seen from space, as it goes thru 15 provinces at a length of 22,000 kms. It goes from Beijing thru Inner Mongolia to the border with Kyrgyzstan in the west. To put it into perspective Australia from its most eastern point to its west point is only 4,000km wide. You could walk the length of the wall six times over. If you could still walk the Wall. Some parts of it are beautifully preserved, others are charmingly dilapidated.


It took more than 2,500 years to finish the construction of the Great Wall. The wall was not built in a single time period, but combined effort of many states and dynasties in history. The Great Wall was built over 4 periods.

The first built occurred during the Qin Dynasty, 221 to 207 BC. China was unified for the first time under the Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Each town and province had its own city walls. These were all joined together under the leadership of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

Hundred of thousands of workers, many politicians prisoners laboured for 10 years to built the wall of rammed earth. China was very poor, so men between the age of 16 and 60 had to help build the wall. It is said that it is largest cemetery in China, as a lot of men lost their lives.

The third stage continued between 1115 to 1234 due to the impending threat of Gheghis Khan, Great Emperor of Mongolia.

The final stage, is what one will see today, was built during Ming Dynasty from 1368 and 1644, when it was reinforced with stone and bricks.

The best known and most visited sections including Badaling, Mutianyu, Srimati and Jinshaling were built during the Ming Dynasty. The sections of the wall seen today are from the Ming Dynasty. Less than 10% of the sections are well-preserved.

The irony of it all is it never really stopped the enemy from invading Beijing. There were gaps in it, this is how Genghis Khan rode into Beijing in 1215. He killed a lot of the population of Beijing.

The wall is very steep in parts, and they also used other techniques like 2 short steps by one very large step and then 3 short steps by two very large steps.

It was also used as a road to transport goods, equipment and people thru the mountains. It was part of the protection of the safety of the Silk Road, which promoted the culture, politics and economy exchange between China and other countries as well.


We went to Beijing end of October and it was getting cold during the day. In the morning it was in single figures, but by midday around 18 to 19 degrees. Within the week, the night temperatures dropped to freezing. So, bring good walking shoes and a thick coat for the evening and early morning plus a jersey and sweater for walking during the day. It gets cold in the shade.  When it gets cold in Beijing, there are problems with pollution and fog. We were lucky not to experience these winter conditions in Beijing.

Ancient Chinese writing on the Great Wall of China


The security is very high in parts of Beijing. All Chinese Nationals have ID cards on them, so take your passport as your ID card. I have lamented a copy of the front page of our passports. It was accepted by the security guards. There are a lot of places in Beijing where you need to show your passports when you buy tickets.


Recommended Visiting Time: 1~4 hours

We visited Badaling section of the Great Wall in Beijing. We did it by Tour from the Novotel in Beijing. The Cable car is extra. Prices quoted are in CNY.

COSTS – TOUR CNY 400 ppCNY 400 pp

Made with Love and Passion for the Open Road,

Traveller’s Nest Overland team,

Published by travellersnestoverland

What might seems extreme travel to some is normal to us. Two Dutch Kiwis, Rolanda and Mark, with Passion for Overland travel either with our overlanding truck, cars or by train. We have been on the road now for a number of years, 70 Countries done and dusted

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