The Great Wall is one of the ‘Eight Wonders of the World’ and in 1988 was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Directory. The only man-made structure visible from space, this immense wall originally spanned almost 6,700 kilometres from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west. Built originally to keep out the marauding raiders from the North, most now lies in ruins, with the best parts close to Beijing preserved at Badaling; Mutianyu; Simatai and Jinshanling. The most popular being at Badaling because of its easy access and local facilities.
The Great Wall of China – Badaling
By far the most popular part of the Great Wall of China to visit and only 80 Kilometres from the heart of Beijing, Badaling provides easy access for a visit to China’s ultimate icon. The Badaling section of the Great Wall was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). Visited by millions of visitors each year, this section of the great Wall has been carefully restored and was opened to visiting tourists in late 1957.
This popular section of the Great Wall of China offers easy access and facilities. It is optional to take a cable car to the top of the Badaling section.
The Great Wall of China – Mutianyu
The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China is one of the best preserved sections of the Great Wall of China. Dating back over 1500 years, Mutianyu featured as the Northern barrier of the Great Wall and offered protection to the city and the Imperial tombs. Set amongst the tress with mountains as a back drop, Mutianyu is not as busy as Badaling.
Mutianyu is 2.5 kilometres long and was heavily fortified with 3 watch towers, one large and two small. This style of architecture is quite unique and rarely appears along other sections of the 6,000+ kilometres of the Great Wall.
If you are feeling adventurous there is a Cable car (up) and Toboggan ride (down) to enjoy.
The Great Wall of China – Simatai
A listed world heritage site, the Simatai section of the Great Wall of China is further away than Mutianyu and Badaling, 120 kilometres from Beijing. North East of the city, the Simatai section was originally built in the Qi dynasty over 1500 years ago. During the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) the 5 kilometre section of the Great Wall received a face lift and to date is one of the best examples of the traditional Ming style.
Simatai was regarded as a key strategic point on the Eastern side of the Great Wall; visitors can view all the way to Beijing from the Wangjinglou watch tower.
Simatai is more rugged and less developed than other sections of the Great Wall and attracts fewer tourist visits as a moderate level of fitness is required due to the terrain. It is this terrain that tells of an interesting story of the Simatai sections creation – with mountain goats used to carry bricks, one by one across the difficult landscape.
The Great Wall of China – Jinshanling
Located 130 kilometres form Beijing and 10 kilometres from the Simatai section, Jinshanling is one of the larger sections of the Beijing Great Wall at 11 kilometres. It is possible to spend a day walking between Simatai and Jinshanling (wear comfortable shoes!)
Jinshanling features 67 towers. This section of the Great Wall was built under the direction of the Ming Dynasty General Xu Da, and whilst restoration has occurred close to the entry point at Jinshanling, the Wall deteriorates to its original condition the closer it nears Simatai.