Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China ( Chinese 中國 長城 / 中国 长城 , Pinyin Zhōngguó Chángchéng - literally: Long Great Wall of China ”), colloquially in Chinese mostly simply Great Wall ( 萬里長城 / 万里长城 , Wànlǐ Chángchéng -“ literally: 10,000 Li- Wall, better: ten thousand Li long (protective) wall ", short : 長城 / 长城 , Chángchéng -" literally: long wall ") is a system of historical border fortifications , consisting of temporally and geographically different protective walls, which the nomadic horsemen keep out of the north of the Chinese Empire and protect the population from robbery and attacks. With their construction in the 7th century BC Started. According to the latest surveys, it extends over 21,196 kilometers and includes 43,721 individual objects and locations.
The Chinese name "10,000 Li long wall" ( 萬里長城 / 万里长城 , Wànlǐ Chángchéng ) includes the Chinese length specification lǐ ( 里 ). A historical Li corresponds to about 500 m, 10,000 Li is therefore approx. 5,000 km. However, the term is not to be taken literally. The number 10,000, so wàn ( 萬 / 万 ), also stands for infinity or an uncountable amount in Chinese (similar to the myriad ). Therefore, the expression can be understood as an “unimaginably long wall”.
Expansion and condition
According to a survey by Chinese authorities in April 2009, the length of the Great Wall of China was given as 8,851.8 km, about 2,000 km more than previously assumed. This figure also includes 2,233 km of natural barriers such as rivers and mountains.
According to the latest archaeological surveys, the Chinese Cultural Heritage Office in June 2012 put the total length at 21,196.18 km. The 2008 survey recorded only those parts of the Great Wall that were built during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Of these sections alone, only 8.2% are intact, while 74.1% are in poor condition. In some cases only the foundations exist.
In terms of volume and mass, the Great Wall of China is considered the largest structure in the world. The wall consists of a system of several sections, some of which are not connected to one another, of different ages and construction methods, the main wall of which is 2,400 km long. In total, the wall covers 15 provinces, autonomous areas and cities: Beijing , Tianjin , Hebei , Shanxi , Inner Mongolia , Liaoning , Jilin , Heilongjiang , Shandong , Henan , Shaanxi , Gansu , Qinghai , Ningxia , Xinjiang .
Today the wall is constantly being restored through state funding. There is a 600 km section near Beijing, most of which is in good condition. Four sections can be visited by tourists. The best-known restored section of the wall extends near Badaling , 70 km northwest of Beijing . Other touristically developed sections are at Mutianyu , Simatai and Juyongguan . While the sections at Mutianyu and Badaling are to be expanded due to the great tourist interest, new, publicly accessible sections at Huanghuacheng and Hefangkou are also planned.
It is believed that the Great Wall was built as early as the 7th century BC. Began. The oldest sections found so far are the Great Wall of the Qi Duchy in what is now Shandong Province and the Great Wall of the Chu Kingdom in what is now Henan Province . They go back to the time of the spring and autumn annals (770–476 BC).
Other early wall-like border fortifications were probably built in the second half of the 5th century BC. Chr. In the Warring States Period as protection against the feuding among themselves Chinese. These individual wall sections consisted of pounded clay, which was mixed with layers of straw and brushwood for better durability.
214 BC The first Chinese emperor, Qin Shihuangdi , had protective walls built to protect the Chinese empire against the peoples from the north, especially the Xiongnu , after the expansion across the Yellow River . In contrast to the existing remains of the old wall, the wall was not built in the valleys, but below the ridge line of the mountains on the northern slopes. Due to the lack of clay, it mostly consisted of layers of natural stone.
Since then, the wall has been expanded and rebuilt again and again. For example, punitive expeditions to Mongolia were occasionally undertaken in the Jin Dynasty (1125–1234) , and from 1192 the Great Wall was also reinforced. The shape of the wall that still exists today was created during the Ming Dynasty , the last major expansion phase. In 1493, under Emperor Hongzhi, the construction of the Ming Wall began, which was supposed to protect against the Mongols and to better monitor trade. About 300,000 soldiers were stationed in the nine Ming garrisons to defend it . Its course followed the mountain ridges, a particularly complex and expensive construction method. It was built largely from burned stones and partly from natural stones. The mortar used consisted of quick lime and around three percent sticky rice , with the amylopectin contained in this early composite material ensuring the particularly high resistance. Only the outer skin of the structure was bricked ( wall masonry ), the inside was filled with clay, sand and gravel. The exact number of people who died while building the Great Wall of China is not known. Some researchers estimate that hundreds of thousands, if not up to a million, were killed in the construction of the Qin Wall alone.
The dimensions of the wall are quite different; in the Beijing area , 4 to 8 m wide at the crown and 10 m at the base and a height of 6 to 9 m are common. At a distance of a few hundred meters, towers around 12 m high were built to serve as weapons depots and signal towers. In addition, they offered protection for the defenders in the event of attacks. It is estimated that up to 25,000 such towers were integrated into the wall and that 15,000 additional signal towers were supposed to secure communication with the capital. Remnants of signal towers have been found near Kashgar , the old trading city in China's extreme west.
The watchtowers were notified according to a simple principle when opponents were in sight. Neighboring watchtowers could be informed through a fire on the tower where an enemy was sighted. This was made possible by the viewing distance of the towers, which could then pass on the warning by fire signals.
The Great Wall of China is also shown on the famous China map by the Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius , which was published in 1584 in the Atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum . This west-facing map is the first map of China printed in Europe. The length of the Great Wall of China was given by this cartographer to be 400 Dutch miles, which is 2336 km, and thus clearly underestimated. The Latin text next to the wall reads: Murus quadringentarum leucarum inter montium crepidines a Rege Chinæ contra Tartarorum ab hac parte eruptiones extructus. In English: A four hundred mile long wall was built between the mountain ridges by the King of China against the invasions of the Tartars in the area.
Unrestored watchtower near Simatai
The system of walls was originally more extensive than long assumed. Even Sven Hedin and Folke Bergman discovered during their Chinese-Swedish expedition 1927-1935 remains of the Great Wall in the Lop Nor desert , the Folke Bergman described the 1937th His book was made available to Chinese scholars in a Chinese translation in 2000; Then, in early 2001, they looked for the signal towers of the Great Wall of China in the Lop Nor desert, which is located almost 500 km west of the Jiayuguan fortress , which Chinese scientists had previously considered the western end point of the wall. Scientists believe this part of the wall was built to protect the middle route of the Silk Road , on which richly laden trade caravans traveled west, but they suspect that the end of the wall was not here.
|Great Wall of
|722-221 BC Chr.||
楚 長城 / 楚 长城
|The defense wall of the Chu Kingdom in the triangle of Hubei , Shaanxi and Henan . Not yet localized.|
|Great Wall of
|424-222 BC Chr.||
趙 長城 / 赵 长城
|The Defense Wall of the Zhao Kingdom from the Warring States Period|
|445-225 BC Chr.||
魏 長城 遗址 / 魏 长城 遗址
Wei Changcheng Yizhi
|The defense wall of King Hui of Liang in Hexi 梁 辉 王 河西 长城 , Liang Hui Wang Hexi changcheng during the Wei Dynasty from the Warring States Period|
|Great Wall of
|353-290 BC Chr.||
燕 長城 / 燕 长城
|The Defense Wall of the Kingdom of Yan from the Warring States Period
"Earth" or "Stone Dragon"
|Great Wall of
|361-221 BC Chr.||
秦 長城 / 秦 长城
|The First Great Wall under Qin Shihuangdi at the end of the Warring States Period .
Guyang (Qin) ( 固 阳 秦 长城 , Guyang Qin changcheng ), the Great Wall of the Qin State of Nalinta ( 纳林塔 秦国 长城 遗址 , Nalinta Qinguo changcheng yizhi ), the Qin Age Great Wall of Xiaoyutai in Xiaoyutai , Yinshan , Inner Mongolia ( 内蒙古 阴山 小 余 泰 秦 长城 , Neimenggu Yinshan Xiaoyutai Qin Changcheng ) a. a.
|Great Wall of
|206 BC BC – 8 AD, 25–220||
漢 長城 / 汉 长城
|Han Dynasty , the Great Wall west of the Yellow River , Loulan|
|Great Wall of
the Northern Wei
|352 / 386-584||
北魏 長城 / 北魏 长城
At Wei Changcheng
Northern Wei Dynasty
Hexi -section 352–361, Henan -section n. Known
the Great Wall of the Eastern Wei (Dong Wei, 534–550) 东魏 长城 , Dong Wei Changcheng
of Northern Qi
北齊 長城 / 北齐 长城
At Qi Changcheng
|Northern Qi Dynasty|
Zhou Great Wall
北周 長城 / 北周 长城
Bei Zhou Changcheng
|The defensive wall of the Northern Zhou Dynasty|
|Great Wall of
隋 長城 / 隋 长城
唐 長城 / 唐 长城
|The Mudanjiang boundary wall of the Tang Dynasty , the north-eastern part of the Great Wall|
北宋 長城 / 北宋 长城
At Song Changcheng
|Song Dynasty . Additionally the " willow branch boundary " ( 柳條 邊 , liutiao bian )|
|Great Wall of
遼 長城 / 辽 长城
|Great Wall of
金 長城 / 金 长城
|Jin Dynasty of the Jurds|
|Great Wall of
明 長城 / 明 长城
|Ming Dynasty , the Shijiazhuang Great Wall|
|Great Wall in South China||1368-1644||
苗疆 長城 / 苗疆 长城
|The Miaojiang Border Wall, not part of the Great Wall|
The Great Wall as a World Heritage Site
While some parts of the wall near tourist centers have been preserved or even restored , large parts of the wall are in poor condition today. Some of them are used by local villagers as a stone spring for houses and streets. Sections of the wall were also painted with graffiti or torn down to make room for other construction projects. The wall has been protected since 2006 and it is forbidden to use it as a quarry. The “ Society of the Great Wall of China ” is committed to preservation.
In 2007, the Great Wall of China was voted one of the “ new seven wonders of the world ” by 70 million people worldwide as part of a private initiative . Both UNESCO as the official guardian of the world cultural heritage and z. B. Egypt (Ancient Wonders of the World : Pyramids of Gizeh ) distanced themselves from the choice described as a "private campaign" without scientific criteria.
Visibility from space
It has long been said that the Great Wall of China is the only structure that can be seen from space with the naked eye. So far, no astronaut has been able to see the Great Wall of China with the naked eye. However, what you could see from a great height with very good visibility would be the shadow of the wall if the sun is low from a suitable point of the compass and the wall creates a wide band of shadows.
China's first astronaut , Yang Liwei , said after his space flight in October 2003: “The view was beautiful. But I couldn't see the Great Wall of China. ”The Chinese government then printed new school books in which this was changed. [Proof?] Even after his Apollo 15 mission, the American astronaut James Irwin declared that it was impossible to see the Great Wall.
Leroy Chiao was able to photograph the Great Wall of China in 2005 from the space station ISS . He used a commercially available camera and a 180 mm telephoto lens. When taking photos, however, he was not sure whether he had the Great Wall of China in the viewfinder. He couldn't make out the Great Wall of China with the naked eye.
It should be noted, however, that the term space is defined very vaguely. Most of the manned space travel in the past took place at an altitude of 300 to 600 km. For comparison: The distance from the earth to the moon is around 380,000 km. To see the structure with the eye from the moon would be impossible.
The wall as a theme in art
The theme of the Great Wall of China has been incorporated into artistic works many times and in different ways. The subject who Franz Kafka in his narrative fragment the construction of the Great Wall (1917) or Max Frisch in his drama The Great Wall processed (1946) literary.
The action-fantasy film The Great Wall (2017) is based on the theme of the Great Wall of China.
The international Great Wall Marathon has been held annually since 1999 . 2,500 marathon runners from over 30 nations conquer the wall over a distance of 42.195 kilometers and overcome 5,164 steps.
In August 2000, the Canadian Kris Holm rode the Great Wall of China on a unicycle with Unicon X participants . Holm only rolled or drove over the continuous parapet and jumped with the unicycle over battlements and / or broken or broken places.
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