Construction of The Great Wall of China doesn't take a few days or months, "China Long Wall" has a very long and exciting history — more than 2,300 years. It has different sections that were built in various areas of China by different dynasties. The primary motive of its construction was to protect different territorial borders from Mongols and other invaders. Another reason was to make the Silk Road a safe and secure trade route to flourish the economy of the state.
Qin Dynasty and The Great Wall of China:
When we jump into the defense history of China when the land was divided into multiple kingdoms the northern borders were being protected by small walls even before the idea of a grand wall. During the period of Qin Shi Huang who was the first emperor of a unified China and his dynasty was known as the Qin dynasty the idea of a single and strong wall with multiple surveillance booths was presented. The idea got approved and previously built small walls were demolished to create The Great Wall of China. The idea was to construct a strong 10,000 li long wall (a li is about one-third of a mile) with bricks and after small distance lookout towers would be created for guards, these towers were also supposed to give strength to the wall.
General Meng Tian initially directed the project and gathered a labor force. The people who participated in construction were mostly soldiers, the rest of the force consisted of convicts and commoners and rebels. During the construction of the Great Wall of China, many of the workers died due to work overload, weather conditions and lack of food and other survival resources.
Great Wall of China After the Qin Dynasty:
The wall didn`t serve the purpose of its construction well and the internal affairs of the country didn’t allow its people to focus on it much. So after the death of Qin Shi Huang, the Qin Dynasty fell and much of the Great Wall parts too fell into disrepair.
The locals tried to maintain some part of the wall but they couldn’t be that effective and after the downfall of the Han Dynasty, frontier tribes took the control of northern parts of China. Among those tribes, Northern Wei Dynasty was powerful and the need for safety alarmed them once again. Under the supervision of the Wei Dynasty, the wall was repaired as well as extended to ensure the safety of other tribes as well.
Later the Bei Qi Kingdom commanded to repair some part of the Great Wall of China. Their repair activities were for 900 miles. In times of Sui Dynasty repair and extension of the wall took place again and again. It was the last dynasty that gives the Great Wall of China as a fortification value.
When the Tang Dynasty raised The Great Wall lost its importance because China defeated the Tujue tribe to the north and long-drawn-out past the original northern border protected by the wall. Later came the era of the Song Dynasty and once again state security had a threat from external forces. At that time Liao and Jin peoples from the north side were trying to take over both sides of the Great Wall of China and the nearby areas. So once again the wall played a role in controlling the safety concerns not perfectly but too high extent.
In the 1206 Yuan Dynasty which was established by Mongols, mainly Genghis Khan who conquered China and some parts of Asia and Europe. eventually controlled all of China, parts of Asia and sections of Europe. The Great Wall of China became a center to control security issues and once again the wall started to serve its military fortification purpose. This time Mongols used it for the safety of their dynasty.
Soldiers march through the wall to guard the borders and the caravans traveling to and from Silk Road Trade Routes.
Wall Building During the Ming Dynasty:
Most of the walls that we see today were not originally constructed by the Qin Dynasty. The time, nature and multiple invasions damaged the original construction of the Great Wall of China. The Dynasties coming ruling the land one after another repaired and extended some parts from time to time.
In 1368, Ming Dynasty took control of China and reconstructed the great wall. It was the time when Chinese culture flourished and the trading system became strong. In the starting period of the Ming Dynasty, the border security and construction of the wall was not among the interests of rulers. In 1421, threats from external forces increased and due to trade reasons the capital of China was shifted to Beijing.
The importance of the Great Wall of China highlighted one more time and the Yongle who was the emperor of that order to rebuild the wall. He took great wall reconstruction as the major defensive stance. The new strategy was to not just construct the wall but also provide suitable facilities to on-duty soldiers and their families so that they can settle properly near the wall. So the current long, standing wall was basically constructed in the Ming Dynasty. Major construction activities started in 1474 and the new Great Wall of China also include temples, pagodas, and bridges. Later the wall was extended from the Yalu River in Liaoning Province to the eastern bank of the Taolai River in Gansu Province. It was also winded its way from east to west through today’s Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, and Gansu.
Now the west of Juyong Pass of the great wall is split into southern and northern lines respectively named Outer and Inner Walls. Strategic “pass-ways” (i.e., fortresses) and their gates were positioned along the wall. The Juyong, Darma, and Zijing passes are closest to Beijing, were called the Three Inner Passes, while the added side west was Yanmen, Ningwu, and Piantou, the Three Outer Passes.
All these six pass-ways were heavily garrisoned during the Ming Dynasty period and considered vivacious to the defense of the capital.
Mid-17th Century and Great Wall of China:
In the mid-17th century, the Manchus invaded China from central and southern Manchuria and broke through the Great Wall. They encroached on Beijing and the war evoked that eventually forced the fall of the Ming Dynasty. The Manchus established the Qing Dynasty.
The Qing Dynasty didn’t consider the Great Wall of China as a fortification for the security of their borders. But between the 18th and 20th centuries, the site of the Great Wall appeared as an emblem of strength and modern defensive approach of the Chinese nation. It is not just a wall created by emperors; it is now known as a manifest to showcase the strong historical connection and struggle of the Chinese nation. On the other hand, it psychological represents a barrier to deter foreign cultural, physical and other kinds of influences and exert force over its citizens.
Great Wall China Today:
As now China is a socialist democratic state so the look-after and maintenance of the Great Wall of China is the responsibility of the ruling government. Now the wall is considered the most impressive architectural wonder of human history and is also one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.
In 1987, UNESCO designated the Great Wall of China a World Heritage site. In the 20th century, the state claimed it to be considered as the only man-made structure that can be seen from the moon or space. UNESCO considered the pledge but now the scientists claim that it is not true that the China wall can be seen from the moon. However, in the world maps and satellite pictures people can easily trace the Great Wall of China because of its continuously running miles and miles long.
Over the ages, roadways and small bridges have been cut through the wall or to connect different ways to the wall in various points. Whereas after centuries of negligence many sections have also deteriorated. Approximately 30%+ sections have deteriorated till now.
On the other hand, some sections were reconstructed and some are maintained regularly. In 1950s last major rebuilt was observed at the best-known section of the Great Wall of China. This section is known as Badaling and is located 43 miles (70 km) northwest of Beijing. Every day hundreds of foreign tourists visit this section particularly.
For the ease of travelers, various facilities are being provided over the wall or in nearby areas. Also for the safety of tourists, time to time measures are taken to ensure that the site is a favorite spot for visitors. Various activities are being included in tour packages to make the journey to the Great Wall of China more exciting and thrilling.