Chairman Mao said: Only if you have climbed the Great Wall will you become a real man.
THE GREAT WALL
No matter how much the first time visitor to the wall has read, or how many photographs have been seen, nothing can compare to seeing the real thing. Absolutely amazing. he wall runs approximately 4,000 miles across China from the sea in the east to the far provinces in the west.
The Great Wall construction was begun during the Warring States Period of the 5th century as three separate walls each as a defense from northern nomadic tribes and each other. In the 3rd century BC Qin Shi Huang unified China and he had the walls linked and extended. He is considered the First Emperor of China.
Since then, and through the Ming Dynasty, the wall was strengthened and extended. From the 17th century on the wall was left to deteriorate. Peasants in remote provinces stole bricks for building materials The Manchus, invaders from the north, now ruled China during the Qing Dynasty.
There are several restored Great Wall sites within easy driving from the city.
Badaling in Yanqing County
Mutianyu in Huairou County
Simatai in Miyun County
Badaling is by far the most crowded and touristy. There is a cable car to assist visitors in their climb.
Simatai has no cable car and thus requires more physical stamina to climb to the heights. It has fewer visitors. Not all of the accessible area has been restored, thus could be a problem for older visitors.
Mutianyu has a cable car and is more accessible to climbers. This site is preferred by individual travelers.
Lots of shops and peddlers abound at all restored wall sections. It is a fact of life. Recently other restored areas have opened as well. Many combine a trip to the Great Wall with the Ming Tombs tour.
All the sites are heavily visited by Chinese citizens and visitors as it is so revered in China's turbulent history.
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