A series of ancient forts used to protect villages from nomadic attackers are now a legend. Known as the great Wall of China this unique structure spans two thousand years.
The First emperor of the Qin dynasty, Qin Shi Huang unified the nation and began connecting the forts to create a lasting stronghold that now give the Chinese people several links to their diverse past. Protection was needed due to the differences in economic circumstances of the people in the surrounding, less productive, less populated areas. Villagers were attacked and towns raided by the poverty stricken outcasts and bandits roaming the mountains. The Mongols and Manchurians, two of the culprits, would later conquer the Ming dynasty.
The portion of the Great Wall that was constructed by the Qin dynasty reaches from Linyao of Gansu Province to the east of Leaoning Province, 5000 kilometers. The length of the Han dynasty construction starts east of Leaoning to Lop Nur in the south east part of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The most expense and care was taken by the Ming dynasty that is credited with finishing the Great wall from Hu Hill in Hushan by the Yula river to Jeayuguan Pass of Guang Su Province. Through all dynasties sacred Buddhist and Taoist mountain temples remain as evidence of a highly intelligent people. The Great Wall itself is a testament to a long continuous civilization. With more than forty centuries of culture, China leads the world with strong philosophical interest and values reaching into the present.
Shan Hai Pass the eastern end of the wall is where the Bohai sea is located. Known as “Old dragon’s head, legend claims it is where the dragon dips it’s head into the sea. A well preserved fortress it is important to the overall structure of the historical monument. Today, Shan Hai Pass hosts a small airport which connects many tourist to Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Wuhan.
Han Great wall on the Arid Gobi desert was a challenge for builders with ancient construction techniques.
Reeds and stems, used for their strength, are laid flat in a wooded frame. Next they are covered in a gravel water mix and dried. The end product was a heavy sheet of brick. Han placed tower fifteen to thirty miles apart with smoke columns to warn the villagers of attacks. This proved to be an effective and fast way to send messages at the time. The Great Wall began as structures of stone, dirt and wood but were later covered in stone by the Ming dynasty. During the Han dynasty was considered the golden age of art, technology and politics for the Chinese people. Those who refer to themselves as people of Han make up 92% of the population.
The first location to open to tourist was Badaling Great Wall. With an altitude of over 3280 ft, this fort was useful in the warring years of China. Forty three miles north of Beijing it is the outpost of Juyonguan Pass. This section of the wall is a representative of the rich history in the area. Erected at the top of a group of mountain ranges a thousand feet high the image is that of a strong dragon winding it’s way along.
The military stronghold was made in some parts of huge bar-stone brick. Full military fortification can be seen in every detail of the wall. Although the wall is currently being restored certain portions are prone to vandalism and graffiti. Only 20% of the wall is actually in good condition. As of 2006 regulations have been enacted that forbids removal of any stones, vandalism or driving. The law also forbids building anything that is not designed to restore or protect the wall. Fines for violations can range from $1000 to $500,000 per incident.
Poor restoration efforts have caused concern among citizens who want to keep the monument in as good a condition as is possible. Many believe it is the responsibility of all citizens to protect the wall.
The history and legends surrounding the wall suggest extreme oppression and poverty among the common people, leaving mixed felling about the value of the famous structure.Many laborers were said to have been worked to death. One legend tells of workers being buried inside of the wall. Others tell of injustices and deaths of the craftsmen based on petty differences of opinion and young women committing suicide after losing their lover to the Great Wall.