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7 Fascinating Great Wall of China Facts

To celebrate the release of the latest Universal Pictures blockbuster, The Great Wall, starring Matt Damon, we have put together 7 of the most fascinating facts about this iconic wonder of the world!


1. The Great Wall cannot be seen from space

Despite it being widely documented as being the only man-made structure to be visible from space, this is in fact a myth and has been confirmed by many astronauts that the Great Wall is in fact not visible from space, at least not with the naked eye!

The Great Wall at Badaling
The Great Wall at Badaling

2. The complete wall exceeds the distance between the North and South Pole

At 13,170 miles (21,196 km) in length, the Great Wall of China is the world’s longest and largest piece of architecture, not to mention the most incredible feat of man-made labour. It is so long, that during the Wall’s operation over 400 years ago, watchtower guards at the Wall’s most easterly point witnessed the sunrise 1 hour and 20 minutes before guards at its most westerly tower!

3. It is not one single wall

The Great Wall of China is made up of a series of defence structures, with each section varying in length and built under the instruction of various dynasties, 11 in total. The section of the wall built during the Ming Dynasty is the best preserved and is approximately 5,500 miles (8,850 km) in length.

The Overhanging Great Wall in Jiayuguan
The Overhanging Great Wall, Jiayuguan

4. The first section of the wall was instructed in c. 220 B.C.

Under a growing threat of invasion from the north, Emperor Qin Shi Huang instructed earlier border structures, built in the Zhou Dynasty, to be connected and extended in order to defend and protect his territory.

5. Ancient sections of the wall from 206 BC–220 AD are still intact

Small sections of the Great Wall of the Han Dynasty are still intact today, surviving more than 2,100 years, despite being constructed entirely from reeds and gravel! These sections can be found approximately 75 miles northwest of Dunhuang.

Remains of the Great Wall in Dunhuang
Remains of the Great Wall in Dunhuang

6. You can run a Great Wall Marathon

Undoubtedly one of the most unusual marathons to run in the world, the Great Wall Marathon has become an internationally renowned event, with over 2,500 runners taking part each year!

7. The Wall is celebrating 30 years as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

UNESCO declared The Great Wall of China as a World Heritage Site in 1987, remarking “The Great Wall has an incomparable symbolic significance in the history of China. Its purpose was to protect China from outside aggression, but also to preserve its culture from the customs of foreign barbarians.”

You can see The Great Wall of China for yourself on one of our epic private rail adventures through this incredible country, including the Tibet & China Rail Discovery from Lhasa to Urumqi and the Silk Road from Beijing to Moscow.

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