- The Great Wall -

The Great Wall
- from the slopes above the Juyongguan Pass -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)


The Great Wall - - - -
I believe, that whenever people think of China, then the most common association that appears in the mind about that great country,- is first of all -, The Great Wall!
Nothing is more synonymous with China,- than that particular construction.
NOT without reason - - - -

Actually the term,- "The Great Wall" -, is not a very good description, since the Wall is not one continuous structure, but rather a system of many different sections and branches spread over a huge territory of land in the northern part of China,- from east to west - - -

I all began way back in the 7th. century B.C.,- when local, rivaling Kings started to build walls for defense purposes,- not so much against a common outside enemy-, but against each other.
About 500 years later, - when China was unified under a central power,- the Qin dynasty-,the different walls were joined together and extended to about 10.000 li,- or about 5000 kilometers.
These 10.000 li was most likely the origin of the name ,- the "10.000 Li Wall"-, which I believe is preferred by the Chinese people, while the "Great Wall" is the name mostly used by Westerners.

The purpose was now to defend the unified country against the Mongol tribes to the north,- which often swept into Chinese territory to raid  towns and villages,- which were virtually defenseless against the swift attacks by those  expert horsemen!

But also the Chinese name, Wan Li Chang Cheng,- the "10.000 Li Wall" -, is not a good description.
It is far to modest - - - -
Because, - over the next 1600 years every succeeding Chinese dynasty has added to the wall with new sections and branches,- as well as performing extensive renovations of the older parts.

Therefore,- today the wall does NOT cover only 10.000 li ,- but has over the years grown to a length which is more like 100.000 li -, and even that might not be enough if all parallel sections and branches and connecting walls are included.
Also there are parts of the wall which has not yet been discovered,- but some modern estimates of the total length of the whole structure,- is more than 50.000 kilometers!

50.000 kilometers!!!!
Unbelievable - - - -
And that makes the Great Wall,- not only by far the biggest construction project ever made by man -, but also it is  the longest lasting construction job ever performed, made within a time span of more than 2000 years!
Actually you can say that the job is still going on, because the Chinese government has launched a program of extensive renovation of selected sections of the wall.
Therefore, - it is not wrong to say, that the Chinese of our time, have continued the tradition, which was started by their ingenious ancestors for about 2700 years ago!
Never in the history of mankind, has anything of similar magnitude been made, and it is more than doubtful that it ever will!

I have had the good fortune to visit a few places along those 50.000 kilometers of "Great Wall",- and it is with great pleasure that I hereby attach some of my many impressions from  those trips,- as seen through my camera lenses - - - -.
I am quite sure, that I will return to China many more times to see and learn more - - - -

Please enjoy my impressions from:

1)   The "Great Wall" at  Juyongguan  , - the "Pass of Conscripted Labourers"!

2)   The "Great Wall" at  the magnificent  Huangyaguan  pass.

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Updated:   May 21. 2003
                Nov. 22nd. 2004