Climbing the Great Wall of China.

There are so many things, facts and figures you could write about this particular structure and they would all make you wonder how it was even possible to build a thing like the Great Wall.

I will not bore you with those, that's what is for. One interesting fact I would like to mention: it is not exactly one wall, but rather a collection of walls as the map by Maximilian Dörrbecker (below) shows.

The part we visited is the part closest to Beijing, Mutianyu. We didn't really consciously choose this part for any particular feature or because it offers specific views that are more spectacular than other parts of the wall that are, perhaps, an hour or two longer drive from Beijing.

Practicality and logistics were the main concerns: not having to spend time in the car that could be spend exploring the wall and timing to minimise the time spend in Beijing peak hour(s) traffic jam.

This particular part of the wall is very well restored. There are also parts that are not (yet) restored and where you'll find hardly any other visitors, interesting to see what the elements did to the wall and experiencing a bit of solitude to enhance the vastness of the country and the structure.

When I say 'Climbing the Great Wall of China', the 'climbing' part is not exaggerated! I think the first and third photo gives you a good impression of the differences in height. And mind you, some parts are quite steep too! Of course you don't have to climb up or down more that you feel comfortable with. I personally didn't do much climbing.

As you can see on the photos we visited the wall just before the proper tourist season starts. There were enough people to force me to concentrate to stay in my 'zone' and not be irritated by the nonsense other visitors say (I can be hypersensitive at times).

I managed to get photos with hardly any people in them by using a tripod and wait for when a group of people disappeared from view, obscured by the wall's structure. To get one people-less image I may have waited 15 minutes at each particular spot. I usually don't like (swarms of) people in my images, unless as a reference for size or when the purpose is to show the crowdedness. (There is also a nice technique to achieve the same result by taking several photos from the exact same spot and have Photoshop average them out. As long as the people are in different spots in each image, you can eliminate them like that too.)

I hope the photos give you a nice impression about the vastness of the landscape, the difference in elevation and the sheer size of (this part of) the wall. Unfortunately it's almost impossible to see how far the wall stretches into the distance. In the first photo try to locate a square structure two thirds from the top down, near the orange foliage (it stands out because it reflects the sunlight), that's a watchtower from the same stretch of the wall. It meanders all the way up and down the mountain ridges, almost as far as the eye can see! Perhaps bring a pair of binoculars if and when you visit the wall yourself.





The content below has been embedded from and I do not claim copyright of that content. The content has been embedded in it's entirety and under the criteria stated in Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic License.

Map of the Great Wall of China.jpg

By Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa) - Self made, using the following sources:
National Geographic's map of the Great Wall
Jan, Michel / Michaud, Roland / Michaud, Sabrina: Die Chinesische Mauer, München 2000 (Hirmer), ISBN 3-7774-8680-9
svg map of Asia from for the orientation map inlay

NASA World Wind for the topological background, adapted in the German graphic lab by Rainer Zenz

A map of the world known to the Han dynasty originally from Saperaud to get the course of the Silk Route

A map of the walls from the Warring States Period from Like tears in rain to get the locations of them

A map of the Warring States originally uploaded by Louis le Grand to understand the political situation in the Warring States Period

This map is the result from a map request to the Kartenwünsche in the Kartenwerkstatt. You can make a request for a new map to us as well.
Deutsch | English | македонски | +/−, CC BY-SA 2.5,