Show Mobile Navigation
Facts |

Top 10 Interesting Facts about the Great Wall of China

by Paul Medina
fact checked by Rachel Jones

The Great Wall of China stands today as a testament to the ingenuity and perseverance of the Chinese people. It remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. One of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall is an impressive engineering marvel.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 interesting facts about the Great Wall of China. Standing at 13,171 miles, or 21,196 kilometers, the Great Wall is officially the longest in the world. In fact, if you were going to try to walk the length of it, it would take you at least a year and a half. And with heights between 15 and 30 feet (4.5 and 9.1 meters), it’s impressively tall, too.

Related: Top 10 Fascinating Facts About The Nation Of Taiwan (“Real” China)

10 Workers Weren’t Buried in the Great Wall

Are bodies buried in the Great Wall of China?

There is a popular legend that workers who died during the construction of the Great Wall of China were buried within the wall itself. However, there is little evidence to support this claim, and it is generally considered to be a myth. The legend has been perpetuated in popular culture, including movies and television shows.

Historians believe that the construction of the Great Wall was a massive undertaking that required a tremendous amount of labor and resources. Still, there is no evidence to suggest that workers were deliberately buried alive as a means of “entombing” them within the wall.

While working conditions on the wall were certainly difficult, with workers exposed to extreme heat, cold, and other dangers, there is no historical record of people being buried alive. The workers who died during the construction of the wall were likely given proper burials, as was the custom of the time.

9 The Great Wall Is Not a Continuous Wall

How Was The Great Wall Of China Built? | Blowing-Up History: Seven Wonders

Contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall of China is not a continuous wall. In fact, the Great Wall is made up of a series of walls spaced with fortifications and natural barriers like mountains. While the wall segments vary in length, the largest section is over 5,000 miles (8,046 kilometers) long.

The segments were built at different times and by different dynasties throughout history. The earliest parts of the Great Wall were built in the 7th century BC, during the Warring States period. Over time, additional walls and fortifications were built and connected, creating a more unified defensive structure.

Today, many different sections of the Great Wall are open to visitors, each with its own unique history and characteristics. Some sections of the wall are well-preserved and have been restored, while others are slowly crumbling away.

8 The Great Wall Is Visible from Space

Can You See the Great Wall of China from Space?

This is definitely a little controversial, but it is true! The wall can be visibly captured from space, but probably not with the naked eye—and definitely not from the moon. According to NASA, the structure can be seen with radar imaging from space as long as you have the right weather conditions.

But how is it possible that this colossal structure is visible from space? The answer lies in the fact that the Great Wall is built on high ground and stretches for miles and miles across China’s northern landscape. When viewed from space, the contrast between the wall’s light color and the dark surrounding landscape makes it stand out, especially on clear days and at certain angles.

7 The Great Wall Was Built by Soldiers, Farmers, and Convicts

Archaeologists Discover Ancient Fort by Great Wall of China

Directed by General Meng Tian, the building of the Great Wall required an immense amount of work from human hands. Tian essentially created his own army of prisoners, local farmers, and actual soldiers to finish its construction.

Skilled in combat and engineering, they were able to work together to build the massive fortifications that made up the wall. Farmers were often responsible for clearing the land, digging trenches, and building the foundation of the wall. Criminals were put to work on the wall as a form of punishment and were often forced to work long hours under challenging conditions.

Despite the harsh conditions and difficult labor involved in building the Great Wall, these workers were able to come together and create one of the most impressive architectural wonders in the world.

6 The Great Wall Is Made of Rice

Some of The Great Wall Was Made Out of Rice!

The Great Wall was built using a variety of materials, including brick, tamped earth, and stone. But the most interesting element is what held it all together. The mortar that they used to lay the bricks and stone was made of the typical limestone and water blend, but they added a unique ingredient: sticky rice!

The use of sticky rice as a building material dates back to the Ming Dynasty. The sticky rice was mixed with slaked lime, sand, and water to create a strong and durable material that could withstand the test of time. But why use rice in the first place? When mixed with other materials, the amylopectin in rice creates a sticky and flexible mortar that can better withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters.

In fact, some parts of the Great Wall that were built using the rice mortar are still standing strong today, hundreds of years later. The use of rice in construction was also an important development in the region. It allowed workers to use a locally available and sustainable material instead of importing costly materials from far away.

So the next time you enjoy a bowl of sticky rice, remember that this versatile grain played a vital role in the construction of one of the world’s most impressive architectural wonders—the Great Wall of China.

5 The Great Wall Is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Great Wall – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Wall is recognized around the world for its cultural significance. The Great Wall was originally built over a period of thousands of years, beginning in the 7th century BC and continuing through the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The wall spans over 13,000 miles across northern China, and was built to protect the Chinese empire from invading forces from the north.

But the Great Wall is more than just a military fortification—it’s also a symbol of Chinese culture and identity. The wall is a reflection of the ancient Chinese philosophy of “feng shui,” which emphasized the importance of balancing natural and man-made elements in the environment.

In addition, the Great Wall has played a significant role in Chinese literature, art, and folklore for centuries. Poets and writers have written about the wall’s beauty and grandeur, while artists have depicted it in paintings and other works of art.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Wall is recognized as a cultural treasure that belongs not only to China but to the entire world. It serves as a reminder of the important role that cultural heritage plays in shaping our understanding of the past and our vision for the future.

4 The Great Wall Has Strict Preservation Rules

Preserving the Great Wall

With an estimated 10 million visitors each year, it remains a popular attraction. But is this doing more harm than good? To help combat the slow deterioration of the Great Wall, there are some pretty strict regulations.

Did you know that it’s illegal to take bricks, stones, or any other materials from the Great Wall? That’s right, no souvenirs for you! The Chinese government wants to preserve the wall in its original state, so they don’t allow any alterations or modifications to the wall itself. That means no chipping off bricks or carving your initials into the wall, no matter how tempted you may be.

But that’s not all—the Chinese government has also put limits on how many people can visit certain parts of the wall at any given time. This prevents overcrowding, so the wall doesn’t get damaged from too many feet trampling over it.

In addition, the government has put measures in place to protect the surrounding environment, such as planting trees and vegetation to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. They’ve also limited construction and development in the surrounding areas to prevent any damage to the wall from new buildings or infrastructure.

3 The Great Wall Has Rich Cultural Significance

See China’s Iconic Great Wall From Above | National Geographic

The Great Wall of China has immense cultural significance as it embodies the rich history and cultural identity of China. The wall is not just a physical structure but a symbol of China’s strength, unity, and perseverance. It has served as a cultural and political icon for centuries, inspiring generations of Chinese people to stand strong and defend their homeland.

The Great Wall has been a part of Chinese culture for over 2,000 years and has played a pivotal role in shaping the country’s history. The wall has witnessed numerous battles, conquests, and cultural exchanges, and it continues to inspire awe and admiration from people all over the world.

It has also become a symbol of China’s power and prestige, representing the country’s achievements in science, engineering, and architecture. Its design and construction demonstrate the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the ancient Chinese civilization.

2 The Great Wall Is Home to Rare Plants and Animals

Endangered Species in China

The Great Wall of China is home to a large number of endangered plant and animal species. In fact, the wall and its surrounding areas are considered a biodiversity hotspot, now home to around 1,000 species of plants and over 300 species of animals, many of which are rare or endangered. Some of the endangered species found in the area include the golden takin, the Chinese goral, the black-necked crane, and the snow leopard.

One of the most famous animals that can be found along the Great Wall is the giant panda. While pandas are no longer found on the wall itself, they can be found in the nearby forests and mountains. These iconic animals are an endangered species, with only around 1,800 left in the wild. Another rare animal that can be found in the area is the Chinese giant salamander. This massive amphibian can grow up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) long, making it the largest salamander in the world.

When it comes to plants, the Great Wall is home to a variety of rare and endangered species. One of these is the Chinese water fir, a tree that’s found only in China and is considered critically endangered. Another is the Chinese trumpet creeper, a flowering vine known for its beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers.

1 The Great Wall Repurposes Caves

Mogao Caves (UNESCO/NHK)

The Great Wall of China includes numerous natural caves and man-made tunnels that were used for military purposes. The caves and tunnels provided shelter and storage space for soldiers and weapons, as well as secret passages for communication and surprise attacks. Some of the tunnels were also used for transporting supplies and reinforcements.

But the caves weren’t just used for practical purposes—they also had some pretty cool cultural significance. In fact, some of the caves were used as temples or shrines and were considered sacred by the people who built the wall. They believed that the caves were a spiritual gateway between the earthly world and the heavens above and that the spirits of their ancestors dwelled there.

Today, many of the caves along the Great Wall are still accessible, and you can explore them to get a glimpse into the past. Some of the caves have been turned into museums or cultural sites, where you can learn more about the history and culture of the area.

fact checked by Rachel Jones