Every year, thousands of tourists flock to the Great Wall of China to take in its centuries-old architecture and sheer enormity. Rebuilt and repaired many times, this marvel has withstood the ravages of time and is a testament to the human spirit.
The world's longest man-made structure, the 15- to 30-foot-tall Great Wall stretches approximately 4,000 miles from Shanhaiguan, China, in the east to Lop Nur in the west.
The first major wall was constructed during the reign of the First Emperor of the Qin dynasty in 208 B.C. Three subsequent walls were built between then and 1620 A.D.
The wall was built to prevent foreigners from crossing the country's northern borders on horseback or easily return to their homelands with stolen property.
Sections of the Great Wall sometimes can be packed with tourists. Summer and fall are its most popular tourist seasons. In winter the Wall is the least crowded, and the snow-covered mountains offer a stunning backdrop.
A 1932 "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" cartoon stated that the Great Wall of China is visible from the moon, and some textbooks have printed this as well. This "fact" is merely an urban legend.
Article Written By Angela Brown
Angela Brown has been a book editor since 1997. She has written for various websites, as well as National Public Radio, Pacifica Radio and more than 20 fiction anthologies. Brown earned a Bachelor of Arts in theater and English from the University of Wisconsin.