China’s most iconic sight, the Great Wall of China winds its way through the stark landscapes of north China, roughly tracing the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. In 220 BC Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who united China, began to join together earlier fortifications to create a wall that would keep out marauding hordes from the north. It wasn’t until the Ming dynasty started building between the 14th and 17th centuries that the wall we see today started to take shape.
Stretching from Shanhaiguan on the Bohai Sea to Lop Lake in the Gobi Desert – around 4,000 miles, the wall has long been seen as a symbol of power and strength, but also as a barrier between China and the rest of the world. It was given UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1987. There are many sections of the wall easily accessible from Beijing – whether you want an easy walk and well preserved, or a slightly wilder, snaking-through-the-barren-hills type experience, the Great Wall can only be one of the most exciting, magnificent and unbelievable things you’ll ever see.