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With its breathtaking views and global recognition as the world’s largest structure of ancient architecture to date, it is no surprise that The Great Wall of China is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This Easter I travelled to the Great Wall in order to experience for myself such an ancient legacy.
I decided to explore the less-ventured and less tourist-ridden section of the wall known as Jiankou, located in the mountain ridges of Xizhazi Village. This area of wall has not been recently restored, unlike other more frequently visited sections such as Badaling, so you can really appreciate the antiquity and grandeur of the structure, which spans 373 miles and contains around 827 city wall platforms.
This section of wall appealed to me for many reasons, one being the fact that I wouldn’t be surrounded by hordes of tourists (the wall welcomes over four million visitors per year) and that I could escape the hustle and bustle of Beijing. Another attraction was its evident beauty. This area of wall is constructed from local material, dolomite, a striking white rock, setting it apart from others.
Although it’s challenging to reach the wall (it involves an hour-long steep ascent), the views are definitely worth the sweat and tears. Jiankou, with an English translation of ‘arrow’s nock’ due to the narrow steep paths and mountain faces that resemble an arrow shape, is known as one of the more dangerous sections of The Great Wall. Landslides and steep peaks characterise this part of the wall, so it’s an appealing choice for the daredevils and adrenaline-junkies amongst us.
I would definitely recommend a visit to this area for its beautiful scenery and sights such as ‘The Nine-Eye Tower’, which was an important command post during the ancient wars, but it is definitely not for the faint-hearted! The highlight of the day was without a doubt climbing up ‘The Sky Stair’, a part of the wall which has a 70 to 80 degree angle of elevation. The views at the top were outstanding and clear skies meant that I was able to look out for miles across the wall.
One aspect of the Great Wall that really stood out for me was the diversity. With six unique sections, there is something to suit everyone’s tastes, whether you want a more leisurely experience of the wall at Badaling where the wall has been more restored for tourism, or whether you are nostalgic for old times. Visiting The Great Wall isn’t simply another ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt’ moment. Instead, it is an unforgettable and unique experience that will remain with you forever.
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University of Birmingham