The Great Wall of China has transformed itself from a primitive 7th-century fortress defense system—designed to protect ancient Chinese dynasties from enemy invasion—into a world-class tourist attraction. There is no “one” wall, but rather an intricate sequence of building blocks, made from cement, rocks and powered dirt, that travel west to east, through several provinces and time zones, before reaching Beijing’s Forbidden City, the historical home of emperors and princes.
A massive 13,171 miles in length, the Great Wall seduces visitors who want to walk across one of the world’s most impressive man-made structures. The bulk of tourists come to see relatively newer sections of the partition, such as Shanhaiguan Pass, built as a military defense by the Ming Dynasty. Travelers can take a train from Beijing South Railway Station to Shanhaiguan Railway Station and walk to the wall’s south gate.