The Great Wall at Mutianyu

“HE WHO HAS NOT CLIMBED THE GREAT WALL IS NOT A TRUE MAN”- Mao Zedong

Stretching over an impressive 8,850 km, 21,196 km if you include all of its branches. Made out of stone, earth, wood, and granite, who hasn’t heard of the Great Wall of China? 


Built in the 7th century BC the wall’s purpose was to protect the Chinese Empire against intruders and attacks by tribes of the North. Almost a fifth of China’s population worked on the wall and many workers died during its construction; the wall is also referred to as “the longest cemetery in the world”. Pieces of the wall built over time later joined together are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall. Nowadays a large part of the wall has been restored as it deteriorated over time but the “real” wall can still be found and is definitely worth the trip.

Mutianyu is a section of the Great Wall of China, located about 70km northeast of Beijing. In 1569, this part of the wall too was restored but when you climb your way away from the vendor stalls, tourist and their guides the “real” wall will reveal itself just a little beyond tower 24…

Mutainyu is less busy than other, closer parts of the wall allows for a walk on the “real” wall. The journey from Beijing to Mutianyu is actually quite lovely and should take about two hours, depending on Beijing’s notorious traffic of course. The drive allows for a look into China’s countryside, passing little houses and farms and when getting closer to the wall you can already see it snake its way through the beautiful landscape.

As you make your way up, you will be amongst hundreds of tourists but as it is quite the climb, few make their way past tower 24 where the “real” wall begins. You will have to climb rocks, balance on little ridges and jungle gym your way past trees that have grown out of the ruins. On the way you might pass a lonely backpacker camping on a long trek, see the odd Chinese cooking a meal over a fire and come across animals living in the remains of the wall.
The further you get, the further you will want to go; it is truly stunning. If you get fed up and are ready to go home, walk back to tower 16, where you can take the toboggan and glide your way back down past all the trees and rocks that you have spent hours climbing past.

The feeling of walking on such a significant piece of Chinese history is quite exciting and looking over the landscape and seeing the wall stretch as far as the eye can see is an experience in itself. One moment the sun is shining bright, a few moments later a strong wind blows and snow comes falling down. A visit to the wall is truly mesmerising.

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