The Great Wall of China is maybe the most popular attraction in the country, it’s a must-see place for visiting. The second day of our stay in the Chinese capital was set aside for the Great Wall. At first we were confused by a group of Finnish tourists, who we met on the bus and joined. It turned out that they were really well prepared and were headed for the Jiankou section. This section of the wall has the most dangerous areas, it has collapsed in many places and it’s difficult to cross. Regardless, you can get the best view and it’s no coincidence that a lot of photographers choose this particular spot to take photos here. So because of how things lined up we lost a lot of time, because our idea was to go to the Mutianyu section. We made an agreement with a local driver, who took us to the entrance and we agreed for him to take us back in a few hours.
The Great Wall of China – Historical Facts
The Great Wall of China is a defense fortification, built more than 2300 years ago, to stop advances from the north. The Wall is the longest in the world and the biggest example of ancient architecture. More than 20 Chinese dynasties worked on fortifying and elongating it, creating the biggest defense fortification in antiquity. This is proof of the far-sighted political and strategic thinking of the Central Empire military forces in ancient China, and is an outstanding example of superb military architecture, technology and art. The Great Wall of China was included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1987. It was included as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007.
The Great Wall of China – Mutianyu
Mutianyu section, part of the Great Wall of China, is one of most famous and popular to visit. Tourists can reach Mutianyu Great Wall in several ways: by foot, by cable car or by chairlift. And then get down by cable car, chairlift or toboggan (slide rail). We got combined chairlift tickets and a toboggan to go back. Going downhill with the toboggan was one of the best experiences and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting this destination.
How Much Time to Spend on the Wall?
Mutianyu Great Wall is located about 70 km. from Beijing, it is around 1.30 hours driving. The best way to get to the wall is early in the morning, so you will avoid the crowd. It will take about 2-3 hours to walk around the wall and take pictures. This part of the wall is 2250 meters long, without counting the part that hasn’t been restored. There are 23 watchtowers, distributed at short intervals along the wall.
Beijing Olympic Village
After returning to Beijing, we visited the Beijing National Stadium, also known as “Bird’s Nest”. Located at the Beijing Olympic Village and especially designed for the Olympic Games in 2008, the opening ceremony and closing ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games will be held there in 2022.
Right across the stadium is located the Beijing National Aquatics Center, also called “the Water Cube”. The design combines modern technology with traditional Chinese values. Contextually the square (cube) symbolizes earth while the circle (stadium) represents the sky. The project was developed by Chinese-Australian architects, which for the first time in the world used the so called “soap bubbles” which aim to represent water. The outer wall of the building looks exactly like soap bubbles and this complex geometry gives it a beautiful view. The building itself is lined with a translucent membrane.