On Saturday, I went on a group hike to a section of the un-restored Great Wall. This section is far off the tourist path and some work to climb along the wall. The person I ended up hiking with had an app that said we went 5K in 3 hours, so not fast by any stretch of the imagination. The weather was amazing and the views were so worth it.
I learned a lot about the wall from one of the guides, too. This section of wall was first built in the 500s A.D. Then it was restored in the 1500s A.D. The other parts of the wall I’ve been to have been restored again in the last 50 years or so. In the photo below you can see the three layers of wall. The center of the wall is made of rammed earth. They dried it out well (I think with fire) and then dropped heavy logs on it to help it stay together. That rammed earth was covered with a layer of stones. Finally, the stones were covered with a layer of bricks.
Every brick was marked with the year it was made (by designating which year of which emperor) and which kiln or manager made it. That way, if there were problems with bricks they would know who to blame. On a lot of the bricks, the imprint has worn away, but you can still find some.
Although only partially successful in keeping the northern barbarians out of China, the Great Wall is a pretty amazing architectural feat. It snakes over mountains north of Beijing and continues for miles and miles west. Even when you’re standing on top of it, it boggles your mind.
This photo is from the top of one of the towers. I felt like I was on the top of the world!