Mysteries of the Great Wall

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The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest engineering wonders on the planet. Every year millions of tourists visit this system of defensive lines – often called the Stone Dragon – that stretches from the mountains to the sea.

The original fortress idea can be traced back to the third century B.C. But there are lots of walls in northern China, built by different dynasties for more than 2,000 years. And the construction was a massive undertaking – experts believe that as many as 400,000 people died during the wall’s assembly, some buried within the structure itself.

Some say the Great Wall of China is more than 4,000 miles in length. It’s a military masterpiece that has witnessed hundreds of battles; A ribbon of stone that can be seen from space.

Yet it still holds many mysteries. There are different faces to the Great Wall of China, some more rare than others. Many parts of the Wall are rarely visited, and segments are still being discovered. One wall is made of wood, layered with branches and gravel. Other walls reveal stone tablets engraved with ancient texts, military towers, stone bombs and bits of pottery.

But why was the Great Wall built at all? How did it serve as both a physical and psychological barrier? And how long is it, really?

British writer and historian William Lindesay has walked thousands of miles along the wall. His life’s obsession has been unlocking the monumental structure’s mysteries.

Follow Lindesay as he walks along the Great Wall, chats with peasants and herders along the way, listens to the songs of their ancestors, follows the Silk Road, and meets with Chinese scholars…

Tune into the premiere of Great Expeditions: Walking the Great Wall on Saturday, April 30th at 8pm ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel!

VIDEO PREVIEW: Many parts of the Great Wall of China are seldom visited and virtually unknown:


  1. randybruce
    April 29, 2011, 1:04 pm

    You are right, the wall has been around a long,long time.We need a wall in the U.S. along our borders.

  2. RobertoSoto
    May 5, 2011, 2:06 am

    Yes, try to explore those rarely visited sections of the Great Wall, never go to the Badaling section unless you want to see people and sellers more than the nature, Mutianyu section can be a much better choice if your staying time there is limite. The wild sections of Great Wall are popular among backpackers, hikers, students and even new couples choose them as the place to shoot their wedding photos.

    The wild sections are much dangerous so never risk if you don’t have a proper preperation. But those places will never let you down because at least, you will not see peoples carving/lettering on every bricks (that’s the Badaling one),,,

    If you have a tent, sleep there and enjoy the sunrise and sunset!

  3. A
    April 26, 2016, 8:10 pm


    Does the USA need a wall along its borders to keep out the Mexicans?
    Think of those people whom you may offend while commenting on the National Geographic.