Great Wall of China near Badaling.
The Badaling Great Wall, constructed in 1502 (during the Ming Dynasty), once served as a crucial military fortification, and is now the most impressive and representative section of the striking Great Wall. It is located in Yanqing County, about 70 kilometers (43.4 miles) from the downtown area of Beijing. Twisting and turning at an altitude of 1,000 meters (3,281 feet), the Badaling Great Wall appears exceptionally lofty on the undulating mountains. It is an architectural marvel that has been praised by many leaders, from China and around the world. Both Richard Nixon and Margaret Thatcher visited this section of the wall, and in 1987 it was placed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO, a list reserved for destinations considered to have outstanding universal value.
As Badaling was once an important military strategy point, here the wall is comparatively high and firm. It has a length of 3,741 meters (2.3 miles) and it is equipped with dense watchtowers. The wall is about 8.5 meters (27.9 feet) high and slopes inward as it rises in height. The wall is 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) wide at its base, and its rim spans about 5.7 meters (18.7 feet) across. The wall's exterior is composed of large granite slabs that surround layers of loess and gravel. Its coping is made of large bricks that provide a smooth walkway, wide enough for ten people to easily walk side by side. A parapet on the coping once provided a defense barrier against assailants.
Crenellated battlements decorate the parapet's exterior. In the battlement, there are square holes, from which soldiers had an outlook and shot at the enemy. Two-storey castles lie approximately every 400 meters (about 1,312 feet) on the wall. The castle's second floor gave soldiers an additional advantage over attackers; the arched cavity below was used to store artillery and also doubled as a simple dormitory for the watchmen. A number of high beacon towers were built so that when the enemies invaded, signals could be sent out to call for reinforcement.
While the Badaling Great Wall has not served as a military fortification since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it now hosts a number of modern attractions, including a Great Wall Museum and a Great Wall Cinema. The museum and cinema both provide information about the history and culture of the Great Wall.