Do you really know the Great Wall of China??

In the 1920s, a terrific National Geographic journalist thought that the Great Wall of China was so gigantic that it would absolutely be the only unnatural object visible from space. So appealing was the idea, and so inaccessible seemed the idea of space travel, that a fable was born that has lingered for almost a century.
Walls have a great history in China. When the country was a tartan of warring mini-states more than 2,200 years ago, defended walls were built to keep rivals afar. After the ruler Qin Shi Huang finally unified the country, he removed them, but then bred the idea of a new wall to keep the northern border protected from the predacity of nomadic tribes, linking an array of forts and citadels to protect his people.
This proto-wall was vitally broken series of hefty earthworks, but it set the pattern for future walls. It wasn't just a protective barrier either. The northern wanders often wanted trade, as well as the raid and constructing a wall, allowed the Chinese to control people and tax goods coming into their area. It was a system that worked great until the rise of the Mongols under Genghis Khan. The excellent leader wasn't going to let any wall get in the path of his world-conquering aim, and China collapsed before the hooves of his armies.
It was the leader of the Han Dynasty, which arose from the ashes of Mongol rule that determined to rebuild the wall to make China great again. The Great Wall as we think of it today is a venture of their efforts. It was a budget-busting venture that by the middle of the 16th century was consuming nearly three-quarters of government revenues and employing hundreds of thousands of workers.
The laborers didn't all build in one ceaseless line. The Great Wall was never one single construction but a continuous series of shorter walls dashed across the unsafe parts of the border. Incredibly, the mortar that holds it along was reinforced by the addition of sticky rice. In some places, the walls were wide enough to ride mounties along, but the in the west you get the wall turns in to just that - a simple narrow barrier.
The finished walls eventually stretched for over 13,000 miles. Ironically, almost as soon as they reached realization they fell into the state of no-use. The Manchu Dynasty who succeeded Han immediately set about expanding the borders of China, rendering most of the Great Wall outmoded.
Around 5,000 miles of the wall still linger today. The remainder was lost through neglect, erosion and demolition throughout the revolution once peasants were inspired to get rid of bricks for house-building.


But can the wall really be observed from space? When the first astronauts were sent into orbit, they had confessed that the legend was more attractive than the reality. While its scope is monumental, its slandering width and construction from earth-colored materials make it imperceptible from orbit. But for visitors to China today, the Great Wall is more astounding when seen from the ground up.

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