The Great Wall of China, stretching over 20,000 km (13,000 miles) and built over centuries, never effectively prevented invaders from entering China.

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is an ancient series of walls and fortifications, totaling more than 13,000 miles in length, located in northern China. Perhaps the most recognizable symbol of China and its long and vivid history, the Great Wall was originally conceived by Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the third century B.C. as a means of preventing incursions from barbarian nomads. The best-known and best-preserved section of the Great Wall was built in the 14th through 17th centuries A.D., during the Ming dynasty. Though the Great Wall never effectively prevented invaders from entering China, it came to function as a powerful symbol of Chinese civilization’s enduring strength.

Qin Dynasty Construction

Though the beginning of the Great Wall of C… Continue Reading (5 minute read)

11 thoughts on “The Great Wall of China, stretching over 20,000 km (13,000 miles) and built over centuries, never effectively prevented invaders from entering China.”

  1. delugetheory

    I was lucky enough to visit one of the better preserved sections a couple of hours north of Beijing.

    What stuck me first was that the wall was built along the ridges of some pretty formidable mountains. Your first thought is, “Why would they even need this wall? The mountains alone should do the trick.”

    Then you realize the true advantage of the Great Wall — not as a wall, but as a freeway for the rapid movement of troops. (This fact was also affirmed to me by some locals.)

  2. UpsidedownCatfishy

    There’s a great book called Walls: The History if Civilization in Brick and Mortar, that discusses this at length…kind of takes 200 pages just to make this point over and over actually. You can tell it was probably a dissertation turned book, but it’s really interesting and fun to read.

  3. keetojm

    Apparently it was more of a way to bottleneck invaders so the defenders could fire arrows down upon them.

  4. DaBIGmeow888

    It was built to prevent border raids and looting of border villages. That it did effectively.

  5. Kingsolomanhere

    The original “if you build it, he will come” ;and Genghis Khan and the Mongols complied

  6. DarthSanity

    From what I’ve read, it wasn’t really intended to keep invaders out – bribes typically overruled brick and mortar. Rather, it was mainly to prevent invaders from crossing back with their loot.

    The walls that actually defended cities were massive and did prevent invasion – or, at least, generals had to figure out how to go around them. They were so huge in fact that China never really developed artillery. Meanwhile western generals played a game of escalation with bigger guns requiring thicker (but weak in comparison to chinas) walls, with reenforced iron concrete and ultimately steel, resulting in tactical shifts in artillery doctrine. So when those westerners finally invaded China they didn’t need to break down the walls, they’d just shoot over them.

  7. MyNameIsDaveToo

    Any time this is mentioned, I have south park flashbacks

  8. HomeWasGood

    But each defending unit gets +4 defensive bonus, and each adjacent section creates +1 gold and +1 culture. So I’d say pretty worth it

  9. Bigman61

    I think I read somewhere that it was never meant to defend. It was too big to properly man anyway. Its purpose was to limit the ways out of China so the military knew where to focus to catch them after invading.

  10. TheClayroo

    And Mongolia didn’t end up paying for it.

  11. KyojinkaEnkoku

    It did protect against the echolocation alien wolves from space. Matt Damon is descended from China’s “white savior.”

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