Great Wall of China
China's most famous landmark
While the title of being the only manmade structure visible from space is a fallacy, China's Great Wall is nevertheless one of the wonders of the modern world. It's also not one continuous stretch of wall, but rather a collection of several structures originally constructed to stop nomads pillaging individual kingdoms.
The initial wall was constructed during the Qin dynasty (221 - 207 BC) with additions during the Han, Jin and Ming eras. The condition of the various portions of the Great Wall, which stretches thousands of kilometres, ranges from little more than ruins in some places to perfect architectural examples. The most accessible part of the Great Wall is located right near Beijing. The 3.7 kilometre-long restored Badaling Great Wall section is just 60 kilmetres away from downtown Beijing and the most popular photo op spot for visiting dignitaries and visitors alike.
The Badaling section was built along the ridges of tree-lined mountains and portrays that undulating brick wall image you associate with the iconic structure. The Badaling Great Wall is also a very scenic portion of the wall with countryside that changes dramatically with the seasons from winter snow to autumn leaves and spring blooms to verdant trees in summer. The wall also contains beacon fire towers, which used smoke to warn of invaders; two-storey watchtowers; and city and wall platforms. You can ride the cable car to the top of the wall or climb the sloping steps and steep hills for the view.
Each area of the Great Wall attracts its own fee, so if you are visiting more than one site youll need to pay the different entry prices. The high-speed train travels from Beijing North to Badaling and then it's a 24-minute walk to the ticket office.