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4 Great Things You Didn’t Know About the Great Wall

More than 2 300 years old, the Great Wall of China is, unsurprisingly, the world’s longest wall, and also the largest piece of ancient architecture in the world. Officially, 21 196.18 kilometres long, the Great Wall spans 9 provinces. Here are some more great facts about the Great Wall.

#1.)    You can’t see it from space

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Contrary to popular belief, you cannot actually see the Great Wall of China from space with the naked eye. In order to see it, you need some kind of aid, like a telescope. In fact, astronaut Neil Armstrong went on the record, asserting that you can’t see the Wall from space, nor from the Moon.

You can, however, see it from a low orbit. If there are no clouds.

#2.)    The ingredients are, well, strange

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Mostly, the wall is fairly uninteresting when it comes to the building materials used, with stone and bricks being used for most of it. However, a slightly more interesting ingredient was also used: glutinous, or sticky, rice.

Used in the mortar because of its adhesive properties, the rice bound the bricks together. We now know that it is the amylopectin in the rice that helps make the wall so strong.

#3.)    It was a form of community service

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Well, not exactly. But working on the construction of the wall was a popular punishment for criminals, as were maintenance and surveillance, during the Qin Dynasty. These outlaw labourers were distinguished from any civilian workers by having their heads shaved, their faces painted black, and their arms and legs bound in chains. Up to 400 000 workers died while working on the Wall, so it wasn’t exactly a picnic.

#4.)    Parts of it were stripped for the bricks

During China’s Cultural Revolution, between 1966 and 1976, bricks were stripped from many sections of the Wall to be used in the construction of houses and reservoirs. This may be why some parts of the Wall have just completely disappeared, though it is probably not the root cause.

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