Great Wall Culture

The Great Wall Culture lies in its long history, significance and the legacy of literature and art, etc.  The Wall shows just how important Chinese culture is and how the citizens of the country are willing to do what it takes to preserve it.

Brief Synthesis

The Great Wall was continuously built from the 3rd century BC to the 17th century AD on the northern border of the country as the great military defence project of successive Chinese Empires, with a total length of more than 20,000 kilometers. The Great Wall begins in the east at Shanhaiguan in Hebei province and ends at Jiayuguan in Gansu province to the west. Its main body consists of walls, horse tracks, watch towers, and shelters on the wall, and includes fortresses and passes along the Wall.

The Great Wall reflects collision and exchanges between agricultural civilizations and nomadic civilizations in ancient China. It provides significant physical evidence of the far-sighted political strategic thinking and mighty military and national defence forces of central empires in ancient China, and is an outstanding example of the superb military architecture, technology and art of ancient China. It embodies unparalleled significance as the national symbol for safeguarding the security of the country and its people.

Silk Road Culture

From the Qin and Han dynasties to the Ming and Qing dynasties, many passes along the great wall became places or centers for ethnic trade in the two major economic and cultural systems of agriculture and animal husbandry. Some of the places gradually developed into important towns along the great wall. The Great Wall not only ensures the normal development of agricultural economy, culture and animal husbandry economy and culture, but also provides a place and convenience for the exchange and mutual supplement of the two, contributing a lot to the regional development. Jiayuguan Pass and Shanhaiguan Pass served as the safeguard of the famous Silk Road, and some vital passes along the wall became the trading ports for merchants to take rest and exchange goods.

Symbolic of of Unification, Separation and Attraction

Unification of China

Over the centuries, the Great Wall has become a symbol of consolidation and strength for the Chinese people. It symbolizes that great achievement can be made with a common will and concerted effort.  While physically representing unification, the wall also shows off the ability for the Chinese people to work together. 

Separation of a Nation

The wall also represents a separation from other countries and the world all together. It shows just how important Chinese culture is and how the citizens of the country are willing to do what it takes to preserve it.

Tourist Icon

Since 1952, the government of the People’s Republic of China opened more than ten sections of the Great Wall to tourism, attracting millions of visitors to experience Chinese culture.

Great Wall Culture – Museums

There are Great Wall Museums in China for you to visit during the China Great Wall Travel. There you can see some collections of the documents and items related to the Great Wall. 

Cultural Significance

The Great Wall has inspired stories, poems, art, opera, and legends around China since it was first constructed. Making it an integral part of everyday life for Chinese people.

Great Wall Legends and Stories

Many legends and tales have left in China about the construction of the Great Wall. Among them, the story of Lady Meng Jiang (Meng Jiangnü), called “Meng Jiangnü’s Bitter Weeping”, is the most moving and known to every household in China.

“Meng Jiangnü’s Bitter Weeping”

Meng Jiangnu’s story is the most famous and widely spread of all the legends about the Great Wall. The story happened during the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC). It tells of how Meng Jiangnu’s bitter weeping made a section of the Great Wall collapse. Meng Jiangnu’s husband Fan Qiliang was caught by federal officials and sent to build the Great Wall. Meng Jiangnu heard nothing from him after his departure, so she set out to look for him. Unfortunately, by the time she reached the great wall she discovered that her husband had already died. Hearing the bad news, she cried her heart out. Her howl caused the collapse of a part of the Great Wall. This legend has been spread widely through textbooks, folk songs and traditional operas. It is well-known in China. This story indicates that the Great Wall is the production of tens of thousands of Chinese commoners.

The Legend of Jiayuguan Pass

Another legend about the Jiayuguan Pass tells of a workman named Yi Kaizhan in the Ming Dynasty (1368BC-1644BC) who was proficient in arithmetic. He calculated that it would need 99,999 bricks to build the Jiayuguan Pass. The supervisor did not believe him and said if they miscalculated by even one brick, then all the workmen would be punished to do hard work for three years. After the completion of the project, one brick was left behind the Xiwong city gate. The supervisor was happy at the sight of the brick and ready to punish them. However Yi Kaizhan said with deliberation that the brick was put there by a supernatural being to fix the wall. A tiny move would cause the collapse of the wall. Therefore the brick was kept there and never moved. It can still be found there today on the tower of the Jiayuguan Pass.

Besides the above mentioned stories about the construction of the China Great Wall, there are also other ones such as Beacon Tower Legend and Zhaojun Going out of the Frontier Pass, etc. All these stories and legends about the wall help to keep alive Chinese history and culture.

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Great Wall Poems and Songs

Over more than 2300 years of Great Wall history, many poems and songs were inspired from the magnificent Great Wall.


The most famous saying about the Great Wall is no doubt “One who fails to reach the Great Wall is no hero.” (“不到长城非好汉” )

This sentence is from one of Mao Zedong (the first chairman of Republic of China)’s poems. The spirit in which it was written has developed a proverb meaning: “He who can’t overcome difficulties is no hero.”

There below is the full poem and translation:

《清平乐·六盘山》                   “Pure Peaceful Happiness, Liupan Mountain”

毛主席,1935年10月                 Chairman Mao, October 1935

天高云淡,                                  Sky high clouds fresh,

望断南飞雁。                              Waiting’s ended for the south-flying geese.

不到长城非好汉,                      Not reaching the Great Wall’s un-hero-some,

屈指行程二万。                          Counting the journey’s twenty thousand li

六盘山上高峰,                           At Liupan Mountain’s high peak,

红旗漫卷西风。                           The red flag freely furls in the west wind.

今日长缨在手,                            Today the long tassel is in hand,

何缚住苍龙?                                 When will we bind the dark blue dragon?













The Great Wall is even mentioned in China’s National Anthem, this shows how iconic the Great Wall is.

起来!                                          Rise up!

不愿做奴隶的人们!                 People who are unwilling to be slaves!

把我们的血肉,                          Use our blood and flesh,

筑成我们新的长城!                  To build our new Great Wall!

……                                                …

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