Thursday, April 16, 2009

Beijing (V). The Great Wall

The last full day in China was a day trip to the Great Wall, which was one of reasons why I went to China!! If you think about China, the Great Wall surely pops up in your mind! Don't forget it is the only man-made structure which can be seen from space!!

Before the Great Wall, we stopped for a quick visit to one of the Ming Tombs. The Ming emperors are all buried together in the same area. A bit similar to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. The tomb we went to was interesting, but after all the magnificent places we had visited in China, maybe it was a bit less spectacular.

The tomb was composed of an outer part with nice Chinese gates, which I guess were constructed after the tomb was discovered. The actual tomb is underground and can be accessed. The architecture is in Confucianism style, which is pretty austere compared to the typical colorful temples and gates in China. It was interesting for a change, though.

This is the interior of the tomb, and this is the first gate that was discovered. The history of the discovery is also quite interesting. Some peasants were working the ground when they found an ancient inscription which read: 20 meters towards the mountain and 10 meters underground rests the Emperor. ---> I just invented the figures... but it was something like that. So, excavations started and the tomb was discovered! This is the first gate discovered, in austere white marble:

After visiting the museum, where I learnt about some traditional Chinese art about how to decide the position of a house and how to design it to bring good fortune and long life to the people living in it. Many concepts actually made a lot of sense!

Afterwards, short hop in the bus and to Badaling, the place where we visited the Great Wall. The Great Wall is an awesome place and I do not need to say much about it. I guess almost everybody know why it is where it is and why. If not, think about the Mongolian invasions of China ;) and check wikipedia for a real explanation! :)

This is the typical image everybody in Spain saw when Spanish cyclist won several medals in the road cycling competitions in the Olympics. It was quite interesting to see the panel I had seen before on TV!

And what a climb to get to the furthermost tower: the Seventh Gate of the North, where there are many legends!

At some point, it was sooooo steep! Impressive!!

Most of the time, you were just checking where you stepped and kept on walking uphill without looking around...

But when you raised your head and looked around, the landscape was really inspiring!!

The Great Wall follows the shape of the mountains and goes up and down, turning all the time... It is not only it is a place of extreme beauty, it is also the perfect place for an unforgettable hike!!

Mao used to say that no man is a real man until he climbs the Great Wall. Now I am a real man! ;-)

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