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Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development

Why was the Great Wall added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list?


The Great Wall has an incomparable symbolic significance in the history of China. It reflects collision and exchanges between agricultural civilizations and nomadic civilizations in ancient China. Its purpose was to protect China from outside aggression, but also to preserve its culture from the customs of foreign barbarians.

Because its construction implied suffering, it is one of the essential references in Chinese literature, being found in works such as the Soldier’s Ballad of the Han Dynasty or the poems of Du Fu (712-770) and the popular novels of the Ming Dynasty.

The Great Wall is a miracle in human history. No other ancient building in the world has been constructed for so long a time, on such a grand scale and at so tremendous a cost. Dr. Sun Yat-sen once commented that the Great Wall is the most famous work in China and a unique and truly marvelous sight on earth. Neil Armstrong, the first man who set foot on the moon, reported that, there are only two man-made works that can be identified from space and the moon. One is the Great Wall of China; the other is the dykes of Holland. Former US president Nixon said, after he visited the Wall, that only a great nation could build such a great wall.

The Great Wall, both as a cultural relic and unique natural landscape, has its special advantages. It has been widely known among domestic and foreign tourists that one is not a true man unless he climbs up the Great Wall (attributed to Chairman Mao Zedong). When the former prime minister of the UK Edward Heath mounted the Wall, he said, “The past and future of China boast the same charm. …The Great Wall looks much more spectacular than I’ve seen in photos, embroideries or paintings”.

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