What was once a symbol of China’s impenetrable strength is showing its age. Now, a massive restoration project is underway.
The iconic barrier that snakes for 5,500 miles across the Chinese landscape was built in various waves and sections beginning around 220 B.C. and throughout the Ming Dynasty into the 1600s. It was originally meant to protect the newly unified country from barbarian invasions. Later, it helped regulate trade and immigration.
Toward the latter half of the second millennium, as physical barriers like this were rendered unnecessary in the new global order, the wall seemed to act as a psychological barrier between China and the rest of the world, and a reminder of the country’s complicated history.
Though it remains one of the world’s most impressive and recognizable manmade structures, and a huge tourism draw, time has not been kind to the Great Wall.