History of the Great Wall of China – Timeline of the Great Wall

Everyone knows that The Great Wall of China is the longest wall and biggest ancient architecture in the world. Its zigzag path over the country with steep mountains makes it a unique structure. Moreover, it has an amazing arrangement of scenery from the beaches of Qinhuangdao, to Rocky Mountains around Beijing, to a desert corridor between huge mountain ranges.


Derivation of its name:

  • Chinese name: 长城 (Chángchéng /channg-chnng/ ‘Long Wall’)
  • Other name: 万里长城 (Wàn-Lǐ Chángchéng /wann-lee channg-chnng/ ‘Ten-Thousand-Li-Long Wall’, i.e. ‘the 5,000-Kilometer-Long Wall’)
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Chunqiu Period (770 – 476 BC)



Warring States Period (475 BC-221 BC) – independent states built separate walls to protect their territories from enemies. Moreover, the most well-known structure from this period was the Chu State Great Wall or The Square Wall.



QIN [CHIN] DYNASTY (221 – 207 BC) – after defeating other states, Qin Shi Huang became the first emperor of China. Also, he ordered the attachment of the states’ separate or unconnected walls forming the first sections of the Great Wall of China.

Length Built: 3, 107 miles

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HAN DYNASTY (202 BC – 220 AD) – The death of Qin Shi Huangti ended the Qin Dynasty. Then, Han Dynasty established under the rule of Emperor Gaozu. Additional walls were constructed and existing parts were renovated and reinforced like the Qin Dynasty Wall. The purpose of the Han Dynasty Wall’s wasn’t just to keep the Huns away but also to provide shelter to the ancient Silk Road which connected China to the west.

Length Built: 6, 214 miles



THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN DYNASTIES (420 – 589) – when the Han Dynasty vanished, many others raised creating chaos within the empire. The Northern Wei, Northern Qi, Eastern Wei, and Northern Zhou Dynasties each came up their own sections of The Great Wall to defend their own territories.



SUI DYNASTY (581 – 618) – after the confused years of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, the Sui Dynasty came into existence. The emperors of the dynasty placed great role on territory defense as northern nomadic tribes were a continuous threat. Northern and southern walls were constructed throughout the period. Accordingly, about 2 million laborers did the work in the time period of 28 years.



TANG DYNASTY (618 – 907)

Length Built: 93 miles

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SONG DYNASTY (960 – 1279) – This dynasty had two parts. The first part was the Northern Song. It came after the Tang Dynasty but it was regularly competing with the Liao, Western Xia and Jin Dynasties.



Construction of the Great Wall continued in this period but it failed to stop the Jin Dynasty to takeover in the north. However, Emperor Gaozu of Song was able to escape to the southern part of China and established the dynasty in Lin’an (now Hangzhou) again. This was the Southern Song Dynasty. But the Southern Song did not have enough money to build defense lines on the borders of their claimed territory.



JIN DYNASTY (1115 – 1234) – The Jin Dynasty ruled strongly in the northeastern parts of China after Song Dynasty fell. But threats from the Western Xia and the Mongol Empire continued. So, to protect themselves against the enemies, in 1194, the northernmost section of the wall was constructed. However, natural disasters like drought and objection from ministers cut the construction short. In 1196, construction of the wall was resumed and finished in three years.

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YUAN DYNASTY (1271 – 1368) – The Mongol Empire came through and went on to capture the Southern Song and the Jin Dynasties, the Western Xia and other independent states in China. This was the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty.



MING DYNASTY (1368-1644) – This Dynasty was called “The Great Wall’s Golden Age”. The Ming, in its 200-year rule, build 5,500 miles (8,851.8 kilometers) of the wall in defense against the Tartars, Jurchens and other invading northern tribes. Also, Ming emperors fortified the walls of previous dynasties by doubling and multi-lining them.



QING DYNASTY (1644 – 1911) – Ming Dynasty, despite being so strong failed to stop the cavalries of the Qing Dynasty. The Manchu people established the Qing Dynasty who came from northeastern China. The Qing Dynasty Wall was known as the Willow Line and contained a deep trench with willows planted with it. However, this was not a defense line, but a way to stop the Han people from entering into Northeast China and Inner Mongolia.




“I am that person who dropped her B.Tech (really!) and chose to travel, specifically travel blogging. I’m Manmeet Kaur, a crazy, fun loving and adventurous person from Delhi. I knew I had an interest in writing since I was in school. I didn’t want to be an engineer, doctor or I would say a teacher. My plans were different. I wanted to travel which I guess no one,  specially girl had chosen to do in my family for a living. And like other human beings on this planet I have big dreams too. But my ultimate dream is to travel the world and share my experiences through writing and blogging.” 🙂

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