Perhaps, it is difficult to find someone who had never heard about the Great Wall of China. As a general rule, every country in the mass associated with the creation of one-way character. Wall (namely, so with a capital letter I will call it in the future) at least vulgarized than the Eiffel Tower (when Tsvetaeva Voloshin asked what he liked best in Paris, he replied: "Eiffel Tower" - and indignant exclamation interlocutor added - is the only place where it is not visible). However, in contrast to the Eiffel Tower, an image which does not cause misunderstandings, few people imagine, what is actually the Great Wall (or rather walls, as there are several, but more on that later.)
The wall is indeed a symbol of China for the Chinese themselves, and foreigners. At the entrance to the renovated part of the walls, you can see the inscription made by Mao Tse-tung - "If you have not visited the Great Wall of China - you are not a real Chinese." And if you think this is true.
To begin, a little history. In Chinese history, there were three main walls, each length of 10,000 li (5,000 km.). I must say that this number (10,000) is of particular importance in the Chinese tradition. This is due primarily to the counting system adopted in ancient China. For 10,000 there is a special name (Wan), which is close in meaning to the Russian "darkness", ie "very much."
At the gate area Tyananmen (central square in Beijing) hang two slogans "10,000 years of prosperity of China" and "Let there be 10,000 years the Chinese Communist Party." (In old China, this number was used only in relation to the emperor). In total, construction of the wall took 2,000 years (since the 7th century BC to 17th century AD).
First Wall (Qin Dynasty 221 BC -206 BC) connected with the name of the famous "unifier of the Chinese land," Emperor Qin Shi Huang. For its construction were sent 500 thous. People (of a total population of 20 million.) A considerable role in the construction played uchenye- Confucians who Qin Shi Huang thought of lime at the root. Thousands of scientists, branded and shackled, to ensure the timely completion of work. This Chinese "White Sea Canal" (Wall actually built on the bones of people who were driven from across the country) at the time was of great strategic military importance. In the popular mind, this "great building" appeared as the "wailing wall." In one ancient story that knows every student, tells about a loving wife, who learned about the death of her husband, her tears flow down the wall of.
The second wall (Han Dynasty 206BC -220AD) was built to protect against the Huns, who made regular forays into China and order spoiled Wall, Qin Shi Huang structures. For the construction of the third wall (Ming Dynasty 1368-1344) was directed for about 1 million people. Especially on important parts of hardworking Chinese are not limited to the construction of a wall, in some places their number reaches ten. When constructing, focused on the fact that each of the towers of the wall are in sight with two adjacent. Messages transmitted via smoke signals or drumming. In addition, throughout the wall to the center of the city, at a distance of one horse transition from each other has a small reference points on which the messenger with the news could change the futures horse.
All of the above, however, gives very little idea of what is a wall with, if I may say so, an aesthetic point of view. First of all, it should be noted verb that use Chinese to refer to a trip on the wall. In Chinese it is pronounced "pa" and means roughly the same as the English "to climb", ie the rise, ascend, climb, and the like. I must say that the trip to the Wall really means is the above action. The wall itself consists of a large number of stages, which are raised or lowered (for some reason very rarely) in accordance with the terrain features. Thus you creep up from tower to tower, straining his last strength, frantically inhaling mountain air. If it is winter, the stairs to the same covered with a thin layer of ice, making the rise particularly fascinating. And when you stop to rest, some lean Chinese (who looked about 60-70), which in the beginning you did not consider as a competitor, briskly overcome step by step, leaves you behind. Feature rise on the wall (as opposed to climbing a mountain, for example (many mountains in China as "step")) is the absence of peaks that must be conquered. The tower rises behind the tower, one step after another, the higher you take away, the less people around, heady mountain air. . . selection of the other dies mountain romance I leave for the reader.
In ancient times, Wall really is a serious obstacle to anyone who tried to get into the "Middle Kingdom". The only way inside led through special checkpoints that are tightly closed at night (at night they can not be opened under any circumstances, once had to wait until the morning even to the Chinese emperor). In order to be missed for the Wall, the traveler had to get permission from higher authorities. To do this, he gave a peculiar customs declaration to the Head of the garrison, which, after appropriate testing, shipped it to his immediate superiors in the center. Prior to approval of the central authorities, no one had the right to prokinut inside, so the area around the checkpoint was filled with tents and tents traders waiting for permission to enter (sometimes waiting for delayed not for one month).
Around Beijing are a few sections of the wall, available to visitors. The most interesting section neotrestavrirovanny Symatay. Renovated and freshly painted walls of the produce dismal golivudskih scenery, and how I can not believe that all this should've been here for thousands of years. I went to Symatay winter, and it really was one of the strongest impressions of Beijing. Because of the terrible pollution of the atmosphere over the city, Beijing is almost impossible to see the sky. The city is filled with all the shades of gray - gray-red, gray-blue, taupe .... Therefore, the blue sky above Symataem perceived almost as a miracle.
... When the bus carrying tourists drives to the wall, it immediately takes to the ring crowd of Chinese women middle-aged and older. What unites them all is perhaps only the exclusive external deformity and the desire to make money. Since Chinese women are clearly more than us at the door of the bus turns real fight for everyone who dares to go. Some time we do not allow the driver to open the door - the outside world, smiling toothless smile elderly Chinese woman, does not inspire confidence. Finally, we go out. Chinese woman, quickly turning over small feet, trying to keep up with our European wide step. It turns out that they are - guides designed to facilitate and brighten our ascent. They point on the wall and say that this wall, but this tower, there is a river, and in front of a high mountain. Since the value of such information is reasonable doubt, we strongly reject their services, but women do not pay attention to it, they circle around in the vain hope of attracting us with their encyclopedic knowledge. As soon as we climb higher and higher, discouragement and disappointment more clearly show through their wrinkled faces. Finally, we turn back. On the descent to them for us obviously did not keep pace, the distance between us increases and increases, so they no longer can see the curve of the wall and a perky old voice, sends us the last curse, speak mountain echo somewhere far behind.