It developed from a series of fortifications that were built to protect neighbouring territories. As Qin Shi Huang united the empire from around the third century BC he linked these fortifications into a continuous wall to guard against foreign invaders.
Some of the best preserved and dramatic sections of the Great Wall can be found in Beijing province within easy reach of the city.
The area of the Juyongguan Pass also known as the Badaling is closest to Beijing, at just over an hour by road, and so is the most visited part of the wall. In this section the wall has many steep slopes to climb and is approximately 8 meters high and 5 meters wide.
The Mutianyu Great Wall is 70km north east of Beijing and older than the Badaling section. Surrounded by forest and built mainly from granite there are a large concentration of watchtowers in what is widely recognised as the best preserved length of the Wall.
Temple of Heaven
Some 2km south of Tiananmen Square the Temple of Heaven. sits in its own peaceful park and for 5 centuries was the centre of imperial culture.
Completed in 1420, building work began during the reign of Emperor Yongle. The priciple behind the design was to recreate the prime meeting point of earth and heaven. Earth was considered to be "round" with heaven "square" and these shapes are used extensively in the buildings.
The Temple staged the most important ceremony of the imperial year when the emperor prayed for the coming years harvest on solstice day. The Temple is open daily from 8.30am to 8pm, with the buildings closing at 5pm. Entrance to the park costs 10¥ whilst a 30¥ ticket will gain additional access to all buildings.
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