When was the Great Wall Of China built

when was the great wall of china built

Anyone who has seen the Great Wall on-site or map must wonder when it was built and how long it took. Well, according to the official record, the construction of the Great Wall lasted over 2000 years, from about the 7th century B.C. to the 17th century A.D.

Inland Walls

At first, the wall was not built along the northern border of China but between different principalities of Western Zhou (1045 B.C. – 771 B.C.) to guard their territories against each other. But these walls were quite shorter than the Great Wall we are now familiar with. They normally stretched hundreds of kilometers, and none exceeded 2000 kilometers.

Walls along the borders

Then, as the nomadic tribes thrived in the grassland, principalities, including Qin, Zhao, and Yan, started to build mud walls along their northern border to monitor their activities and prevent them from ravaging their territories. Official history books recorded several building activities, ranging from 332 B.C. to 300 B.C.

The origin of the Great Wall

When Qin conquered all other principalities and united China in 221 B.C., it devoted enormous effort to renovating the existing walls, connecting them, and building new ones. The material was also upgraded from mud to stone. According to the record, Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor in China) recruited nearly 1 million people for construction, accounting for 5% of the total population. In fact, many researchers attributed the demise of the Qin dynasty partly to this huge project.

By the time when the Qin dynasty was overturned by Han, the embryo of the Great Wall of China had emerged. It stretched over 5,000 kilometers from Gansu, a northwest province, to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.

The subsequent construction

In the following 2000 years, every dynasty had built or renovated the Great Wall to some extent. The last massive construction happened between 1448 and 1566. Back then, the Ming dynasty was plagued by the invasion of nomads from the north and regarded the Great Wall as the best defense strategy. Most of the Great Wall we can see today was constructed during this period.


In conclusion, the first wall in China came into being around the 7th century B.C. In 221 B.C., the embryo of the Great Wall emerged. And the Great Wall we are familiar with today was mostly built from 1448 to 1566.

Other facts about the Great Wall

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