When was the Great Wall of China built?

The Great Wall of China was constructed from the 7th Century BC by the Chu State and lasted until 1878 in the Qing Dynasty. The most remaining we see today was built in the Ming Dynasty about 600 years ago.

How long did it take to build the Great Wall of China? - Over 2,500 years

It took more than 2,500 years to finish the construction of the Great Wall. The wall was not built in a single time period, but combined effort of many states and dynasties in history. 

How long ago was the Great Wall of China made? - 2,700 years ago

When was the Wall of China built? As early as the Spring and Autumn Period (770 – 476 BC), the state of Chu started to build the first wall to protect itself from invaders from other states about 2,700 years ago. The Qi, Yan, Wei, Zhao and Qin states later joined the effort.

Ming Great Wall
Badaling Great Wall

After defeating other states and setting up China's first unified dynasty, Qin Dynasty (221 - 207 BC), Emperor Qin Shihuang ordered to connect the separate walls, when the continuous Great Wall of China was formed. It was about 2,200 years ago.

During subsequent dynasties, the wall was extended, repaired or modified. The Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) and Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD) are two time periods when the Great Wall was massively built or restored. The best-known and most visited sections including Badaling, Mutianyu, Simatai and Jinshanling were built during the Ming Dynasty.

 See more How old is Great Wall of China? 

Which dynasty finished the construction of Great Wall of China?

With the end of the cold weapon (no fire or explosives) era, the Great Wall gradually became less important as a military defense system. As a result, the construction also stopped. The final construction was in 1878 during the late Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD).

Construction Timeline of Great Wall of China

7 Cen. BC – 3 Cen. BC in Zhou Dynasty
The dukes of Chu, Qi, Wei, Zhao, and Yan States built separate walls to protect their own states.
214 BC – 204 BC in Qin Dynasty
Emperor Qin Shihuang ordered Mengtian to connect and extend the walls of formers states to defend the northern border.
201BC – 101 BC in Han Dynasty
Emperor Wu commanded improvements to the wall 4 times to block the northern Huns and protect the safety of Silk Road.
423 – 543 in Northern Wei Dynasty
The Great Wall of the Northern Wei Dynasty protected their territory from Rouran, a minority nation.
550 – 565 in Northern Qi Dynasty
Emperors of Northern Qi valued the Great Wall very much, and there were 5 large-scale renovations.
581 – 608 in Sui Dynasty
It was a peaceful period and Emperor Wen of Sui mainly repaired sections built by previous dynasties.
1194 – 1211 in Jin Dynasty
The Wall of the Jin, known as Jin Jiehao, was erected to defend against the northern nomadic tribes.
1368 – 1620 in Ming Dynasty
The construction never stopped in the Ming Dynasty and most sections we see today were built in this period.
1638 – 1878 in Qing Dynasty
The emperors in Qing Dynasty repaired sections built by previous dynasties and built seven new defensive sections.

When was the Qin Great Wall built? – 214 BC to 204BC

In 214 BC, after defeating other states and unifying the Central Plain, Emperor Qin Shihuang  ordered General Mengtian to connect the existing walls and extend them further as a front line to defend against possible invasion from northern nomadic tribes. This took more than 10 years. Therefore, a continuous Great Wall was made for the first time about 2,200 years ago.

When was the Han Great Wall built? – 201 BC to 101 BC

The section built in the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) is the longest. In 201 BC, the second year of Han's establishment, Liubang, the emperor at that time, ordered the Great Wall that King Zhao of the Qin State had previously built to be repaired. In addition, there were also four periods of repair and construction during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. The first time and second times were both in 121 BC to prepare for war with the northern Huns and to guarantee the safety of the Silk Road. The third time was during 111 – 110 BC, and the last time was 104 – 101 BC.

When was the Ming Great Wall built? – 1368 to 1620

The Ming Dynasty spent over 200 years repairing and building the walls, which could be primarily divided into 3 stages. In the 1368 – 1447, during the early Ming Dynasty, the emperors mainly repaired and connected the walls of former dynasties including the Northern Wei (386 – 534), Northern Qi (550 – 577) and Sui (581 – 618). From 1448 to 1566, during the middle Ming Dynasty, the construction of the Great Wall in the north became quite urgent, since the Tartar, a northern nomadic nation, invaded the border constantly. The last stage was during 1567 to 1620, in the late Ming Dynasty. It focused on rebuilding and re-routing the wall to defend against the Jurchen, a minority nation in northeast area at that time.

- Last updated on May. 14, 2023 -
Questions & Answers on When was the Great Wall of China built?
Asked by woo lang from CHINA | May. 11, 2023 21:42Reply
What is the History of the great wall of china
Answers (1)
Answered by Luna | May. 14, 2023 19:42

It was first built from 2000 years ago and all dynasties kept constructing it in later thousands of years.
Asked by adeedt from CANADA | Mar. 22, 2023 11:36Reply
what is the current purpose of the great wall of china?
Answers (1)
Answered by Wendy | Mar. 22, 2023 22:44

As valuable historical relics which cannot be copied, it tells people the past history.
Asked by skylar from USA | Feb. 14, 2023 06:15Reply
how was the great wall built
Answers (1)
Answered by Gina | Feb. 15, 2023 18:26

It was built section by section widely using local materials. If on the mountains, rocks were used; on desert, sand was used. They also built kilns nearby to fire bricks.
Asked by LIA from ICELAND | Jul. 09, 2021 03:04Reply
Answers (1)
Answered by Lilian from JAPAN | Jul. 12, 2021 01:34

It was built to protect the inner mainland of China against the northern nomadic tribes.
Asked by Charles from UNITED STATES | Sep. 26, 2020 11:21Reply
How long is the great wall of China?
Answers (1)
Answered by Ella | Sep. 29, 2020 20:31

21,196.18 kilometers (13,170.70 miles)
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