Ming Dynasty Great Wall

The China Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is the most solid, complete and magnificent wall in Chinese history. It was well-designed, and is known for its unique structure. In its time, it was an effective defense system. Most China Great Wall sections that people see today are from the Ming Dynasty such as those at Badaling, Mutianyu, Jinshanling, and Simatai in Beijing. Many have been developed into popular tourist resorts.

Juyongguan Pass of Ming Great Wall, Beijing
Juyongguan Pass, Beijing

 More Photos   Maps

Facts about the Ming Dynasty Great Wall

 It runs from Hushan by the Yalu River in the east  to Jiayuguan Pass in the west.

 The defense system consists of the walls, watchtowers, beacon towers, forts, passes, and cities.

 The wall spans 5,500 miles (8,851.8 kilometers) in northern China. The actual wall takes up 3,890 miles (6259.6 kilometers). Trenches account for 223 miles (359.7 kilometers). Natural barriers such as mountains and rivers occupy 1,387 miles (2,232.5 kilometers).

 The wall passes through 156 counties in 10 regions, including Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Gansu, and Qinghai.

 The height and width of the wall varies according to the terrain. The wall is relatively low and narrow on mountain ridges and other precarious places. It is high and wide on the plains and at military strongholds.

 The construction materials were acquired locally, including packed earth, bricks and stones. Stone slabs and blue bricks were used at the most important sections. 

 The Tumu Fortress along the Ming Dynasty Great Wall in Zhangjiakou of Hebei Province was once breached by the northern Mongols, called Tumu Crisis.

Why Did the Ming Dynasty Build the Great Wall?

The Ming Dynasty was established after overturning the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and driving the Mongols back to the northern grasslands. Nevertheless, the Mongols, who would not take their defeat lying down, often harassed the northern border of the Ming’s territory in central China. During the Ming Dynasty, the Jurchen people of northeast China became powerful and threatened the border security of Ming. Under these critical circumstances, the Ming rulers ordered the Great Wall built to shore up its territory.
 Related Reading: General Qi Jiguang Renovated the Great Wall in the Northern Frontier

Simatai Great Wall, Beijing
Simatai, Beijing
Huangyaguan Pass of Great Wall, Tianjin
Huangyaguan Pass, Tianjin

The wall building never stopped during the rule of the Ming Dynasty for over two centuries. The emperors divided the wall into 9 border districts and established 9 garrisons so that the wall was refurbished and managed more effectively. These garrisons were Liaodong, Jizhen, Xuanfu, Datong, Taiyuan, Yulin (Yansui), Ningxia, Guyuan, and Gansu. Later, two more garrisons, at Changzhen and Zhenbao, were added near the capital city, Beijing. By then, there were 11 garrisons along the Ming Dynasty Wall. Some 97,660 military officers and soldiers were stationed at the garrisons. Many famous sections and pass cities were erected at the garrison sites such as Jiumenkou in Liaodong Garrison, Shanhaiguan in Jizhen Garrison, and Jiayuguan in Gansu Garrison.
 Related Reading: War of Shanhaiguan Pass

Relics of Ming Dynasty Great Wall

In general, the Wall of the Ming Dynasty is better-preserved than that of other dynasties. Apart from the 5,500 miles of walls, there are 7,062 enemy towers, 3,357 protruding watchtowers, 5,723 beacon towers, 1,176 fortresses, and many other buildings along the wall.

Today, many sections are exposed to natural erosion and human destruction, such as Jiankou, Gubeikou, and Lupiguan. Other remote sections are in poorer condition, and disappearing gradually. Laws and regulations are needed to properly protect the wall before it is gone forever.

Jiaoshan Great Wall, Hebei
Jiaoshan, Qinhuangdao, Hebei
Ming Great Wall in Fengzhen County, Inner Mongolia
Ming Dynasty Wall in Fengzhen, Inner Mongolia

Most Famous Sections

Many sections and passes have been renovated and developed to tourist attractions, especially those in Beijing, such as Badaling, Mutianyu, and Juyongguan.

Travel with Us to See the Great Wall:

 Beijing 1-Day Great Wall Tour: to Mutianyu, Forbidden City…
 2 Days Private Beijing Packages: private tour to Forbidden City, Mutianyu…
 1 Days Beijing Mini Group Tour: small group tour to Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Mutianyu…


Further Reading:

 Great Wall History: from Zhou Dynasty to Qing Dynasty
Top 8 Great Wall of China Events in History
 More Great Wall Facts
 How Long is the Great Wall of China?

- Last updated on Jun. 13, 2023 by Catherine He -
Questions & Answers on Ming Dynasty Great Wall
Asked by C from ITALY | Mar. 26, 2017 06:47Reply
Who led the construction of the Great Wall during Ming rule?
Answers (2)
Answered by Francis from DENMARK | Apr. 03, 2017 03:46

C, there were different commanders during different periods of the dyasty, but the most famous one is General Qi Jiguang (1528 - 1588).
Answered by olin | Mar. 10, 2022 21:42

, there were different commanders during different periods of the dyasty, but the most famous one is General Qi Jiguang (1528 - 1588).
Asked by sunatullo from KAZAKHSTAN | Sep. 13, 2015 11:49Reply
What two great structures did the Ming Dynasty build during their rule?
Answers (4)
Answered by Rita from SINGAPORE | Sep. 13, 2015 21:03

The most two influential ones should be the Forbidden City in Beijing, and Ming Great Wall.
Answered by sin from DOMINICA | Feb. 05, 2019 13:13

The Great wall of China and The Forbidden City.
Answered by sinrin from SAINT LUCIA | Feb. 05, 2019 13:14

thx sin
Answered by Olin | Mar. 10, 2022 21:41

The most two influential ones should be the Forbidden City in Beijing, and Ming Great Wall.
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)