The Great Wall of China, also known as Chángchéng in Chinese, is the longest wall in the world and was constructed as a defensive structure in antiquity. It has been more than 2300 years since The Great Wall of China was started building. It was built from the Pre-Warring Period of Chinese history (770–221 BC) until the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The Great Wall of China’s construction was halted after the Ming Dynasty when the Qing Dynasty seized control of the majority of China.

The First Emperor of Qin built the northern walls to deter invasion from northern nations, and the Han Dynasty emperors extended the Great Wall far into present-day western China to safeguard the Silk Road trade. Even though the majority of the Great Wall of China is now completely ruined, the remaining sections continue to draw visitors. The great wall has brought attention as the historical symbol of China, but due to its extensive history and current state of danger to tourists, restoration work is necessary. The Chinese government began restoring the Great Wall of China in 1957 with the Badling Section of the wall. Subsequently, more sections of the wall were restored, and more are still being restored. The restoration process is still ongoing and could take more years, but the timelines below outline some of the notable events that led to the restoration of various parts of the wall.

Timeline of restoration: The Great Wall of China - Sheet1
Jiankou section of Great wall of China_©Amanda Ruggeri.jpg

Timeline of Restoration Process and Major Events | The Great Wall of China 

1952: The Great Wall was first proposed for repair by scholar-turned-bureaucrat Guo Moruo.

1957: The most well-known section was rebuilt at Badaling (43 miles [70 km] northwest of Beijing), where it was the first area to be made accessible to the public following the establishment of the PRC.

1966-76: Numerous kilometers of the Great Wall, which had already been harmed by previous wars and eroded by wind and rain, were purposefully destroyed during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1966) by ardent Red Guards who saw it as one of the “Four Olds” that needed to be eliminated in the new China.

1970: The great wall of China opened to the Public 

The 1980s: The reformist leader Deng Xiaoping launched the “Love our China and restore our Great Wall” campaign to maintain and repair the Great Wall.

1987: UNESCO declared the Great Wall to be a World Heritage Site.

2002: The Great Wall was included on the World’s 100 Most Endangered Sites list by the World Monuments Fund, a New York-based organization.

2003: The Chinese government began passing laws to preserve the Great Wall.

2006: The Chinese government set up the “Great Wall Protection Ordinance.”

2007: The Great Wall of China was labeled as the New Seven Wonders of the World.

2012: As reported by the National Cultural Heritage Administration, 22% of the Ming Great Wall has vanished, with 1,961 km (1,219 mi) of wall gone.

2014: A section of the wall nearer to the provinces of Liaoning and Hebei was repaired using concrete, which drew a lot of criticism.

2015: Jiankou section of the wall has started to be restored.

2019:   China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation introduces “the Great wall Protector” Plan for Fundraising for Wall

2022: The restoration project is ongoing.

Characteristics of the wall restoration process

According to the Report on the state of conservation of the great wall (china) (2019-2020), the government and the people adopted the following six key characteristics while restoring the wall:

  1. Constant advancement in conservation design
  2. Continually improved capacity for conservation and management
  3. Expanded ability to repair
  4. International cooperation
  5. Social participation
  6. Developments of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-Speed Railway
Timeline of restoration: The Great Wall of China - Sheet2
3D mapping and a computer algorithm offer engineers valuable information about the wall_©Peking University.jpg

Principle of restoration of wall | The Great Wall of China

Chinese cultural heritage conservators have furthered their understanding of Great Wall conservation and repair concepts through consistent practice and theoretical investigation. The principles that the conservators have adopted for the protection of the great wall are listed below.

  • The principle of protecting the original state and emphasizing comprehensive protection of values formed during the historical process
  •  The principle of minimal intervention
  • The “prevent first” principle. Preventive conservation must be put first to reduce intervention in the Great Wall. 
  • The principle of protection by category. 
  • Grade-specific protection measures should be worked out by the state of preservation, including measures for maintenance, rescue and reinforcement, and repair. 
  • State of preservation should be identified and categorized in line with the Evaluation Criteria for the State of Preservation of Great Wall Resources in the Handbook on Surveys of Great Wall Resources.

Present Condition of Great Wall

Although the great wall was once thought to have a defensive length equal to half of the equator, only 10% of it is still standing today, and 30% of the wall built during the Ming dynasty, or about 2600 kilometers, has vanished completely with no trace. The wall’s height has decreased from more than 5 m (16 ft 5 in) to less than 2 m in some locations (6 ft 7 in). The various square lookout towers that are depicted in the most well-known pictures of the wall are no longer there. Natural forces and human activity were among the factors blamed for the wall’s demise. Below are some of the explanations for the disappearance of the wall.

  • The Great Wall has endured countless years of sunlight, rain, wind, storms, mudslides, and earthquakes, among other natural disasters.
  • Many of the wall’s western sections were built with mud rather than brick and stone, making them more prone to erosion.
  • The Great Wall has been significantly damaged by human activity. The locals take bricks and stones from the Great Wall for their purposes, such as constructing livestock pens. Even parts of the Great Wall were removed to construct roads and railroads.
  • The Great Wall has also suffered because of the growth of tourism. At the base of the wall, for instance, farmhouses and other public amenities have been constructed. Instead of being preserved, some sections were changed to accommodate different purposes.
The wall of travelers on the great wall of China_©Echo Huang.jpg

Steps for Great Wall Protection

Although the Great Wall has sustained significant damage over the years, the Chinese government is now committed to preserving and repairing it. The “Great Wall Protection Ordinance” was implemented by the Chinese government in 2006. The protection and restoration of the Great Wall is a growing concern for the Chinese government and populace. 

The few actions that can be taken and taken by the government to safeguard the wall are listed below:

  • Actions Toward Natural Factors
  • To lessen storm damage on the plains and deserts, a protective forest belt should be established.
  • To keep the Great Wall dry, the waterproofing layers should be repaired, and a waterproofing agent sprayed on them.
  • The government is urging the public to protect and enhance the environment to lessen acid rain, which is a significant issue for the Great Wall.
  • The government has put regulations in place to forbid grazing and other undesirable actions on the Great Wall.
  • Actions Toward Human Activities
    • The government has stepped up its efforts to inform locals that removing bricks and other construction materials from the Great Wall is forbidden. It aims to make sure that the Great Wall is not directly impacted by the building of roads and other public facilities.
    • To safeguard the Great Wall, it is stepping up the enforcement of these rules. 
    • Tourists who leave trash behind, commit graffiti, or engage in other destructive behaviour may face severe penalties.


The Great Wall of China, which has a long history, is still standing, but a large portion of it has completely disappeared due to environmental changes. The government and numerous NGOs have worked to restore the wall to its original state because it is an important symbol of Chinese history. As the wall was constructed in pieces all over China, restoration work is still ongoing in many areas. Although the process is not yet complete, the wall’s appearance constantly evokes the Chinese kingdom’s defensive nature.


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Ruggeri, A., 2020. Jiankou: China’s remote and dangerous Great Wall. [Online]
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Architect Neha Bhardwaj has a master's degree in architecture pedagogy. She loves to teach architecture and works hard to make it understandable for her students. Along with architecture, she enjoys writing about her feelings and views poetry as a form of architecture or vice versa.