Today we conquered the Great Wall of China! Well, at least one small section of it. Mutianyu is one of the most beautiful, large and popular sections of the Great Wall stretching about 70km. The wall was built in the mid-6th century and has been re-built since.
One of the newer renovations to the wall is the cable cars that ferry tourists up and down the steep and forested hillside. For the more adventurous guests there is also a toboggan ride on the way down which was great fun!
The Jesuit Johann Grueber was assistant to the head of the Observatory in Beijing, Adam Schall. When rumours spread of Schall’s unorthodox astronomy he sent Grueber back to Europe to present their studies and clear his name. Robert d’Orville went as his companion.
The Jesuits walled along certain parts of the wall, (unfortunately not this part but another further North which we will visit later) they describe the large numbers of people visiting the wall to sit in the shade and take afternoon walks along the top of the wall. So even in the 1600s the Great Wall was quite the tourist attraction!
When the Jesuits visited the Wall it was not just a sight to visit, it was the barrier to China. The gates in the wall let through traders and travellers, sort of like a 17th century boarder control. It also helped to defend against attacks such as the Manchu invasions that began in 1600.
The day was long and hot, but it was hard to leave this incredible place. Especially after being sucked into the mayhem of Beijing, the peace and tranquility of being in such an ancient place surrounded by mountains made us feel like we were on top of the world.