Built to defend an empire and now crumbling because of it, The Great Wall of China is falling down, and nothing’s there to catch it.
According to the Beijing Times, about 1,219 miles, or 30 percent, of the world wonder has disappeared predominantly due to natural erosion from wind and rain, and the pillaging of bricks by local villagers, and experts warn that not enough is being done to preserve the 70 percent that remains.
Many visitors to the Great Wall only visit a well-preserved stretch at Badaling, near Beijing, which was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). But this upkeep is far from the norm. According to a 2014 survey by the Great Wall of China Society, 74.1 percent of the wall is classified as “poorly preserved,” and, of the remaining 25.9 percent, only 8.2 percent is considered in “good condition.”
Human involvement appears to have played a major role in the Wall’s dilapidation. Tourists traveling to unexploited sections known as the “Wild Great Wall” have accelerated its deterioration in these rather infrastructure-less portions. Additionally, locals residing near the wall can be seen selling bricks to passersby. Even as recently as a few weeks ago, part of the Great Wall in Ningxia was bulldozed for an agriculture development.
The Chinese government has tried combating such reckless destruction, but many groups like The Great Wall Society of China see these attempts at preservation as too soft to reverse the continued destruction. Maybe Karl Pilkington was right. It’s no longer the great wall of China. It’s the “alright” wall of China (see video above).
Tom Burson is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen San Diego but with more sunscreen and jorts.