Postcard: The Great Wall

Since 1972, UNESCO's World Heritage Centre has identified 878 sites around the globe "considered to be of outstanding value to humanity." AAA Travel is a World Heritage Alliance member, and Postcard will feature a different one of these sites in each issue.

You've got to love a monument that comes with its own honorific. It's the Great Wall of China—and for good reason. The edifice is ancient: Construction began in 221 b.c. at the start of the Qin dynasty when walls between formerly warring states were replaced with a single perimeter. Inside: China. Outside: northern tribes eager to invade. The wall continued to expand over the next 1,500 years, with the epic version we know today built during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Roughly 4,000 miles in length—long enough that it could stretch from Beijing to Moscow—it snakes over mountain passes and across a river. No, you can't see it from the moon (a beloved myth), but you can climb one of its watchtowers and gaze out over an enduring empire. A great experience? Always.

AAA can help you plan at trip to China or anywhere else. For more information, visit

This article was first published in November 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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