The construction of the wall began in the VIII century BC, and lasted until the Ming dynasty (XVII century AD). It started at the time when there were small states throughout China, some of which unified and then decided to connect the walls they were already building to provide protection against a possible invasion. As time went by the wall was constantly extended, repaired, and modified. It was built probably by soldiers, criminals, and common people, with a very high death rate because of harsh conditions and heavy work. The wall, together with its towers, passes, and fortifications, provided an elaborate defense system. 


There are two most visited sections of the wall when coming from Beijing: Badaling and Mutianyu. Both are well preserved, so it really depends how much time you have. 


Badaling is a better option if you are pressed for time. It is closer to Beijing and you can even reach it with public transportation. It is the best preserved part, and wider than other preserved sections, and a little easier to climb/walk. As this is the most popular part of the wall for visitors, it is usually crowded, and during some local holidays in May and October it gets even worse.


We opted for Mutianyu, the other popular spot that is a little further away from Beijing and you have to get a driver to take you. It is less crowded, and on your way down you can take the luge (which I have to admit was one of the reasons for choosing this spot). Sliding down from the Great Wall of China is as good as it gets. 


Before going up to the wall in the gondola we had great dumplings in a local dive bar with our driver, and it was one of the best meals we had in China. On the way to the wall you should stop by and visit Ming Tombs. We organized our tour through our guide, and everything worked out perfectly.