The Badaling Great Wall, constructed in 1502 (during the Ming Dynasty), once served as a crucial military fortification, and is now the most impressive and representative section of the striking Great Wall. It is located in Yanqing County, about 70 kilometers (43.4 miles) from the downtown area of Beijing. Twisting and turning at an altitude of 1,000 meters (3,281 feet), the Badaling Great Wall appears exceptionally lofty on the undulating mountains. It is an architectural marvel that has been praised by many leaders, from China and around the world. Both Richard Nixon and Margaret Thatcher visited this section of the wall, and in 1987 it was placed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO, a list reserved for destinations considered to have outstanding universal value.
As Badaling was once an important military strategy point, here the wall is comparatively high and firm. It has a length of 3,741 meters (2.3 miles) and it is equipped with dense watchtowers. The wall is about 8.5 meters (27.9 feet) high and slopes inward as it rises in height. The wall is 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) wide at its base, and its rim spans about 5.7 meters (18.7 feet) across. The wall's exterior is composed of large granite slabs that surround layers of loess and gravel. Its coping is made of large bricks that provide a smooth walkway, wide enough for ten people to easily walk side by side. A parapet on the coping once provided a defense barrier against assailants.