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Every trip to Beijing should include a visit to the Great Wall, built more than 2,600 years ago.

Stretching from east to west for more than 4,000 miles, the colossal Great Wall is one of the greatest achievements of Chinese architecture and the only of the world's manmade wonders that can be seen with the naked eye from the moon.

Most visitors to Beijing flock to the wall at Badaling, about 47 miles northwest of the city. A less crowded option is Mutianyu, about 65 miles northeast.

Here, visitors take a cable car or walk up steep steps to the ramparts, climb inside its watch towers, and follow twists and turns that snake along hilltops in either direction.

This section of the wall, constructed durillg the Ming dynasty (1368-l644 A.D.), also protected the nearby tombs of l 3 Ming emperors and their wives.

A third option¡ªonly for the intrepid, since there are no handrails¡ªis Simatai, about 70 miles northeast of the city.

Visitors who are not part of an organized tour can hire a car and driver for a picnic and day trip to the Wall, the Ming Tombs and the Sacred Way, an ancient pathway lined with huge mythical stone animals and guardians, once reserved for royalty.

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