The True Cost of Building the Wall of China

Development and progress comes at a price. What is beneficial to one group of people can be detrimental to another.

A colossal monument, a wonder of the modern world, a feat of engineering – no matter how you choose to describe the Great Wall of China, it fires imagination and awe inspired wonder at how a wall of this size and scale was built at a time when heavy machinery was not in existence.

Constructed over two millennia, the population of Leeds working on its construction at one time and an overall weight equivalent to 8m elephants, you cannot help but admire the ingenuity, science and technology behind the Great Wall of China.

What Was the Real Cost?

Admired the world over, its construction came at a cost both in term of finances over the 2,000-year construction period, and in the lives of the military and civilians who built it.

In the modern day, it begs the question what is the true financial cost building the wall? Would it still be needed or has the world changed beyond recognition from the times that the wall was built 770BC to the 17th century?

Why Build Walls?


The wall was built for two reasons: to protect valuable trade routes from invasion, and to protect land and provinces of tribes and lords.

These reasons, in the 21st century, may not be as defunct as we thought they would be. But at what cost?

NCC Home Learning’s infographic on the true cost of the Great Wall of China highlights little known facts about the great wonder of the world, that is today a tourist attraction that once kept invaders out and protected valuable trade routes.

The Great Wall of China is visible from space, an amazing feat of engineering and construction in an era when construction methods were primitive. The 6,000km wall was built to protect and defend various Chinese dynasties.

Taking hundreds of two thousand years to complete, it cost $360 million in today’s money.

Its familiar and colossal frame is a tourist attraction popular with visitors from all over the world. But as we marvel as its structure and stand in awe at its height and length, we need to ask ourselves, what was the real cost of building the wall?

Take a look at the true cost of the wall, how it started and why, as well as understand the dynasties that were involved in creating this magnificent structure.

Thanks to for helping us produce this post.