WALL WALKING Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming dynasty, was of a very Chinese disposition: he liked walls, the longer the better. His affection for fortification was not merely fanciful: Zhu (also known as Hong Wu) spent 30 years at war with various warlords in his campaign to liberate China from the Mongols. In 1356, Zhu, a Buddhist monk turned soldier, captured Nanjing and declared it his capital. Ten years later, Zhu oversaw the construction of the longest city wall in China: a massive battlement almost 37 kilometers in diameter. Today nearly 21 kilometers are still standing and the...

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