Prepare, Sustain, Thrive and Survive Simply
“Build That Wall!”
Refrain enthusiastically shouted during packed Donald Trump Republican campaign rallies around the US in 2016.
“Tear down this wall!”
Part of a speech made by Republican US President Ronald Reagan in West Berlin June 12, 1987, calling for Soviet Union leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, to remove the wall that had divided West and East Berlin since 1961.
Note: There are many fine images of walls on the Internet and I encourage you to click the links, look at them and ponder, as they are quite interesting. I don’t have time to research and acquire copyright permissions, so please click on the description links to view them on their respective sites as they carry a lot of impact.
With all the talk of a wall on the southern border, we are probably all deciding whether walls hurt or help. Are walls effective for their purposes? Do they have unintended consequences? Each of us has a personal experience with walls — both comforting and frustrating. We can learn quite a bit from this summary of wall history and from the experiences other people have had with walls.
As a US immigrant from West Germany, our family discussions occasionally drifted to walls and how we hoped humans would progress past the desire to endlessly build and demolish them. I viewed national walls as an example of people’s inability to get along.
But as an adult, I admit, I have wished for a section of land with a house in the middle that I could fortify with a perimeter to get away from anybody I deemed a threat to my freedom and security. And I have heard plenty of other people express the same desire.
As a culture, we demand security walls, such as those that incarcerate 2.3 million people in various correctional facilities in the US today. There are many other walls we accept and desire, including gated communities, privacy fences, and the walls that keep us safe in our dwellings.
Some walls keep people out and some keep them in. Problems arise when governments build border walls that arbitrarily separate families, or when they say they are building them to keep bad people out, then use them instead to keep them in. That’s what happened in Germany, so who’s to say it won’t happen again?
No matter how you feel about walls, you may be surprised at how many there are and the pride various peoples in countries around the world take in their walls. Wall building seems to be something people have traditionally agreed on and even admired.
What will President Elect Donald Trump’s southern wall look like? Will it be a long and ugly drab ominous slab of concrete with razor wire on top? Might it be a finely crafted thing of beauty, like the many walls depicted herein, which embody fascinating stories, and are now tourist attractions and UNESCO World Heritage Sites?
If we must have a wall, and it is just going to be a long gray line of concrete, perhaps the authorities will allow it to become a gathering place for artists from around the world who can decorate it with high quality spray art such as was displayed on the Berlin Wall. Such decoration is currently allowed to persist — and is even encouraged — on other modern walls around the world. Or, can the proposed southern wall be designed to “stack functions” like some ancient walls, thereby incorporating a number of useful purposes? For instance, maybe it can gather water? If we are destined to build yet another wall, I’d like it to be efficient and beautiful, creative and functional.
Here is a Collection of Walls Around the World for Your Education and Entertainment
Anastasian Wall in Turkey (Long Walls of Thrace) – c. 469 A.D.
An ancient stone fortification built by the Byzantines 40 miles west of Istanbul. Originally about 35 miles long, it stretched across the Thracian peninsula from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. Part of a defense system around Constantinople 11 ft. thick and 16 ft. high, with towers, gates, forts, and ditches. It protected Constantinople from invasions from the west by Huns, Slavs and Bulgars. Its length made it difficult to patrol. It fell to ruin after being abandoned in the 7th century. Over the centuries, the stone of more than half of the total length was reused in other local buildings.
From Old Kilpatrick to near Bo’ness, the Antonine Wall was around 37 miles long when completed in 142 AD. The wall featured ridges, crests and escarpments to create a forbidding boundary and visible barrier at the Roman Empire’s northwestern frontier.
Aurelian Walls of Rome – About 271 AD
The Aurelian Walls are a line of city walls that were built to try to keep the Barbarians out when they broke through the frontier and threatened Rome. (Full disclosure: I identify as a Barbarian American). Their construction was by far the largest building project that had taken place in Rome for many decades. Some historians think the walls were intended to send a political statement of Aurelian’s strength as a public declaration of the emperor’s firm hold on power. The 26 ft. high brick-faced concrete walls encircled all the seven hills of Rome and an area of 3,500 acres. They were 11 ft thick and had a square tower every 97 ft. During the 4th century, remodeling doubled the height of the walls to 52 ft. By 500 A.D., and the circuit included 383 towers, 7,020 crenellations, 18 main gates, 5 postern gates, and 116 latrines. Existing buildings were incorporated into the structure, including the Amphitheatrum Castrense, the Castra Praetoria, the Pyramid of Cestius, and even a section of the Aqua Claudia aqueduct. Behind the walls were sentry passages that allowed it to be reinforced quickly in an emergency.
Walls of Ston, Croatia (The European Wall of China) – c. 1334
The Walls of Ston are a series of defensive stone walls, originally more than 4.3 mi long, that surrounded the city of Ston in what is now southern Croatia. They were maintained to protect the precious salt fields that contributed to Dubrovnik’s wealth. Well known builders were commissioned to build the fortifications: Mihac and Bunic were domestic engineers, the Italians Onofrio of Napoli and Bernardin of Parma, the French builder Olivier, and Michelozzo of Florence. Masters Juraj Dalmatinac and Paskoje Milicevic worked on the final polishes by the end of the 15th century. Demolition work began after the fall of the Republic of Ragusa. Later Austrian authorities took materials away from the wall to build schools and community buildings, and also for a triumphal arch on the occasion of the visit by the Austrian Emperor in 1884. The wall around Mali Ston was demolished because it was said to be somehow damaging the health of the people. The demolition was halted after World War II.
Ávila Walls, Spain – UNESCO site 348 – 1090 A.D.
The beautiful Walls of Ávila, pictured at the beginning of this article, are the largest fully illuminated monument in the world. Built during the 11th-14th centuries, the area enclosed is 77 acres. It is built with 88 blocks or semicircular towers, 2,500 merlons, curtain walls of 9 ft. 10 in. thick, with an average height of 39 ft., and 9 gates. Today, it is possible to walk upon the walls themselves for roughly half their circumference.
Barcelona Walls, Spain c. 27 BC to 14 AD
The wall of Barcelona comprised 74 towers and was approximately 52 feet high. Some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the Basilica La Seu. Today, these walls are a tourist attraction. The ruins of an early settlement have been excavated including tombs and dwellings dating to earlier than 5000 B.C. but the origin of the earliest settlement at the site of present-day Barcelona is unclear. It was founded as a Roman colony called Barcino in what is now the Gothic part of the city. Here are maps of where remnants of the Roman walls can be seen today.
Ranikot Fort (The Great Wall of Sindh) Second Largest wall of South Asia – 1600s
Ranikot Fort is a historical fort near Sann, Jamshoro District, Sindh, Pakistan. Ranikot Fort is also known as The Great Wall of Sindh, believed to be among one of the world’s largest forts, measuring about 19 miles long. The northern part of the fort’s perimeter is a natural high hilly formation while the other three sides are fort walls. There is a smaller fort known as the Meeri inside the main fort about 5 miles from the main fort’s entry gate. This is reported to have served as the palace of the Mir royal family. The entire structure is built with stone and lime mortar in a zig-zag form. There is a gate on the western side skirted by the Sann river, so it is difficult to approach. Within the gates there are two niches which have carved stones with floral ornaments. It is believed that the fort was built during the regimes of the Sassanians, the Scythians, the Parthians or the Bactrian Greeks. Some of the present structures were reconstructed by Talpurs in 1812 at a cost of 1.2 million rupees. The battlements of Ranikot formed the last capital of the Amirs of Sind, when they were brought under the colonial rule of the British Empire.
Basel City Walls, Basel, Switzerland – c. 1080
The Basel City Walls are a former complex of walls in the central part of the Swiss city of Basel along the Rhine River. The first city wall encircled a settlement during the time of bishop Burkhard von Fenis. When the town grew up the west slopes surrounding the Birsig River, a new section was built around 1230. This is known as the Inner Wall. A larger wall complex was undertaken from 1362 to 1398, and is known as the Outer Wall. The city’s executive decided to raze the wall and gates in 1859. But three city gates and a short piece of the wall were preserved as part of the city’s heritage.
Cairo Great Wall, Cairo, Egypt – 969 A.D.
The city of Qahira (Cairo) was founded in 969 A.D. as the new royal city of the Fatimid Caliphate. Gawhar El Sakaly, a major army leader during the reign of Al Mui’z, established four brick walls around the city. He also built a huge wall around the palace of Al Mui’z, but this one is no longer preserved. The original Cairo wall was wide enough for two horsemen to ride side by side on top of it. The whole west side ran along the old Red Sea canal. There were two main gates: the Bab Zuweila on the south through which Mui’z entered the city, and Bab el Futuh (the Gate of Succor) on the north. The Mukattam Hills were on the east. Inside the city walls, each group of the population had their own quarters.
The Fatimids built a separate palatial city which contained their palaces and institutions of government. It was enclosed by a circuit of walls, which were rebuilt in stone in 1092 by the vizir Badr al-Gamali, parts of which survive today. The double walled city once had as many as 25 fortified gates that were built by different people in different periods. The primary purpose of the walls was defense, but they also differentiated the various social and economic classes’ districts and movements. There are many carved artistic elements and embellished decorative features around the gates, which depict the ruler’s and city’s victories, power, faith, and influence. Cairo was a closely guarded city. No one was allowed to enter or stay there except for its residents, or those who were allowed in for certain reasons, such as work, during the daytime hours.
Many pharaonic temples were destroyed to construct these walls and gates. That is why one can see large blocks of stone bearing pharaonic inscriptions and motifs. Marble, cut stone and wood were always expensive materials in Egypt, and quarrying old monuments for building materials is still practiced today.
The northern walls are built on three levels. The street level, including the vestibules or entrances halls of the gates, were originally higher than the street, and the gates were reached by ramps. Between the stone blocks, horizontally set columns were used to consolidate the masonry in the lower part of the walls. Steps in the gate towers lead into a corridor through which mounted guards could ride. The second level consisted of galleries connected with vaulted rooms and halls with arrow slits on the outside and larger openings on the city side. These run along the entire length of the walls, except at the junctures of the gates. In 1789, these corridors were widened to accommodate cannons in order to stop Napoleon from invading Cairo. That didn’t work, and Napoleon garrisoned troops within the walls.
Towers are interspersed along the walls with halls and rooms. They protrude, with slits on three sides to allow the guards a full view of the exterior. The third level forms a terrace, protected by the upper part of the walls and their round topped rectangular crenellations. Today, there are stairs so visitors can walk near the walls and view them. It is possible to explore the interior of the gates and walls along the top of by climbing the stairs just inside the neighboring Mosque of Al Hakim, which was made a part of these fortifications, and crossing the roof.
Cheolli Jangseong, (Thousand Li Wall) North Korea and China – 668 A.D.
Cheolli Jangseong refers to two walls: a 7th-century network of military garrisons in present-day Northeast China, and also the 11th-century northern defense structure built during the Goryeo dynasty in present-day North Korea. The Three Kingdoms Period, which began in 57 BC, was when the Korean Peninsula, and part of what is now China and Russia, was dominated by three kingdoms, the largest of which was Goguryeo. After Goguryeo’s victory in the Goguryeo–Sui Wars, in 631 Goguryeo began the fortification of numerous military garrisons after the Tang dynasty, the successor to the Sui in China, began incursions from the northwest. Its construction was completed in 647. When Silla aligned with China, and conquered Goguryeo in a coup (668 A.D) a “great wall” of Goguryeo was constructed that extended from Bohai Bay, to the northeast 300 miles to modern-day Nog’an County in China.
Cheolli Janseong also refers to the stone wall built from 1033 to 1044, during the Goryeo dynasty, in the northern Korean peninsula. Sometimes called Goryeo Jangseong (“Great Wall of Goryeo”), it is roughly 300 miles long and about 24 feet in both height and width. It connected the fortresses built during the reign of Emperor Hyeonjong, passing through these cities and entirely within the territory of today’s North Korea.
Chester city walls England, United Kingdom – 70 A.D.
A defensive structure built to protect the city of Chester in Cheshire, England, these walls are now a major tourist attraction and form an almost complete circuit of the former medieval city, with a total walkway length of 1.8 mi. The wall was started between 70 and 80 AD by the Romans when they established the fortress of Deva Victrix. It began with a rampart of earth and turf surmounted by a wooden palisade. Reconstruction with sandstone occurred from about 100 AD, and this went on for 100 years. When Æthelflæd refounded Chester as a burgh in 907 improvements were made to this wall. After the Norman conquest, the walls were extended to the west and the south to form a complete circuit of the medieval city. They were further fortified before the Civil War, when they were also damaged. Following this they ceased to have a defensive purpose, and were developed for leisure and recreation. Maintenance has been an ongoing concern.
The Great Wall started in 221 A.D. and grew over the centuries to become the world’s largest military structure. The most famous sections were built between the 14th and 17th centuries to defend the Ming Dynasty against the steppe nomads to the north. They stand 25 feet tall and were built using bricks and a mortar made from slaked lime and sticky rice. Gates were positioned along key strongpoints and trade routes, and watchtowers were used to send smoke and fire signals in the event of an attack.The Mongol leader Altan Khan famously bypassed the wall and raided Beijing in 1550, and the Manchus later broke through in 1644 and brought about the fall of the Ming Dynasty.
Walls of Constantinople, Istanbul, Turkey –
A series of defensive stone walls protected the city of Constantinople after it was founded as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Constantine the Great. More than 14 miles included the Theodosian Walls, which blocked armies from advancing from the mainland. They included a moat, a 27-foot outer wall and a massive inner wall that was 40 feet tall and 15 feet thick. Troops stood guard on the ramparts at all times, ready to rain arrows and a type of ancient napalm called “Greek fire” on any enemy that dared attack them. The walls succeeded in turning back a host of would-be conquerors from the Arabs to Attila the Hun, but they finally met their match in 1453, when the Ottoman Empire besieged the city with a frightening new weapon—the cannon. After using their artillery to blast holes in the walls, the Turks poured through the breach and captured Constantinople, effectively toppling the Byzantine Empire.
Conwy Town Walls in Wales, United Kingdom. UNESCO world heritage site – 1283 A.D.
One of the most impressive walls of Europe, the medieval defensive structure in North Wales was constructed between 1283 and 1287 to protect Conwy Castle. The walls are 0.81 mi long and include 21 towers and three gatehouses. The project was completed using many laborers brought from England. The walls were slightly damaged during the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr in 1401. Political changes in the 16th century reduced the need to maintain such defenses around the town. The fortifications were treated sympathetically during the development of the road and railway systems in Conwy during the 19th century and survived largely intact into the modern period.
Danevirke, Denmark A.D. 500?
The Danevirke is a system of Danish walls, trenches, and the Schlei Barrierin Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. This important linear earthwork across the neck of the Cimbrian peninsula was initiated by the Danes in the Nordic Iron Age at some point before 500 AD. It was later expanded multiple times during Denmark’s Viking Age. The Danevirke was last used for military purposes in 1864 during the Second War of Schleswig. The earthwork stretches for 30 km, from the former Viking trade centre of Hedeby near Schleswig on the Baltic Sea coast in the east to the extensive marshlands in the west of the peninsula. One of the walls (named Østvolden), between the Schlei and Eckernförde inlets, defended the Schwansen peninsula.
Recent investigations suggest that the Danevirke main “wall” first consisted of a ditch between two low embankments. This construction would have been used as a shortcut for ships between the Baltic and the North Sea. Some accounts attribute building of the actual Danevirke walls to the legendery queen Thyra, who was the wife of the first historically recognized king of Denmark, Gorm the Old c. 936 – 958. Others say it was started by the Danish King Gudfred in 808 to protect from invasion by the Franks, who had conquered heathen Frisia over the previous 100 years and Old Saxony in 772 to 804. Godfred began work on the enormous structure to defend his realm, separating the Jutland peninsula from the northern extent of the Frankish empire.
With the emergence of national states in Europe during the 1800s, the Danevirke became a powerful symbol for Denmark and for the idea of a unique Danish people and Danish culture. Throughout the nineteenth century, Denmark and Germany struggled politically and militarily for possession of the territory variously known as Sønderjylland or Slesvig by the Danes and Schleswig by the Germans. Two wars were fought, the First Schleswig War (1848-1851) and the Second Schleswig War (1864), eventually resulting in a Danish defeat and subsequent German annexation. In this hostile context, the Danevirke played an important role, at first as a mental cultural barrier against Germany, but soon also as a concrete military fortification, when it was strengthened with cannon emplacements and entrenchments in 1850 and again in 1861.
Derry city walls, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Derry is the finest example of a walled city in Europe and the only remaining completely intact walled city in Ireland. This old walled city on the west bank of the River Foyle is spanned by two road bridges and a footbridge. The Walls were built in 1613–1619 as defenses for early 17th century settlers from England and Scotland. The Walls, which are approximately 1 mile in circumference and which vary in height and width between 12 and 35 feet, are completely intact and form a walkway around the inner city. They provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance style street plan. Historic buildings within the walls include the 1633 Gothic cathedral of St Columb, the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall, and the courthouse. The city of Derry is one of the few cities in Europe that never saw its fortifications breached, withstanding several sieges including one in 1689 which lasted 105 days.
Diyarbakır city walls, Turkey. – c. 297 A.D.
The area around Diyarbakır has been inhabited by humans from the stone age with tools from more than 10,000 years ago having been discovered in the nearby Hilar caves. The Romans colonized the city and named it Amida, when the city’s first walls were constructed. Later, the greater walls were built under command of the Roman emperor Constantius II.
The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, Dubrovnik on the coast of Croatia, became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century on. The oldest systems of fortifications around the maritime city-state were likely wooden palisades. The stone Walls of Dubrovnik, were constructed mainly during the 12th–17th centuries. Dubrovnik flourished in peace and prosperity as a sophisticated republic for some five centuries.
The walls were reinforced by three circular and 14 quadrangular towers, five bulwarks, two angular fortifications, and the large St. John’s Fortress. They were additionally reinforced by one larger bastion and nine smaller semicircular ones, like the casemate Fort Bokar, the oldest preserved fort of that kind in Europe. The moat that ran around the outside section of the city walls, which were armed by more than 120 cannons, provided superb city defense capabilities. With numerous additions and modifications throughout their history, this is considered to be amongst the great fortification systems of the Middle Ages. They were never breached by a hostile army during this time period. Today’s intact city walls, are mostly a double line, and have long been a source of pride for Dubrovnik. The walls run an uninterrupted course of approximately 6,360 ft in length, encircling most of the old city, and reaching a maximum height of about 82 ft. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Damaged again in the 1990s by armed conflict, it is now the focus of a major restoration program co-ordinated by UNESCO.
Erdene Zuu monastery wall in Mongolia – part of UNESCO site 1081 – 1585 A.D.
The Erdene Zuu Monastery near the ancient city of Karakorum is probably the earliest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. It is part of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site.
Abtai Sain Khan, ruler of the Khalkha Mongols and grandfather of Zanabazar, the first Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, ordered construction of the Erdene Zuu monastery in 1585 after his meeting with the 3rd Dalai Lama and the declaration of Tibetan Buddhism as the state religion of Mongolia. Stones from the nearby ruins of the ancient Mongol capital of Karakorum were used in its construction. Planners attempted to create a surrounding wall that resembled a Tibetan Buddhist rosary featuring 108 stupas (108 being a sacred number in Buddhism), but this objective was probably never achieved. The monastery’s temple walls were painted, and the Chinese-style roof covered with green tiles.
The monastery was damaged in 1688 during one of the many wars between Dzungars and Khalkha Mongols. Locals dismantled the wooden fortifications of the abandoned monastery. It was rebuilt and by 1872 had a full 62 temples and housed up to 1000 monks. In 1939 the Communist leader Khorloogiin Choibalsan ordered the monastery destroyed, as part of a purge that obliterated hundreds of monasteries in Mongolia and killed over ten thousand monks. Three small temples and the external wall with the stupas survived the initial onslaught and by 1944 Joseph Stalin pressured Choibalsan to maintain the monastery and two others as showpieces for international visitors, such as U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace, to prove that the communist regime allowed freedom of religion. In 1947 the temples were converted to museums and for the four decades Gandantegchinlen Khiid Monastery became Mongolia’s only functioning monastery. After the fall of Communism in Mongolia in 1990, the monastery was turned over to the lamas and Erdene Zuu again became a place of worship. Today Erdene Zuu remains an active Buddhist monastery as well as a museum that is open to tourists.
King’s Wall and Flodden Wall, in Edinburgh, Scotland part of UNESCO site 728 – c.1425–1560)
Edinburgh was formally established as a royal burgh by King David I of Scotland around 1125. This gave the town the privilege of holding a market, and the ability to raise money by taxing goods coming into the burgh for sale. There have been several town walls around Edinburgh since the 12th century, though the first building is recorded in the mid-15th century, when the King’s Wall was constructed. In the 16th century the more extensive Flodden Wall was erected, following the Scots’ defeat at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. This was extended by the Telfer Wall in the early 17th century.
The walls never proved very successful as defensive structures, and were easily breached on more than one occasion. They served more as a means of controlling trade and taxing goods, and as a deterrent to smugglers. By the mid 18th century, the walls had outlived their purposes and demolition began. Today, a number of sections survive.
Fossatum Africae – 1 A.D. or before?
Fossatum Africae (“African ditch”) is a linear defensive structure (limes) claimed to extend over 460 miles or more in northern Africa. This was constructed during the Roman Empire to defend and control the southern borders of the Empire in Africa. There is only a single mention of the Fossatum in historical literature which notes that the Fossatum been established by the “ancients”, and the emperors warned Roman citizens of Africa that if they did not maintain the limes and fossatum then the job (with associated land rights and other advantages) would be given to friendly barbarian tribes.
A structure of this size would be the work of centuries and archaeological excavation has yielded many dates from the reign of Hadrian in the 2nd century to Constantine in the 4th century. Only traces remain.
The Limes Germanicus in Germany – UNESCO site 430 – 83 A.D.
The Roman invaders of Germania built walls to keep the Barbarians from attacking them. Augustus began to build these fortifications after the devastating Roman defeat at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD. The Limes Germanicus was a line of frontier fortifications that bounded the ancient Roman provinces of Germania Inferior, Germania Superior and Raetia, dividing the Roman Empire and the unsubdued Germanic tribes from the years 83 to about 260 AD. Originally there were numerous Limes walls, which were then connected to form the Upper Germanic Limes along the Rhine and the Rhaetian Limes along the Danube. Later these two walls were linked to form a common borderline. At its height, the limes stretched 353 miles and included at least 60 forts and 900 watchtowers between the North Sea outlet of the Rhine to near Regensburg (Castra Regina) on the Danube. Those two major rivers afforded natural protection from mass incursions into imperial territory, with the exception of a gap stretching roughly from Mogontiacum (Mainz) on the Rhine to Castra Regina. The weakest, hence most heavily guarded, was the gap between the westward bend of the Rhine at modern-day Mainz and the main flow of the Danube at Regensburg. This 186-mile wide land corridor between the two great rivers permitted movement of large groups of people without the need for water transport, hence the heavy concentration of forts and towers there, arranged in depth and in multiple layers along waterways, fords, roads, and hilltops. The Saalburg is a reconstructed fortification and museum of the Limes near Frankfurt.
Great Wall of Gorgan in Iran, (World’s second longest wall) – The 400s A.D.
“Also known as the “Red Snake” for its distinctive red-colored bricks, the “Great Wall of Gorgon” was a 121-mile rampart that extended from the southern coast of the Caspian Sea to the Elburz Mountains in what is now Iran. It was once thought to have been the work of Alexander the Great, but more recent research suggests it was built by the Sasanian Persians sometime around the 5th century A.D. When completed, it was one of the longest walls of antiquity and boasted more than 30 forts, a garrison of 30,000 troops and a network of canals that acted as both a water supply system and a defensive moat. Surprisingly little is known about the wall’s history, but most scholars believe the Persians used it to guard against the Hephthalite Huns and other enemies to the north.”
A 73-mile stone barrier built during the reign of Hadrian stretched from England’s Solway Firth to the River Tyne to protect Roman Britains from the Picts and the other Barbarian tribes in northern England and Scotland. Hadrian’s Wall was roughly 10 feet wide and 15 feet high and was dotted with forts manned by frontier troops. Gates spaced one mile apart allowed the garrison to control movement in the region—the wall may have even been used to levy taxes—and defensive towers and ditches protected against raids from the north. Though briefly decommissioned in the 140s in favor of a more northerly barrier called the Antonine Wall, Hadrian’s Wall was later reoccupied and remained an imposing symbol of Roman power until their withdrawal from Britain in the early 5th century. 1,600 years of deterioration and looting for building materials have since reduced it to a fraction of its original size, but many portions still exist today and are among England’s most visited historical sites.
Intramuros Walls, Manila, Philippines – 1590 A.D.
Intramuros (“within the walls”) is the oldest district and historic core of Manila, Philippines. It is also called the Walled City, and at the time of the Spanish Colonial Period was synonymous to the city of Manila itself. It was the seat of government when the Philippines was a component realm of the Spanish Empire.
The .26 sq mile walled city was originally located along the shores of the Manila Bay, south of the entrance to Pasig River. The city was in constant danger of attacks from foreign invaders. In 1574, a fleet of Chinese pirates led by Limahong attacked the city and destroyed it before the Spaniards drove them away. The colony had to be rebuilt by the survivors. These attacks prompted the construction of the wall. Guarding the old city is Fort Santiago, its citadel located at the mouth of the river. King Philip II of Spain decreed the city should be enclosed with stone. Chinese and Filipino workers built the walls. Fort Santiago was rebuilt and a circular fort, known as Nuestra Senora de Guia, was erected to defend the land and sea on the southwestern side of the city. Funds came from a monopoly on playing cards and fines imposed on its excessive play and chinese goods were taxed for two years. Construction of the walls began on 1590 and continued under many governor-generals until 1872.
Intramuros was heavily damaged during the battle to recapture the city from the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War. Reconstruction of the walls was started in 1951 when Intramuros was declared a National Historical Monument, which is continued to this day by the Intramuros Administration. The Global Heritage Fund identified Intramuros as one of the 12 worldwide sites “on the verge” of irreparable loss and destruction.
Jerusalem’s Old City walls – part of UNESCO site 148
The current walls of the Old City were built in 1535-42 by the Ottoman Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The walls stretch for approximately 2.8 miles and rise to a height of between 16.4–49 ft with a thickness of 10 feet at the base.
Walls of Kumbhalgarh in Rajasthan, India
Kremlin Wall in Moscow, Russia
London Wall in England, United Kingdom
Roman Walls of Lugo, Spain – part of UNESCO site 987
Wall of Amurru / Amorite Wall – 2034 B.C
The world’s earliest known defensive wall was built in the cradle of civilization by the ancient Sumerians somewhere between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now Iraq.
Arabic Walls of Niebla, Spain
Long Walls of Greece – 461 BC.
One of the seven famous border walls, the Long Walls are a series of barriers that created a siege-proof triangle area that allowed the city of Athens to easily resupply itself from the sea, which was itself guarded by the mighty Athenian navy. The fortifications made Athens all but impregnable during the Peloponnesian War with Sparta and its allies, but the city was later forced to surrender after its navy was defeated. The victorious Spartans are then said to have dismantled the hated Long Walls to the sound of celebratory music from flute girls. The barriers were later rebuilt and stood until 86 B.C., when they were destroyed by the Roman general Sulla.
Paczków defensive wall, Poland
Sacsayhuamán, a fortress above Cuzco, Peru
Serpent’s Wall, the ancient walls in Ukraine
Servian Wall, in Rome
Sungbo’s Eredo,built during 800–1000 AD in Ijebu Ode in Ogun State southwest Nigeria
Great Wall of Tlaxcala, mentioned in the history of Bernal Díaz del Castillo
Trajan’s Wall, in Dobruja, Romania
Trajan’s Wall (Valul lui Traian ) is the name used for several linear earthen fortifications (valla) found across Eastern Europe, in Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine. Contrary to the name and popular belief, the ramparts were not built by Romans during Trajan’s reign, but during other imperial periods. Furthermore, the association with the Roman Emperor may be a recent scholarly invention. Medieval Moldavian documents referred to the earthworks as Troian, likely in reference to a mythological hero in the Romanian and Slavic folklore. The other major earthen fortification in Romania, Brazda lui Novac (Novac’s Furrow), is also named after a mythological hero.
Veracruz, Mexico Wall – Invading forces and vicious pirates caused the old city to surround itself with a high, fortified wall. Late in the 19th century the wall was dismantled with one small part left standing, which can still be seen. There are models of the wall in the Naval Museum and pictures in the City Museum of Veracruz that show the city before the wall that encircled the city was brought down. The bit of wall that is the Baluarte Santiago today stands alone in the middle of an otherwise empty block of the city. It is a tourist attraction with a small museum inside. If you visit the city of Campeche near the Yucatan peninsula you get a better idea of what these old walls were like.
Visby Ringwall, Gotland, Sweden – part of UNESCO site 731
Western Wall in Jerusalem (also called the Wailing Wall, Kotel HaMa’aravi, and Al-Buraq Wall)
Atlantic Wall in France
Berlin Wall, “The Wall of Shame,” Germany – 1961–1989
Modern history’s most infamous wall was erected in 1961, when the Soviet-aligned East German government built a series of concrete partitions separating East and West Berlin. Communist leaders claimed the barriers were designed to keep out fascists and other enemies they actually kept East Germans in. More than 100 people were killed while trying to escape through the maze of 12-foot walls, guard towers and electrified fences. Thousands more succeeded by scaling the wall, tunneling underneath it and even flying over it in ultra-light aircraft and homemade hot air balloons.
Communards’ Wall in the Père Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris, France
Inland Customs Line 2,500 miles (4,000 km) built 1843 onward in British India
The Inland Customs Line which incorporated the Great Hedge of India (or Indian Salt Hedge) was a customs barrier built by the British across India primarily to collect the salt tax. The customs line was begun while India was under the control of the East India Company but continued into the period of direct British rule. The line had its beginnings in a series of customs houses that were established in Bengal in 1803 to prevent the smuggling of salt to avoid the tax. These customs houses were eventually formed into a continuous barrier that was brought under the control of the Inland Customs Department in 1843.
The line was gradually expanded as more territory was brought under British control until it covered a distance of more than 2,500 miles. The line was initially made of dead, thorny material such as the Indian Plum but eventually evolved into a living hedge that grew up to 12 feet, and was compared to the Great Wall of China. The Inland Customs Department employed customs officers to patrol the line and apprehend smugglers, reaching a peak of more than 14,000 staff in 1872. The line and hedge were considered to be an infringement on the freedom of Indians and in opposition to free trade policies so were eventually abandoned in 1879 when the tax was applied at point of manufacture.
Lima City Walls in Lima, Peru
Lennon Wall in Prague
The Seawall in Portland, Oregon
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, often called the Wall
Via Anelli Wall in Padua, Italy
Indian Line of Control fencing with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir
Moroccan Wall of Western Sahara – 1980
Belfast Peace Lines in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Korean Wall Korean Demilitarized Zone
Leonine Wall, Vatican City, Rome, Italy – (World Heritage Site) – c. 847 A.D.
A few years after Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor, walls were repaired or built around the Vatican to protect the pope from Barbarians, pirates, and other marauders, such as Saracens, an early term for the Arab Muslims who were trying to conquer Christian Europe. They attacked the outskirts of Rome in 846, a year before the start of Pope Leo IV’s reign, and raided the Basilicas of St. Peter and St, where they robbed the relics and desecrated the tombs of two Christian saints. The walls completed in 852 were nearly 40 feet high, twelve feet thick, and defended by dozens of towers that turned the site into a fortified city, according to Sean Hannity. Other stretches of the wall were built during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The question of whether or not those later walls were built as fortifications or if they were just “a political and cultural statement about the cultural and political power of the pope” arose after Pope Francis implied that people who build walls instead of bridges, (like Donald Trump) were unchristian, even if they did it to keep Americans safe from Jihadists that might be mixed with refugees flowing over the southern border. Trump and his conservative supporters fired back with assertions that the pope is a hypocrite because the Vatican is a walled city that is not taking in refugees. The impression that the Vatican is a walled city may have come from photos that show the walls, and the descriptions like that on history.com, that say the 110-acre city, “is surrounded by 2 sq. miles of medieval and renaissance walls,” or the Wikipedia definition that describes the Vatican as a landlocked sovereign city-state that consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy.
The New York Times and CNN came to the defense of Pope Francis, saying the Vatican does have some large walls but anyone can enter some parts of Vatican City, including St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s Square, and the Vatican Museum after passing through metal detectors. Exceptions include areas of the Vatican that are involved in the day-to-day governance of the church or areas that house officials such as the pope. “That’s the same as any government structure in the world,” said Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, a Catholic studies professor at Georgetown. “You can’t just walk into the White House.” Walls like those found in some parts of the Vatican were a fixture in almost every significant city of the medieval period, including London, Paris and Jerusalem, she said.
Furthermore, the pope had announced in September 2015, his intention to invite at least two refugee families to Vatican City. In April 2016, the Vatican Correspondent announced that he took 12 Syrians from three families – all of them Muslims – to “two parish churches contained within the walls of the Vatican city-state.” That number increased to 20 by Sept. 26, 2016, according to the Borgen Project, which also noted that the refugees were not taken in on a whim, but there was a great deal of paperwork done first, which suggests they were carefully vetted. Apparently, caution along this line is justified since ISIS’ magazine Dabiq published a photo with the jihadist group’s black flag flying above St. Peter’s Square, and an article called, “The Failed Crusade,” which called for a war against the Catholic Church. ISIS also released a video in February of 2015 that depicted the murder of 21 Egyptian Christians that ended with the warning: “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission,” along with a threat to toss homosexuals from the “Leaning tower of Pizza,” which misspelling caused some levity among the Italians.
But Italian police took the threat seriously and deployed 500 more officers around sensitive sites with plans to add up to 4,800 more. Italy’s cabinet also proposed new penalties that increased prison sentences of up to six years for anyone convicted of recruiting jihadists and the ability to revoke passports of suspected militants. Security sources in the Italian Secret Service told Newsweek that Rome was worried ISIS has infiltrated the country. They suspect dozens of jihadists who fought in Iraq and Syria have returned to Italy, and that terrorists could be hiding among thousands of people arriving from war-torn Libya. A spokesman for the Vatican said they were not particularly worried about ISIS’ threats because it was the job of the Italian police to protect them. And after all, they have a wall and metal detectors.
Nicosia Wall, along the Green Line on the island of Cyprus dividing North and South.
Mexico Northern Border. “The Mexico–United States barrier is a series of walls and fences along the Mexico–United States border aimed at preventing illegal crossings from Mexico into the United States. The barrier is not one continuous structure, but a grouping of relatively short physical walls, secured in between with a “virtual fence” which includes a system of sensors and cameras monitored by the United States Border Patrol. As of January 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that it had more than 580 miles of barriers in place, according to Wikipedia.
The Secure Fence Act of 2006, signed by U.S. President George W. Bush to “help protect the American people,” directed the Department of Homeland Security to achieve “operational control” on the border. To that end, it authorized the construction of fencing and security improvements, including other barriers, cameras and sensors on the border from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Congress approved $1.2 billion in a separate homeland security spending bill to bankroll the fence, though critics say this is $4.8 billion less than what’s likely needed to get it built.
Since 2006, about 72 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers have gone up in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, which includes New Mexico. That includes about six miles of 18-foot steel columns at Columbus and Palomas, nine miles of tall fencing between Santa Teresa, and an18-foot-tall steel fence that will replace the cyclone fence near the tourist attraction of Mount Cristo Rey at Sunland Park. But much of the sparsely populated New Mexico desert remains unwalled. See what cement companies on both sides of the border might benefit from the building of Trump’s Great Wall, according to Global Construction Review.
The Republican Convention in Cleveland officially adopted Pres. Trump’s hardline approach to immigration and a wall along the southern border via a voice vote, stipulating a border wall that “must cover the entirety of the southern border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic”. (See “Republican Platform 2016”.)
See also http://tinyurl.com/hf6b4vj
Walls, Fences & Barriers on Mexico’s Southern Border with Guatemala at Veracruz.
Since President Elect Trump’s advocacy of building a wall, several images circulated on the Internet that showed a large wall purportedly along Mexico’s southern border. These images were actually cyber myth that showed walls in other parts of the world. So, are there any walls between Mexico and Guatemala? In 2014, Ferrosur, one of Mexico’s two largest companies (Grupo Ferrovial Mexicano (Ferromex — aka Grupo) and Ferrocarril del Sureste (Ferrosur), constructed a concrete wall topped with barbed wire that extends 0.6 miles along the train tracks in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz. The wall impedes migrant’s access to Mexico’s long distance train called, “The Beast,” and the Decanal Guadalupano migrant shelter where refugees have sought shelter since 2003. In 2013, the train company built a similar wall to impede migrants’ access to the train in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. In 2012, Ferrosur lined both sides of the tracks in Apizaco, Tlaxcala with concrete posts, which has made it nearly impossible to board and disembark the train. See enlightening NYTimes article from 2006 about Mexico’s southern border. See also a 2015 study about that border by the Washington Office on Latin America.
Frontier Closed Area along Hong Kong-China border
Here is another article with pictures and history of walls
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