5 Famous Border Walls

5 Famous Border Walls

It's said that - "good fences make good neighbours". Since ancient times mankind has been very particular about demarcating borders clearly. Walls have been one of the most significant means of notifying borders. Here are 5 most notable border walls

1/5 Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China, an iconic symbol of ancient engineering and human perseverance, is one of the most remarkable architectural feats in history. Stretching over 13,000 miles (21,196 kilometers) across northern China, it is considered the world's longest wall and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Construction of the Great Wall began during the 7th century BC and continued for centuries, with different dynasties contributing to its expansion and fortification. The wall's primary purpose was defensive, meant to protect China's northern borders from invasions and raids by various nomadic tribes and military incursions.

The Great Wall is not a single continuous structure but a series of walls and fortifications built using various materials, including earth, wood, bricks, and stone. Its width varies from 15 to 30 feet (4.5 to 9 meters), while its height reaches up to 30 feet (9 meters) in some sections. Along the wall's length, watchtowers were strategically placed to allow for signaling and observation.

Over the centuries, the Great Wall served as more than just a military barrier; it facilitated trade and cultural exchanges, enhanced border controls, and played a significant role in China's history. It also symbolized the unification of different Chinese states into a cohesive nation.

The wall's construction demanded immense human labor, and it is estimated that millions of workers, including soldiers, peasants, and convicts, were involved in its creation. The effort was often harsh, and the conditions were grueling, resulting in a Chinese proverb: "He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man."

2/5 Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall was a tangible and symbolic barrier that divided the city of Berlin, Germany, from 1961 to 1989. This concrete barrier was erected by the German Democratic Republic (GDR), also known as East Germany, with the aim of preventing mass defections to West Berlin and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).

The wall was approximately 155 kilometers (96 miles) long and stood at an average height of 3.6 meters (12 feet). It comprised various components, including concrete walls, watchtowers, barbed wire, anti-vehicle trenches, and guard dog runs. Over time, it evolved and became increasingly fortified, making it a formidable obstacle for anyone attempting to cross from East to West.

The wall's construction led to immense suffering for Berliners, as families and friends were separated overnight. People who found themselves on the wrong side of the wall faced restricted freedom, economic struggles, and the ever-present fear of being caught while attempting to escape. Over the years, several escape attempts were made, some successful, but many tragically ending in death or imprisonment.

The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, marked a historic turning point. It came about due to a series of events and political changes within the GDR and the Soviet Union, as well as the persistent protests of East German citizens demanding freedom and democratic reforms.

The collapse of the Berlin Wall symbolized the end of the Cold War and the reunification of East and West Germany. East and West Berliners celebrated together as people from both sides climbed the wall and embraced each other. The reunification process formally occurred on October 3, 1990, when Germany was officially unified as a single nation.

Today, remnants of the Berlin Wall serve as poignant reminders of the city's turbulent history. Many sections of the wall have been preserved as memorials and tourist attractions, while others have been redeveloped into vibrant art installations adorned with colorful murals and graffiti. The Berlin Wall's legacy continues to resonate as a symbol of division, resilience, and the triumph of human spirit over oppression.

3/5 Great Wall of Gorgan

Great Wall of Gorgan

The Great Wall of Gorgan, also known as the "Red Snake" or "Alexander's Barrier," is an ancient defensive wall located in northern Iran. This remarkable structure stretches for approximately 195 kilometers (121 miles) and is considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in the region.

Construction of the Great Wall of Gorgan began during the reign of the Sasanian Empire in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. Its primary purpose was to defend the empire's northern borders from invasions by the Huns and other nomadic tribes from Central Asia.

The wall is made predominantly of mud bricks, with some sections containing layers of straw and reeds to enhance its strength. It varies in height from 6 to 10 meters (20 to 33 feet) and has an average thickness of around 3 meters (10 feet). Several watchtowers and fortresses were strategically positioned along its length to enable surveillance and quick response to potential threats.

Despite its historical significance, the Great Wall of Gorgan remained largely unknown to the outside world until the 20th century. Archaeological excavations and research efforts have shed light on its importance as a defensive barrier and a testament to the advanced engineering skills of the Sasanian civilization. The Great Wall of Gorgan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4/5 Belfast Peace Walls

Belfast Peace Walls

The Belfast Peace Walls, also known as Peace Lines, are a series of physical barriers that separate Catholic and Protestant communities in Belfast, Northern Ireland. These walls were erected during the period of intense sectarian violence known as "The Troubles," which lasted from the late 1960s to the late 1990s.

The Troubles were a bitter and bloody conflict between two main communities in Northern Ireland: the predominantly Protestant Unionists, who wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom, and the predominantly Catholic Nationalists, who sought a united Ireland. The deep-seated political and religious differences led to widespread violence, bombings, and assassinations.

To prevent clashes and protect communities, temporary barricades were set up in the late 1960s. As the violence escalated, these temporary structures evolved into more permanent and fortified Peace Walls. The first Peace Wall was built in 1969, and their construction continued over the years, peaking in the 1980s.

The Peace Walls range in height and length, with some reaching up to 7.6 meters (25 feet) tall and spanning several kilometers. They are often made of brick, concrete, or steel, and many feature metal gates that are closed at night or during times of heightened tension. The walls also serve as canvases for political murals and graffiti, reflecting the ongoing emotions and divisions within the communities.

Despite the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1998, which brought an end to most of the violence and established a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, the Peace Walls have remained in place. The communities on both sides have expressed concerns that removing the walls could reignite tensions and lead to renewed violence.

Efforts have been made to promote reconciliation and foster dialogue between the communities living on either side of the Peace Walls. Several organizations and initiatives work toward breaking down the barriers, encouraging social integration, and building trust between former adversaries. The Belfast Peace Walls stand as stark reminders of the troubled past in Northern Ireland. In 2013, the Northern Ireland Executive committed to remove all peace lines by mutual consent by 2023.

5/5 Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian's Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a remarkable ancient Roman defensive fortification located in northern England. Named after the Roman emperor Hadrian, who ordered its construction, the wall was built during his reign in AD 122 and served as the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire in Britain.

Stretching approximately 117 kilometers (73 miles) across the narrowest part of the island from the North Sea to the Irish Sea, Hadrian's Wall was a colossal engineering feat for its time. It was intended to mark the Roman Empire's limit and control the movement of people and goods, as well as provide defense against incursions from the northern tribes.

The wall was constructed using locally quarried stone and measured around 4.5 meters (15 feet) in height and 3 meters (10 feet) in width. It was fortified with defensive structures such as milecastles, small forts placed at regular intervals, and larger forts known as "milefortlets" at critical points. Turrets and watchtowers were interspersed along the wall to enhance surveillance and communication.

In addition to its military function, Hadrian's Wall served as a customs barrier and allowed the Romans to control the flow of trade and taxation. It also facilitated the movement of Roman troops and provided a means of rapid communication between forts.

Although the wall was initially a military frontier, it eventually developed into a significant cultural boundary between the Roman south and the tribal north. This dichotomy is evident in the artifacts and structures discovered during archaeological excavations.

Hadrian's Wall remained an active military and defensive structure for several centuries, but its importance waned as the Roman Empire faced internal and external pressures. By the 5th century, Roman control in Britain had collapsed, and the wall lost its military significance.

The wall stands as a tangible reminder of the past, highlighting the achievements of ancient civilizations and the complex interactions between different cultures. It serves as a symbol of both division and connection, representing the border between the Roman Empire and the unconquered lands beyond. 

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