The mightiest walls were built in the past, because of technical developments in construction technology (the barriers in Israel and the “Peace Lines” in Belfast, for example, consist of high metal fences and barbed wire) and also in weapon technology (heavy artillery, no matter how massive break through stone wall) walls became obsolete in many areas.
Nevertheless, in the ranking of the world’s greatest walls, some modern walls compete with the remains of the walls of our ancestors for the top spots:
9. The largest prison wall in Germany
Prisons are places where large and massive walls and watchtowers are still being built nowadays.
The largest wall of a German prison is in JVA Geldern. It is over 1000 meters long and 6 meters high.
The inscription “Longing” is intended to remind outsiders that it is not easy to live locked up behind a wall and bars for years.
8. The largest dam in Europe and the highest wall in Europe
The Grand Dixence Dam
The little river Dixence in Switzerland is dammed up with the highest wall in Europe (285 metres). With a length of 695 meters, the dam wall is a bit shorter than the prison wall of the JVA Geldern, but thanks to its enormous height, the dam from Grande Dixence landed in 9th place.
Only a few walls in the world are higher at all, and these are also dams: the highest currently is the wall of the Jinping I storage power plant in China, the height of which is given as 300 to 305 meters. A dam wall is currently under construction in Rogun (Tajikistan), which is expected to be 335 meters high when it is completed.
7. The greatest wall before the Roman Empire
Ugly re-construction of the walls of Babylon
The first great walls that people built were city walls. The Stone Age metropolis of Ur (3500 BC) was already protected by a 9 km long city wall with towers.
The largest wall in early antiquity before the Roman Empire was the city wall of Babylon, which for a while was even one of the 7 wonders of the world. They were completed by King Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 BC. Chr.
According to the historians, the walls of Babylon were up to 30 meters thick and also about 30 meters high. The length of the wall was about 18 kilometers. For the armies of that time, such walls were impassable. The city walls of Babylon were made of baked mud brick on the outside and filled with rubble and earth on the inside .
The ramparts of the city wall were so wide that battle wagons could drive and turn there in order to reach the attackers quickly, should some of them manage to scale the huge wall.
6. The largest city walls of the Middle Ages
The ruins of the Theodosian Wall
The Wall of Constantinople was built in late antiquity but protected the city of Constantinople throughout the Middle Ages. Only in 1453 did the Ottomans manage to overcome the wall with heavy losses and take the city, which was already almost depopulated at the time. Since the city walls withstood around 1000 years and were repeatedly repaired and manned during this time, they can be described as the most successful defense system in history.
The Theodosian Wall was not a simple wall, for on the land side it was 70 meters wide. First, the attackers had to overcome the ditch paved with bricks, which was 20 meters wide, 7 meters deep and filled with water. The 2 meter high moat wall made it even more difficult for the enemy to get out of the moat towards the city. The wall of the moat was deliberately built low so that the soldiers on the next ring of walls could shoot at the attackers. If the invaders got over the ditch and the ditch wall, they stood in front of the outer wall. This was 8 meters high and about 3 meters wide. Soldiers stood on its ramparts, protected by battlements, as well as in the 82 towers. After that came a 20 meter wide “terrace”,Finally, the main wall was the innermost and mightiest wall. It was 12 meters high and 5 meters wide and had 96 towers that were 24 meters high. These were offset to the towers of the outer wall.
The Theodosian Wall ran around the entire “metropolitan area” of Constantinople and was around 20 kilometers long. 7 kilometers of it made up the land wall described above. The sea wall was 15 meters high and 188 towers rose from it at regular intervals.
5. The largest walls of a fortification
The wall of the Indian fortress of Kumbhalgarh is 36 kilometers long, 12 meters high and 8 meters thick. This was built in the 15th century by Kumbha, the Rana of Mewar to repel invading Islamic armies.
A special feature of the wall are the “curves”, which additionally strengthen the wall and give it a modern look. A total of 7 heavily guarded gates lead into the fortress. Kumbhalgarh Fortress itself is one of the largest in the world: it contains 360 temples alone, some of which are architecturally very impressive.
4. The largest “city wall” in Germany
The Berlin Wall on a cloudy winter day
The Berlin Wall not only stood on the border between East and West Berlin, but the GDR actually “walled” all of West Berlin completely.
A total of 107 kilometers of the “anti-fascist protective wall” around Berlin was built as a real wall in the form of a concrete slab wall (the rest as a metal mesh fence). The height of the wall was around 3.60 meters. The border guards overlooked the Wall from a total of 296 watchtowers.
The fall of the Berlin wall
An old wisdom can be discovered at the fall of the wall: A wall without guards is worth nothing. When the border guards released the gates of the Wall to West Berlin in the late evening of November 9, 1989, several thousand people climbed the Wall and danced on it.
Even if “wall woodpeckers” immediately start to hew pieces out of the wall with hammer and chisel, the majority of the wall is removed with heavy equipment, and that from November 11, 1989.
However, some sections of the former largest “city wall” in Germany have been preserved as a monument. Historically, the Berlin Wall is only the second largest wall in Germany, because a much greater power than the GDR had already built a huge wall on German soil around 2000 years ago, which clearly trumps the Berlin Wall.
3. The largest German wall of all time
The larger part of the Limes consisted of natural obstacles such as the Rhine or a palisade (the wire mesh fence of antiquity) and or a wall with a ditch in front. But a section of the Limes from today’s Schwäbisch-Gemünd to Kastell Einig (near today’s village of Einig on the Danube) was built as a wall by the Roman Empire at the latest in the early 3rd century.
With a length of almost 200 kilometers, this was the longest wall ever built on (today’s) German soil and probably even the second longest wall ever in the world. The wall was 3 to 4 meters high and a good meter wide. Watchtowers were erected at regular intervals, which had visual contact with each other and were manned by up to 8 soldiers.
Most of the attacks by the Germanic associations could be repelled by the auxiliaries (auxiliary troops). These were stationed in smaller forts near the Wall, of which there were around 120 on the Upper Rhine-Rhaetian Limes.
Only in the case of very heavy attacks did the legions come into action. They were stationed in large fortifications further inland. The legions always attacked from at least 2 sides in order to pinch the enemy. The Roman legions were the elite unit of antiquity and invincible for the “barbarians” – with very few exceptions.
2. The second largest walls in the world
What today looks like a “goat wall” stretching mile after mile through the countryside of northern England is actually the remains of the mightiest wall of the time: Hadrian’s Wall
This was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the early 2nd century and marked the northern border of the Roman Empire. Beyond that dwelt the savage tribes of the north, who kept charging at the wall with their allies, the giants. But it lasted almost 300 years. Because 80 mile forts, 16 auxiliary forts and 320 towers, packed with Roman soldiers and “barbaric” auxiliary troops, secured Hadrian’s Wall.
This huge border wall stretched from what is now Bowness-on-Salway on the Irish Sea to the town of Wallsend on the North Sea. That’s a total of almost 120 kilometers. Purely in terms of length, Hadrian’s Wall is smaller than the Raetian Limes in Germany, but since it was 5 to 6 meters high and around 3 meters wide, it was almost twice as high and wide, making it the 2nd largest wall.
The Fall of Hadrian’s Wall
By the early 4th century, the people of Britain were crying out for help as the threat from the northern tribes steadily increased. In the year 399, Rome once again sent its valuable legions under the leadership of the army master Stilicho to its northernmost province, once again they decisively repelled the wild tribes of the north, once again they repaired the wall and instructed the local auxiliary troops in their guarding. But then the legions left the island and never came back, because Rome itself was fighting for survival.
1. The tallest wall in the world
The Great Wall of China from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644): it has a total length of 8,850 kilometers, with larger stretches also consisting of natural obstacles such as rivers or mountains. The real wall reaches a length of 6.259 km, although strictly speaking it is not a continuous wall, as it is constantly interrupted by the natural obstacles.
Despite this blemish, the Great Wall has made it to the top of the world’s tallest walls, as even the individual sections are significantly longer than the other walls on the list.
Overall, the Chinese government now gives the length of the Great Wall of China as 21.196 kilometers: This is because there is not just one Great Wall of China, but each dynasty built its own wall. For example, the image below is a remnant of the Great Wall of China from the Qi Dynasty. The construction of this much older wall started as early as 411 BC. It had a total length of 600 kilometers.
Out of competition: the greatest walls of fantasy
Powerful, seemingly insurmountable walls that save a country or a city from murderous invaders are also a popular subject in fantasy.
Therefore, there are 2 walls that do not actually exist, but have nevertheless become very well known.
Trump Wall oder THE Wall
A number of border fortifications with a total length of almost 1000 kilometers already exist on the border between Mexico and the USA, but they are not connected. In cities, this border fortification usually consists of a fence-like structure several meters high, while in rural areas it sometimes only consists of a low wire enclosure.
Trump’s plan was to replace the existing border fences with a gigantic black-painted concrete wall 1,600 kilometers long. According to Trump’s statements, the wall should be 10 to 15 meters high.
According to expert calculations, such a wall would cost around $45 billion, plus the purchase of land. Annual maintenance costs would be around $750 million.
Since, contrary to Trump’s original plan, the Mexicans did not want to pay for the wall and he was also unable to get the necessary funds from the US budget, the construction of Trump’s wall was scrapped.
The Ice Wall from “Games of Thrones”
A wall made entirely of ice
The Ice Wall forms the northernmost border of the 7 Kingdoms and protects the land from the wildlings (and other much more unpleasant creatures) that dwell there to the north.
It has a length of 481 kilometers and a height of over 200 meters. The ice wall is many meters thick, significantly thicker at the base than the battlements above. It consists of pure ice – that makes it difficult even for the agile wildlings to scale the wall.
19 castles built directly on the wall once secured the wall. But in modern times only 3 of the castles are occupied by the men of the Night’s Watch.
At each of the castles there was also a passage in the wall to the other side. These passages are like tunnels because the wall is so wide. The passages are also blocked by several massive gates. When the Night’s Watch has abandoned a castle, they have previously sealed the associated passageway with ice and rubble for good.