One could say that it has almost become the fashion to build walls, either to keep people in – or out… Since the beginning of time, walls have been built to keep out ‘undesirables’. In many parts of the world countries are in the throes of war or famine. Refugees are having a particularly difficult time with hostility barring their attempts to reach safety. Walls are still going up at the time of writing. However, following are some very well-known examples from the past.
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The Great wall of China
The oldest and most famous wall is the hGreat Wall of China, begun a few hundred years BC, during the Warring States period. It stretches over 21,000 kilometers, and its main aim was to keep prevent incursions by nomads. According to reports, around 400,000 workers – mostly soldiers and convicts – died during its construction. Many were buried within the Wall itself. It took thousands of years to complete and is now one of the world’s most famous landmarks, even visible from Outer Space.
This wall, begun by the Emperor Hadrian in the year 122 AD, is the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain. It represented the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire for nearly three hundred years. With a stone base and wall, and lookout towers every two miles, it stretched for nearly 120 kilometres. Its purpose was to discourage raids by the northern tribes. It was manned by garrisons and many fascinating archaeological finds have been discovered. These offer an insight into daily life of the time, from shoes to letters inscribed on tablets. It was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1987 and is visited by thousands of people every year.
The wall of Berlin
This wall was a concrete barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic after World War II and the division of Germany into areas of differing political opinions. It had guard towers along the wall and was intended to prevent citizens from the Eastern Bloc defecting to the West. It was sometimes referred to as the “Wall of Shame”. Over five thousand people succeeded in escaping. Many of them were shot or arrested in their attempts to reach theWestern sector. In 1989 due to political changes the East German government relaxed its rules and the Wall was gradually demolished. There was worldwide rejoicing at the news.