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A defensive wall is a
fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from Latin ''fortis'' ("strong") and ''facere'' ( ...

fortification
usually used to protect a city, town or other settlement from potential aggressors. The walls can range from simple palisades or earthworks to extensive military fortifications with towers, bastions and gates for access to the city. From ancient to modern times, they were used to enclose settlements. Generally, these are referred to as city walls or town walls, although there were also
wall A wall is a structure and a surface that defines an area; carries a load; provides , , or ; or, is decorative. There are many kinds of walls, including: * Walls in buildings that form a fundamental part of the or separate interior s, sometime ...

wall
s, such as the
Great Wall of China The Great Wall of China () is a series of fortifications that were built across the historical northern borders of ancient Chinese states and Imperial China as protection against Eurasian nomads, various nomadic groups from the Eurasian Step ...

Great Wall of China
,
Walls of Benin Walls may refer to: *The plural of wall A wall is a structure and a surface that defines an area; carries a load; provides security, Shelter in place, shelter, or soundproofing; or, is decorative. There are many kinds of walls, including: * ...
,
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae' ...

Hadrian's Wall
,
Anastasian Wall The Anastasian Wall ( Greek: , tr, Anastasius Suru) or the Long Walls of Thrace (Greek: Μακρὰ Τείχη τῆς Θράκης, Turkish: ''Uzun Duvar'') is an ancient stone and turf fortification A fortification is a military construct ...
, and the
Atlantic Wall The Atlantic Wall (german: link=no, Atlantikwall) was an extensive system of coastal defence and fortification, coastal defences and fortifications built by Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944, along the coast of continental Europe and Scandinav ...

Atlantic Wall
, which extended far beyond the borders of a
city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defined as a ...

city
and were used to enclose regions or mark territorial boundaries. In mountainous terrain, defensive walls such as ''
letzi A ''Letzi'' (plural: ''Letzinen'', also known in German language, German as a ''Talsperre'' in the sense of a fortification, not a dam) or ''Letzimauer'' refers to defensive barriers whose purpose is to protect the entrance into a valley. The term ...
s'' were used in combination with castles to seal valleys from potential attack. Beyond their defensive utility, many walls also had important symbolic functions representing the status and independence of the communities they embraced. Existing ancient walls are almost always
masonry Masonry is the building of structures from individual units, which are often laid in and bound together by ; the term ''masonry'' can also refer to the units themselves. The common materials of masonry construction are , building such as , , an ...

masonry
structures, although brick and timber-built variants are also known. Depending on the
topography Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surface Relief map of Sierra Nevada, Spain Terrain or relief (also topographical Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an ...
of the area surrounding the city or the settlement the wall is intended to protect, elements of the terrain such as rivers or coastlines may be incorporated in order to make the wall more effective. Walls may only be crossed by entering the appropriate
city gate A city gate is a gate Candi bentar, a typical Indonesian gate that is often found on the islands of Java">Indonesia.html" ;"title="Candi bentar, a typical Indonesia">Candi bentar, a typical Indonesian gate that is often found on the islan ...

city gate
and are often supplemented with
tower A tower is a tall structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rul ...

tower
s. The practice of building these massive walls, though having its origins in prehistory, was refined during the rise of
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance la ...
s, and energetic wall-building continued into the medieval period and beyond in certain parts of Europe. Simpler defensive walls of earth or stone, thrown up around
hillfort A hillfort is a type of earthwork used as a fortified A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically ...
s,
ringwork A ringwork is a form of fortified defense (military), defensive structure, usually Circle, circular or oval in shape. Ringworks are essentially motte-and-bailey castles minus the motte. Defences were usually Earthworks (archaeology), earthworks in ...
s, early
castle A castle is a type of fortification, fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by Military order (monastic society), military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word ''castle'', but u ...

castle
s and the like, tend to be referred to as ramparts or banks.


History


Mesopotamia

From very early history to modern times, walls have been a near necessity for every city.
Uruk Uruk, also known as Warka, was an ancient city of (and later of ) situated east of the present bed of the River on the dried-up ancient channel of the Euphrates east of modern , , .Harmansah, 2007 Uruk is the for the . Uruk played a leading ...
in ancient
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian language, Akkadian '; Sumerian language, Sumerian ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", iĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian)from ''The ...

Sumer
(
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
) is one of the world's oldest known walled cities. Before that, the
proto-city A proto-city, or a proto-town, is a large village or town of the Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the worl ...
of
Jericho Jericho ( ; ar, أريحا ' ; he, יְרִיחוֹ ') is a city in the . It is located in the , with the to the east and to the west. It is the administrative seat of the and is governed by the . In 2007, it had a population of 18,346. ...

Jericho
in the
West Bank The West Bank ( ar, الضفة الغربية '; he, הגדה המערבית ' or ') is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, bordered by Jordan and the Dead Sea to the east and by Israel to the south, west a ...
had a wall surrounding it as early as the 8th millenniumBC. The earliest known town wall in Europe is of
Solnitsata
Solnitsata
, built in the 6th or 5th millennium BC. The
Assyrians Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disambiguation) * SS Assyrian, SS ''Assyrian'', seve ...
deployed large labour forces to build new palaces, temples and defensive walls.
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
was one of the most famous cities of the ancient world, especially as a result of the building program of
Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylonian cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until ...

Nebuchadnezzar
, who expanded the walls and built the
Ishtar Gate The Ishtar Gate ( ar, بوابة عشتار) was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Bāḇel'' * syc, ܒܒܠ ''Bāḇel'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, ב ...

Ishtar Gate
. The Persians built
defensive walls A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from La ...
to protect their territories, notably the
Derbent Wall
Derbent Wall
and the
Great Wall of Gorgan The Great Wall of Gorgan is a Sasanian-era defense system Defense or defence may refer to: Tactical, martial, and political acts or groups * Defense (military), forces primarily intended for warfare * Civil defense, the organizing of civilian ...
built on the either sides of the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea (also known as Mazandaran Sea, Hyrcanian Ocean, or Khazar Sea), tk, Hazar deňzi, az, Xəzər Dənizi, russian: Каспийское море, script=Latn, fa, دریای مازندران، دریای خزر, script=Latn, tly, ...

Caspian Sea
against nomadic nations.


South Asia

Some settlements in the
Indus Valley Civilization The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC), also known as the Indus Civilisation, was a Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is ...

Indus Valley Civilization
were also fortified. By about 3500BC, hundreds of small farming villages dotted the
Indus#REDIRECT Indus River
{{Redirect category shell, {{R from move {{R from miscapitalisation {{R unprintworthy ...

Indus
floodplain. Many of these settlements had fortifications and planned streets. The stone and mud brick houses of
Kot Diji The ancient site at Kot Diji ( sd, ڪوٽ ڏیجي; ur, کوٹ ڈیجی) was the forerunner of the Indus Valley Civilization, Indus Civilization. The occupation of this site is attested already at 3300 BCE. The remains consist of two parts; the ...

Kot Diji
were clustered behind massive stone flood dykes and defensive walls, for neighboring communities quarreled constantly about the control of prime agricultural land.
Mundigak Mundigak ( ps, منډیګک) is an archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance ...
(c. 2500BC) in present-day south-east
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
has defensive walls and square bastions of sun dried bricks.


China

Large
rammed earth Rammed earth is a technique for construction, constructing foundations, floors, and walls using natural raw materials such as soil, earth, chalk, Lime (material), lime, or gravel. It is an ancient method that has been revived recently as a sustainab ...

rammed earth
walls were built in
ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese h ...
since the
Shang Dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From ...

Shang Dynasty
(c. 1600–1050BC), as the capital at ancient Ao had enormous walls built in this fashion (see
siege A siege is a military blockade of a city, or fortress, with the intent of conquering by attrition, or a well-prepared assault. This derives from la, sedere, lit=to sit. Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity conflict characteri ...

siege
for more info). Although stone walls were built in China during the
Warring States The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spri ...
(481–221BC), mass conversion to stone architecture did not begin in earnest until the
Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
(618–907 AD). Sections of the
Great Wall The Great Wall of China () is a series of fortifications A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typic ...
had been built prior to the
Qin Dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of ever ...

Qin Dynasty
(221–207BC) and subsequently connected and fortified during the Qin dynasty, although its present form was mostly an engineering feat and remodeling of the
Ming Dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming Dynasty
(1368–1644AD). The large walls of
Pingyao Pingyao, officially Pingyao Ancient City, is a settlement in central Shanxi, China, famed for its importance in economic history of China, Chinese economic history and for its well-preserved Ming dynasty, Ming and Qing dynasty, Qing Chinese urban ...
serve as one example. Likewise, the walls of the
Forbidden City The Forbidden City () is a palace A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence, or the home of a or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a or . The word is derived from the name palātium, for in Rome which housed ...

Forbidden City
in
Beijing Beijing ( ), as Peking ( ), is the of the . It is the world's , with over 21 million residents within an of 16,410.5 km2 (6336 sq. mi.). It is located in , and is governed as a under the direct administration of the with .Figures ...

Beijing
were established in the early 15th century by the
Yongle Emperor The Yongle Emperor (pronounced , ; 2 May 1360 – 12 August 1424) — personal name Zhu Di (WG: Chu Ti) — was the third List of emperors of the Ming dynasty, Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigning from 1402 to 1424. Zhu Di was the fourth son ...

Yongle Emperor
. According to Tonio Andrade, the immense thickness of Chinese city walls prevented larger cannons from being developed, since even industrial era artillery had trouble breaching Chinese walls.


Europe

In
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
, large
stone wall Stone walls are a kind of masonry Masonry is the building of structures from individual units, which are often laid in and bound together by ; the term ''masonry'' can also refer to the units themselves. The common materials of masonry c ...

stone wall
s had been built in
Mycenaean Greece Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland ...
, such as the ancient site of
Mycenae Mycenae ( ; grc, Μυκῆναι or , ''Mykē̂nai'' or ''Mykḗnē'') is an archaeological site near Mykines, Greece, Mykines in Argolis, north-eastern Peloponnese, Greece. It is located about south-west of Athens; north of Argos, Peloponne ...

Mycenae
(famous for the huge stone blocks of its '
cyclopean Cyclopean masonry is a type of stonework found in Mycenaean architecture, built with massive limestone Limestone is a common type of carbonate rock, carbonate sedimentary rock. It is composed mostly of the minerals calcite and aragonite, wh ...
' walls). In classical era Greece, the city of
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens rect 15 475 48 ...

Athens
built a long set of parallel stone walls called the
Long Walls Although long walls were built at several locations in ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuri ...
that reached their guarded seaport at
Piraeus Piraeus ( ; el, Πειραιάς ; grc, Πειραιεύς ) is a port city The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Trieste.html"_;"title="Barcola_near_Trieste">Barcola_near_Trieste,_a_small_local_port A_port_is_a_ Barcola_near_Tr ...

Piraeus
. Exceptions were few, but neither ancient
Sparta Sparta (Doric Greek Doric or Dorian ( grc, Δωρισμός, Dōrismós) was an . Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern as well as in , , , , , some islands in the southern and some cities on the south east coast of ...

Sparta
nor ancient
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
had walls for a long time, choosing to rely on their militaries for defense instead. Initially, these fortifications were simple constructions of wood and earth, which were later replaced by mixed constructions of stones piled on top of each other without
mortar Mortar may refer to: * Mortar (weapon), an indirect-fire infantry weapon * Mortar (masonry), a material used to fill the gaps between blocks and bind them together * Mortar and pestle, a tool pair used to crush or grind * Mortar, Bihar, a village in ...
. The
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
fortified their cities with massive, mortar-bound stone walls. Among these are the largely extant
Aurelian Walls The Aurelian Walls ( it, Mura aureliane) are a line of city walls built between 271 AD and 275 AD in Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of ...
of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
and the
Theodosian Walls The Walls of Constantinople are a series of defensive stone walls that have surrounded and protected the city of Constantinople la, Constantinopolis , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklag ...
of
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
, together with partial remains elsewhere. These are mostly city gates, like the
Porta Nigra The Porta Nigra (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roma ...

Porta Nigra
in
Trier Trier ( , ; lb, Tréier ), formerly known in English as Trèves ( ;) and Triers (see also names in other languages), is a city on the banks of the Moselle The Moselle ( , ; german: Mosel ; lb, Musel ) is a river A river i ...

Trier
or
Newport Arch Newport Arch is a 3rd-century Roman gate in the city of Lincoln, Lincolnshire. It is a Scheduled monument and Grade I listed building and is reputedly the oldest arch in the United Kingdom still used by traffic. History The arch was remodelled a ...

Newport Arch
in Lincoln. In Central Europe, the
Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: Celtic a collection of Indo-European peoples The Indo-European languages ar ...

Celts
built large fortified settlements which the Romans called
oppida An ''oppidum'' (plural ''oppida'') is a large fortified Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapiens, humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age (Pal ...

oppida
, whose walls seem partially influenced by those built in the Mediterranean. The
fortifications A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, w ...

fortifications
were continuously expanded and improved. Apart from these, the early
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
also saw the creation of some towns built around castles. These cities were only rarely protected by simple stone walls and more usually by a combination of both walls and
ditches A ditch is a small to moderate divot created to channel water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the mai ...
. From the 12th century AD hundreds of settlements of all sizes were founded all across Europe, which very often obtained the right of fortification soon afterwards. The founding of urban centers was an important means of territorial expansion and many cities, especially in central and eastern Europe, were founded for this purpose during the period of
Eastern settlement 350 px, Map of the eastern Norse settlement in medieval Greenland. The area is within the current municipalities of Greenland, municipality of Kujalleq. The known major farms and churches are identified, as well as some probable geographical names. ...
. These cities are easy to recognise due to their regular layout and large market spaces. The fortifications of these settlements were continuously improved to reflect the current level of military development.


Gunpowder era


Chinese city walls

While gunpowder and cannons were invented in China, China never developed wall breaking artillery to the same extent as other parts of the world. Part of the reason is probably because Chinese walls were already highly resistant to artillery and discouraged increasing the size of cannons. In the mid-twentieth century a European expert in fortification commented on their immensity: "in China … the principal towns are surrounded to the present day by walls so substantial, lofty, and formidable that the medieval fortifications of Europe are puny in comparison." Chinese walls were thick. The eastern wall of
Ancient Linzi Linzi (), originally called Yingqiu (), was the capital of the ancient Chinese state of Qi Qi was a state of the Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ) was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also ...
, established in 859 BC, had a maximum thickness of 43 metres and an average thickness of 20-30 metres. Ming prefectural and provincial capital walls were thick at the base and at the top. In Europe the height of wall construction was reached under the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, whose walls often reached in height, the same as many Chinese city walls, but were only thick. Rome's Servian Walls reached in thickness and in height. Other fortifications also reached these specifications across the empire, but all these paled in comparison to contemporary Chinese walls, which could reach a thickness of at the base in extreme cases. Even the walls of Constantinople which have been described as "the most famous and complicated system of defence in the civilized world," could not match up to a major Chinese city wall. Had both the outer and inner walls of Constantinople been combined, they would have only reached roughly a bit more than a third the width of a major wall in China. According to
Philo Philo of Alexandria (; grc, Φίλων, Phílōn; he, , Yedidia (Jedediah) HaCohen; ), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is t ...

Philo
the width of a wall had to be thick to be able to withstand artillery. European walls of the 1200s and 1300s could reach the Roman equivalents but rarely exceeded them in length, width, and height, remaining around thick. It is apt to note that when referring to a very thick wall in medieval Europe, what is usually meant is a wall of in width, which would have been considered thin in a Chinese context. There are some exceptions such as the
Hillfort of Otzenhausen The Celtic hill fort of Otzenhausen is one of the biggest fortifications the Celts ever constructed. It was built by Gauls of the Treveri tribe, who lived in the region north of the fort. The fort is located on top of the ''Dollberg'', a hill near N ...
, a Celtic ringfort with a thickness of in some parts, but Celtic fort-building practices died out in the early medieval period. Andrade goes on to note that the walls of the ''marketplace'' of Chang'an were thicker than the walls of major European capitals. Aside from their immense size, Chinese walls were also structurally different from the ones built in medieval Europe. Whereas European walls were mostly constructed of stone interspersed with gravel or rubble filling and bonded by limestone mortar, Chinese walls had tamped earthen cores which absorbed the energy of artillery shots. Walls were constructed using wooden frameworks which were filled with layers of earth tamped down to a highly compact state, and once that was completed the frameworks were removed for use in the next wall section. Starting from the Song dynasty these walls were improved with an outer layer of bricks or stone to prevent corrosion, and during the Ming, earthworks were interspersed with stone and rubble. Most Chinese walls were also sloped rather than vertical to better deflect projectile energy. The Chinese Wall Theory essentially rests on a cost benefit hypothesis, where the Ming recognized the highly resistant nature of their walls to structural damage, and could not imagine any affordable development of the guns available to them at the time to be capable of breaching said walls. Even as late as the 1490s a Florentine diplomat considered the French claim that "their artillery is capable of creating a breach in a wall of eight feet in thickness" to be ridiculous and the French "braggarts by nature". In fact ''twentieth'' century explosive shells had some difficulty creating a breach in tamped earthen walls.


Bastions and star forts

As a response to gunpowder artillery, European fortifications began displaying architectural principles such as lower and thicker walls in the mid-1400s. Cannon towers were built with artillery rooms where cannons could discharge fire from slits in the walls. However this proved problematic as the slow rate of fire, reverberating concussions, and noxious fumes produced greatly hindered defenders. Gun towers also limited the size and number of cannon placements because the rooms could only be built so big. Notable surviving artillery towers include a seven layer defensive structure built in 1480 at
Fougères Fougères (; br, Felger; Gallo: ''Foujerr'') is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and con ...

Fougères
in
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
, and a four layer tower built in 1479 at Querfurth in Saxony. The star fort, also known as the bastion fort, ''trace italienne'', or renaissance fortress, was a style of fortification that became popular in Europe during the 16th century. The bastion and star fort was developed in Italy, where the Florentine engineer
Giuliano da Sangallo Giuliano da Sangallo (c. 1445 – 1516) was an Italian sculptor, architect and military engineer active during the Italian Renaissance. He is known primarily for being the favored architect of Lorenzo de' Medici, his patron. In this role, Giuliano ...
(1445–1516) compiled a comprehensive defensive plan using the geometric
bastion A bastion or bulwark is a structure projecting outward from the Curtain wall (fortification), curtain wall of a fortification, most commonly angular in shape and positioned at the corners of the fort. The fully developed bastion consists of two f ...

bastion
and full ''trace italienne'' that became widespread in Europe. The main distinguishing features of the star fort were its angle bastions, each placed to support their neighbor with lethal crossfire, covering all angles, making them extremely difficult to engage with and attack. Angle bastions consisted of two faces and two flanks. Artillery positions positioned at the flanks could fire parallel into the opposite bastion's line of fire, thus providing two lines of cover fire against an armed assault on the wall, and preventing mining parties from finding refuge. Meanwhile, artillery positioned on the bastion platform could fire frontally from the two faces, also providing overlapping fire with the opposite bastion. Overlapping mutually supporting defensive fire was the greatest advantage enjoyed by the star fort. As a result, sieges lasted longer and became more difficult affairs. By the 1530s the bastion fort had become the dominant defensive structure in Italy. Outside Europe, the star fort became an "engine of European expansion," and acted as a force multiplier so that small European garrisons could hold out against numerically superior forces. Wherever star forts were erected the natives experienced great difficulty in uprooting European invaders. In China,
Sun Yuanhua Sun Yuanhua (1581 or 1582– 7September 1632), also known as IgnatiusSun, was a Chinese people, Chinese scholar-official, mandarin under the late Ming dynasty, Ming. A Catholicism in China, Catholic Conversion to Christianity, convert, he was a p ...
advocated for the construction of angled bastion forts in his ''Xifashenji'' so that their cannons could better support each other. The officials Han Yun and Han Lin noted that cannons on square forts could not support each side as well as bastion forts. Their efforts to construct bastion forts and their results were inconclusive. Ma Weicheng built two bastion forts in his home county, which helped fend off a
Qing The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last imperial dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n.''" Oxford University Press Oxford Univers ...
incursion in 1638. By 1641, there were ten bastion forts in the county. Before bastion forts could be spread any further, the Ming dynasty fell in 1644, and they were largely forgotten as the Qing dynasty was on the offensive most of the time and had no use for them.


Decline

In the wake of city growth and the ensuing change of defensive strategy, focusing more on the defense of
fort A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, g ...

fort
s around cities, many city walls were demolished. Also, the invention of gunpowder rendered walls less effective, as siege cannons could then be used to blast through walls, allowing armies to simply march through. Today, the presence of former city fortifications can often only be deduced from the presence of ditches,
ring road A ring road (also known as circular road, beltline, beltway, circumferential (high)way, loop, bypass or orbital) is a road or a series of connected roads encircling a town, city, or country. The most common purpose of a ring road is to assist i ...
s or parks. Furthermore, some street names hint at the presence of fortifications in times past, for example when words such as "wall" or "glacis" occur.
Wall Street Wall Street is an eight-block-long street in the Financial District This is a list of financial districts in cities around the world. Background A financial district is usually a central area in a city where financial services firms suc ...

Wall Street
in
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
, itself a
metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of p ...
for the entire United States financial system, is one example. In the 19th century, less emphasis was placed on preserving the fortifications for the sake of their architectural or historical value on the one hand, complete fortifications were restored (
Carcassonne Carcassonne (, also , , ; ; la, Carcaso) is a French fortified city A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized ...

Carcassonne
), on the other hand many structures were demolished in an effort to modernize the cities. One exception to this is the "monument preservation" law by the Bavarian King
Ludwig I of Bavaria Ludwig I or Louis I (german: Ludwig I.; 25 August 1786 – 29 February 1868) was King of Bavaria from 1825 until the German revolutions of 1848–49, 1848 revolutions in the German states. Crown prince Born in the Hôtel des Deux-Ponts, Zweibrück ...

Ludwig I of Bavaria
, which led to the nearly complete preservation of many monuments such as the
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Rothenburg ob der Tauber () is a town in the district of Ansbach File:De Merian Frankoniae 108.jpg, 280px, Ansbach in the 17th century Ansbach (; ) is a city in the Germany, German state of Bavaria. It is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk, admi ...

Rothenburg ob der Tauber
,
Nördlingen Nördlingen () is a Town#Germany, town in the Donau-Ries district, in Swabia (Bavaria), Swabia, Bavaria, Germany, with a population of approximately 19,190. It is located approximately east of Stuttgart, and northwest of Munich. It was built in ...
and
Dinkelsbühl
Dinkelsbühl
. The countless small fortified towns in the
Franconia Franconia (german: Franken, ; Franconian dialect: ''Franggn'' ; bar, Frankn) is a region In geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study ...

Franconia
region were also preserved as a consequence of this edict.


Modern era

Walls and fortified wall structures were still built in the modern era. They did not, however, have the original purpose of being a structure able to resist a prolonged siege or bombardment. Modern examples of defensive walls include: * Berlin's city wall from the 1730s to the 1860s was partially made of wood. Its primary purpose was to enable the city to impose tolls on goods and, secondarily, also served to prevent the desertion of soldiers from the garrison in Berlin. * The
Berlin Wall The Berlin Wall (german: Berliner Mauer, ) was a guarded concrete barrier A barrier or barricade is a physical structure which blocks or impedes something. Barrier may also refer to: Places * Barrier, Kentucky, a community in the Unite ...

Berlin Wall
(1961 to 1989) did not exclusively serve the purpose of protection of an enclosed settlement. One of its purposes was to prevent the crossing of the Berlin border between the
German Democratic Republic German(s) may refer to: * Germany (of or related to) **Germania (historical use) * Germans, citizens of Germany, people of German ancestry, or native speakers of the German language ** For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law **Ger ...
and the
West German ) , capital = Bonn The Federal city of Bonn ( lat, Bonna) is a city on the banks of the Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, with a population of over 300,000. About south-southeast of Cologne, Bonn is in th ...

West German
exclave An enclave is a territory (or a part of one) that is entirely surrounded by the territory of one other state. Enclaves may also exist within territorial waters. ''Enclave'' is sometimes used improperly to denote a territory that is only partly ...

exclave
of
west-Berlin West Berlin (german: Berlin (West) or ) was a political enclave which comprised the western part of Berlin during the years of the Cold War. Although not a part of West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, West Berlin aligned itself poli ...
. * The Nicosia Wall along the
Green Line Green Line may refer to: Places Military and political * Green Line (France), the German occupation line in France during World War II * Green Line (Israel), the 1949 armistice line established between Israel and its neighbours ** City Line (J ...
divides North and South Cyprus. * In the 20th century and after, many enclaves Jewish settlements in Israeli occipied territory were and are surrounded by fortified walls *
Mexico–United States barrier The Mexico–United States barrier ( es, barrera México–Estados Unidos), also known as the border wall, is a series of vertical barriers along the Mexico–United States border The Mexico–United States border ( es, frontera México ...
, a wall advocated by U.S. President
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician A politician is a person active in party politics A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective reci ...

Donald Trump
for the
Mexico–United States border The Mexico–United States border ( es, frontera México–Estados Unidos) is an Border, international border separating Mexico and the United States, extending from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Gulf of Mexico in the east. The border ...
to prevent illegal immigration, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and entry of potential terrorists *
Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom and the second-largest on the island of Ireland. It had a popul ...

Belfast
,
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
by the "
peace lines The peace lines or peace walls are a series of separation barriers in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ') is #Descriptions, variously described as a country, provin ...
". Additionally, in some countries, different embassies may be grouped together in a single "embassy district", enclosed by a fortified complex with walls and towersthis usually occurs in regions where the embassies run a high risk of being target of attacks. An early example of such a compound was the Legation Quarter in
Beijing Beijing ( ), as Peking ( ), is the of the . It is the world's , with over 21 million residents within an of 16,410.5 km2 (6336 sq. mi.). It is located in , and is governed as a under the direct administration of the with .Figures ...

Beijing
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most of these modern city walls are made of steel and concrete. Vertical concrete plates are put together so as to allow the least space in between them, and are rooted firmly in the ground. The top of the wall is often protruding and beset with
barbed wire A close-up view of a barbed wire Roll of modern agricultural barbed wire Barbed wire, also known as barb wire, occasionally corrupted as bobbed wire or bob wire, is a type of steel Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal ...

barbed wire
in order to make climbing them more difficult. These walls are usually built in straight lines and covered by watchtowers at the corners. Double walls with an interstitial "zone of fire", as the former Berlin Wall had, are now rare. In September 2014, Ukraine announced the construction of the "European Rampart" alongside its border with Russia to be able to successfully apply for a visa-free movement with the European Union.


Composition

At its simplest, a defensive wall consists of a wall enclosure and its gates. For the most part, the top of the walls were accessible, with the outside of the walls having tall
parapet A parapet is a barrier that is an extension of the wall at the edge of a roof A roof is the top covering of a building A building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a ...
s with
embrasure File:Pillbox embrasures, Large, on Taunton Stop Line.JPG, Pillbox (military), Pillbox stepped embrasure, Taunton Stop Line, England An embrasure is the opening in a battlement between the two raised solid portions, referred to as crenel or cren ...
s or
merlon A merlon is the solid upright section of a battlement A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of city wall A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for t ...
s. North of the Alps, this passageway at the top of the walls occasionally had a roof. In addition to this, many different enhancements were made over the course of the centuries: * City ditch: a ditch dug in front of the walls, occasionally filled with water. *
Gate tower A gate tower (german: Torturm) is a tower A tower is a tall structure, taller than it is wide, often by a significant factor. Towers are distinguished from masts by their lack of guy-wires and are therefore, along with tall buildings, self-s ...
: a tower built next to, or on top of the city gates to better defend the city gates. * Wall tower: a tower built on top of a segment of the wall, which usually extended outwards slightly, so as to be able to observe the exterior of the walls on either side. In addition to arrow slits, ballistae, catapults and cannons could be mounted on top for extra defence. * Pre-wall: wall built outside the wall proper, usually of lesser height the space in between was usually further subdivided by additional walls. * Additional obstacles in front of the walls. The defensive towers of west and south European fortifications in the Middle Ages were often very regularly and uniformly constructed (cf. Ávila,
Provins Provins () is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to o ...

Provins
), whereas Central European city walls tend to show a variety of different styles. In these cases the gate and wall towers often reach up to considerable heights, and gates equipped with two towers on either side are much rarer. Apart from having a purely military and defensive purpose, towers also played a representative and artistic role in the conception of a fortified complex. The architecture of the city thus competed with that of the castle of the noblemen and city walls were often a manifestation of the pride of a particular city. Urban areas outside the city walls, so-called Vorstädte, were often enclosed by their own set of walls and integrated into the defense of the city. These areas were often inhabited by the poorer population and held the "noxious trades". In many cities, a new wall was built once the city had grown outside of the old wall. This can often still be seen in the layout of the city, for example in
Nördlingen Nördlingen () is a Town#Germany, town in the Donau-Ries district, in Swabia (Bavaria), Swabia, Bavaria, Germany, with a population of approximately 19,190. It is located approximately east of Stuttgart, and northwest of Munich. It was built in ...
, and sometimes even a few of the old gate towers are preserved, such as the ''white tower'' in
Nuremberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants ...

Nuremberg
. Additional constructions prevented the circumvention of the city, through which many important trade routes passed, thus ensuring that tolls were paid when the caravans passed through the city gates, and that the local market was visited by the trade caravans. Furthermore, additional signaling and observation towers were frequently built outside the city, and were sometimes fortified in a castle-like fashion. The border of the area of influence of the city was often partially or fully defended by elaborate ditches, walls and hedges. The crossing points were usually guarded by gates or gate houses. These defenses were regularly checked by riders, who often also served as the gate keepers. Long stretches of these defenses can still be seen to this day, and even some gates are still intact. To further protect their territory, rich cities also established castles in their area of influence. An example of this practice is the Romanian
Bran Castle german: Törzburg hu, Törcsvár , alternate_names = Mister Valentin's house , image = Castelul Bran2.jpg , caption = Bran Castle , map_type = Romania , altitude = , building_type = Fortre ...

Bran Castle
, which was intended to protect nearby Kronstadt (today's Braşov). The city walls were often connected to the fortifications of hill castles via additional walls. Thus the defenses were made up of city and castle fortifications taken together. Several examples of this are preserved, for example in Germany
HirschhornHirschhorn is derived from German composite word "Hirsch" (deer) and "Horn" (horn), part of a deer's antlers. A variation is Hirshhorn. It may refer to: * Hirschhorn (Neckar), a town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany * Hirschhorn, Rhineland-Palatinate, ...
on the Neckar,
Königsberg Königsberg (, , ) was the name for the historic Prussian city that is now Kaliningrad, Russia. Königsberg was founded in 1255 on the site of the ancient Old Prussian settlement ''Twangste'' by the Teutonic Knights during the Northern Crusade ...

Königsberg
and
Pappenheim Pappenheim is a town in the Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen district, in Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a ...

Pappenheim
, Franken, Burghausen in
Oberbayern Upper Bavaria (german: Oberbayern, ) is one of the seven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as ma ...
and many more. A few castles were more directly incorporated into the defensive strategy of the city (e.g.
Nuremberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants ...

Nuremberg
,
Zons Zons (), formerly known as Feste Zons ''(Fortress A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intens ...

Zons
,
Carcassonne Carcassonne (, also , , ; ; la, Carcaso) is a French fortified city A defensive wall is a fortification A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized ...

Carcassonne
), or the cities were directly outside the castle as a sort of "pre-castle" (Coucy-le-Chateau,
Conwy Conwy (, ), previously known in English as Conway, is a walled market town A market town is a European settlement that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or mediev ...

Conwy
and others). Larger cities often had multiple stewards for example
Augsburg Augsburg ( , , ; bar, Augschburg, links=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swabian_German, label=Swabian German) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, ...

Augsburg
was divided into a Reichstadt and a clerical city. These different parts were often separated by their own fortifications.


Dimensions of famous city walls


Gallery


Africa


Americas


Asia


China


Europe


Roman


See also

*
List of cities with defensive wallsThe following cities have, or historically had, defensive wall A defensive wall is a fortification usually used to protect a city, town or other settlement from potential aggressors. The walls can range from simple palisades or earthworks to ex ...
* List of town walls in England and Wales * List of walls *
Ancient Roman defensive walls Defensive walls are a feature of ancient Roman architecture. The Romans generally fortified cities, rather than building stand-alone fortresses, but there are some fortified camps, such as the Saxon Shore#The forts, Saxon Shore forts like Portus ...
*
Barricade Barricade (from the French ''barrique Oak is used in winemaking to vary the color, flavor, tannins (wine), tannin profile and texture of wine. It can be introduced in the form of a barrel during the fermentation (wine), fermentation or agin ...

Barricade
*
Border barrier A border barrier is a that runs along or near an . Such barriers are typically constructed for purposes such as curbing , , and . Some such barriers are constructed for defence or security reasons. In cases of a or , erecting a barrier can s ...
*
Chinese city wall wall of Pingyao Chinese city walls () refer to defensive systems used to protect towns and cities in China in pre-modern times. In addition to walls, city defenses often included wall tower, towers and city gate, gates. Meaning of the word ''Che ...
*
Citadel A citadel is the core fortified area of a town or city. It may be a castle in East Sussex East Sussex is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brooke ...

Citadel
*
Glacis A glacis (; ) in military engineering Military engineering is loosely defined as the art, science, and practice of designing and building military works and maintaining lines of military transport Military supply-chain management is a cross-f ...

Glacis
*
Medieval fortification Medieval fortification refers to medieval military methods that cover the development of fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to estab ...
*
Mural crown A mural crown ( la, corona muralis) is a crown '' File:서봉총 금관 금제드리개.jpg, The Seobongchong Golden Crown of Ancient Silla, which is 339th National Treasure of South Korea. It is basically following the standard type of Sil ...
*
Murus Dacicus Image:Cetatea Blidaru.JPG, ''Murus Dacicus'' at Dacian Fortress "Blidaru". Murus Dacicus (Latin for ''Dacian Wall'') is a construction method for defensive walls and fortifications developed in ancient Dacia sometime before the Roman conquest. It i ...
*
Murus Gallicus
Murus Gallicus
*
Talus (fortification) The talus is an architectural feature of some late medieval The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period of European history lasting from AD 1250 to 1500. The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages The High Middle Ag ...


Notes


References

* . * * * * Monika Porsche: ''Stadtmauer und Stadtentstehung'' Untersuchungen zur frühen Stadtbefestigung im mittelalterlichen Deutschen Reich. - Hertingen, 2000. . * * * {{Authority control Castle architecture Fortification (architectural elements)


External links


San Juan City Walls