A defensive wall is a fortification usually used to protect a city, town or other settlement from potential aggressors. In 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 walls, such as the Great Wall of China, Walls of Benin, Hadrian's Wall, Anastasian Wall, the Cyclopean Wall Rajgir and the metaphorical Atlantic Wall, which extended far beyond the borders of a city and were used to enclose regions or mark territorial boundaries. In mountainous terrain, defensive walls such as letzis 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 structures, although brick and timber-built variants are also known. Depending on the topography 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 and are often supplemented with towers. The practice of building these massive walls, though having its origins in prehistory, was refined during the rise of city-states, and energetic wall-building continued into the medieval period and beyond in certain parts of Europe.
From very early history to modern times, walls have been a near necessity for every city. Uruk in ancient Sumer (Mesopotamia) is one of the world's oldest known walled cities. Before that, the proto-city of Jericho in the West Bank in Palestine had a wall surrounding it as early as the 8th millennium BC.
Some settlements in the Indus Valley Civilization were also fortified. By about 3500 BC, hundreds of small farming villages dotted the Indus floodplain. Many of these settlements had fortifications and planned streets. The stone and mud brick houses of 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 (c. 2500 BC) in present-day south-east Afghanistan has defensive walls and square bastions of sun dried bricks.
Exceptions were few, but neither ancient Sparta nor ancient 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.
In Central Europe, the Celts built large fortified settlements which the Romans called oppida, whose walls seem partially influenced by those built in the Mediterranean. The fortifications were continuously expanded and improved.
In ancient Greece, large stone walls had been built in Mycenaean Greece, such as the ancient site of Mycenae (famous for the huge stone blocks of its 'cyclopean' walls). In classical era Greece, the city of Athens built a long set of parallel stone walls called the Long Walls that reached their guarded seaport at Piraeus.
Large rammed earth walls were built in ancient China since the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600–1050 BC), as the capital at ancient Ao had enormous walls built in this fashion (see siege for more info). Although stone walls were built in China during the Warring States (481–221 BC), mass conversion to stone architecture did not begin in earnest until the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD). Sections of the Great Wall had been built prior to the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BC) and subsequently connected and fortified during the Qin dynasty, although its present form was mostly an engineering feat and remodeling of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD). The large walls of Pingyao serve as one example. Likewise, the walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing were established in the early 15th century by the Yongle Emperor.
The Romans fortified their cities with massive, mortar-bound stone walls. Among these are the largely extant Aurelian Walls of Rome and the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople, together with partial remains elsewhere. These are mostly city gates, like the Porta Nigra in Trier or Newport Arch in Lincoln.
Apart from these, the early Middle Ages 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. 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. 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.
During the Renaissance era, the Venetians raised great walls around cities threatened by the Ottoman Empire. Examples include the walled cities of Nicosia and Famagusta in Cyprus and the fortifications of Candia and Chania in Crete, which still stand.
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 parapets with embrasures or merlons. 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:
The defensive towers of west and south European fortifications in the Middle Ages were often very regularly and uniformly constructed (cf. Ávila, 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, and sometimes even a few of the old gate towers are preserved, such as the white tower in 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, 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 Hirschhorn on the Neckar, Königsberg and Pappenheim, Franken, Burghausen in Oberbayern and many more. A few castles were more directly incorporated into the defensive strategy of the city (e.g. Nuremberg, Zons, Carcassonne), or the cities were directly outside the castle as a sort of "pre-castle" (Coucy-le-Chateau, Conwy and others). Larger cities often had multiple stewards – for example Augsburg was divided into a Reichstadt and a clerical city. These different parts were often separated by their own fortifications.
With the development of firearms came the necessity to expand the existing installation, which occurred in multiples stages. Firstly, additional, half-circular towers were added in the interstices between the walls and pre-walls in which a handful of cannons could be placed. Soon after, reinforcing structures – or "bastions" – were added in strategically relevant positions, such as at the gates or corners. A well-preserved example of this is the Spitalbastei in Rothenburg or the bastions built as part of the 17th-century walls surrounding Derry, a city in Northern Ireland; however, at this stage the cities were still only protected by relatively thin walls which could offer little resistance to the cannons of the time. Therefore, new, star forts with numerous cannons and thick earth walls reinforced by stone were built. These could resist cannon fire for prolonged periods of time. However, these massive fortifications severely limited the growth of the cities, as it was much more difficult to move them as compared to the simple walls previously employed – to make matters worse, it was forbidden to build "outside the city gates" for strategic reasons and the cities became more and more densely populated as a result.
In the wake of city growth and the ensuing change of defensive strategy, focusing more on the defense of forts 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 roads 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 in New York City, itself a metonym 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), 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, which led to the nearly complete preservation of many monuments such as the Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Nördlingen and Dinkelsbühl. The countless small fortified towns in the Franconia region were also preserved as a consequence of this edict.
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:
Additionally, in some countries, different embassies may be grouped together in a single "embassy district," enclosed by a fortified complex with walls and towers – this 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 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 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 had the former Berlin Wall, are now rare.
|Wall||Max width (m)||Lowest width (m)||Max Height (m)||Lowest Height (m)||Length (km)|
|Theodosian Walls (inner)||5.25||12||6|
|Theodosian Walls (outer)||2||9||8.5||6|
Bargylia (; Greek: Βαργυλία), was an ancient city on the coast of Caria in southwestern Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) between Iasos and Myndus. Bargylia's location corresponds to the modern Turkish town of Boğaziçi in Muğla Province.
The city was said to have been founded by Bellerophon in honour of his companion Bargylos (Greek: Βάργυλος), who had been killed by a kick from the winged horse Pegasus. Near Bargylia was the Temple of Artemis Cindyas. Strabo reports the local belief that rain would fall around the temple but never touch it. Artemis Cindyas and Pegasus appear on coinage of Bargylia.
In 201/200 BC during the Cretan War King Philip V of Macedon wintered his fleet in Bargylia when he was blockaded by the Pergamene and Rhodian fleets.Protarchus the Epicurean philosopher, the mentor of Demetrius Lacon, was a native of Bargylia.
On a headland next to the harbour at Bargylia there once stood a large tomb monument. Dating from the Hellenistic period (between 200-150 BC), the monument was dedicated to the sea monster Scylla. The over life-size figure of Scylla, along with a group of deferential and expectant hounds, was originally located at the apex of the building. The remains of this sculptural group, along with other parts of the stone structure, can be found in the British Museum's collection.There are currently reasonably extensive ruins at Bargylia, including the remnants of a temple, a theatre, a large defensive wall and a palaestra.Bawn
A bawn is the defensive wall surrounding an Irish tower house. It is the anglicised version of the Irish word bábhún (sometimes spelt badhún), possibly meaning "cattle-stronghold" or "cattle-enclosure". The Irish word for "cow" is bó and its plural is ba. The Irish word for "stronghold, enclosure" is dún, whose possessive case is dhún'".
The original purpose of bawns was to protect cattle from attack. They included trenches that were often strengthened with stakes or hedges. Over time, these were gradually replaced by walls. The name then began to be used for the walls that were built around tower houses.Chamber gate
A chamber gate (German: Kammertor) is a type of gateway system on medieval town fortifications and castles that comprises at least two successive gateways linked by an easily defended passageway between two walls. Chamber gates can be built in the space between two enceintes or built into an enceinte as an independent gateway. Because relatively few fortifications are surrounded by a complete second defensive wall, chamber gates are frequently found in short zwinger sections.
Chamber gates were often integrated into existing buildings and protected by the defensive levels above them, by defensive towers or by portcullises and drawbridges.Curtain wall (fortification)
A curtain wall is a defensive wall between two towers (bastions) of a castle, fortress, or town.Dunguaire Castle
Dunguaire Castle (Irish: Dún Guaire) is a 16th-century tower house on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway, Ireland, near Kinvara (also spelled Kinvarra). The name derives from the Dun of King Guaire, the legendary king of Connacht. The castle's 75-foot (23 m) tower and its defensive wall have been restored, and the grounds are open to tourists during the summer.Enceinte
Enceinte (from Latin incinctus: girdled, surrounded) is a French term denoting the "main defensive enclosure of a fortification". For a castle this is the main defensive line of wall towers and curtain walls enclosing the position. For a settlement it would be the main town wall with its associated gatehouses and towers and walls.
According to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, the term was strictly applied to the continuous line of bastions and curtain walls forming "the body of the place", this last expression being often used as synonymous with enceinte. However, the outworks or defensive wall close to the enceinte were not considered as forming part of it. In early 20th-century fortification, the enceinte was usually simply the innermost continuous line of fortifications.In architecture, generally, an enceinte is the close or precinct of a cathedral, abbey, castle, etc.Eric Braamhaar
Frederikus Johannes (Eric) Braamhaar (born October 13, 1966 in Rijssen) is a Dutch football referee. Braamhaar is known to have served as a FIFA referee during the period from 2003 to 2011. He officiated at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship and 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, as well as qualifying matches for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.He refereed the 2007 UEFA Champions League knockout stage match between Manchester United and Lille OSC. There was some controversy as Braamhaar allowed United's Ryan Giggs to take the free-kick and score before Lille goalkeeper Tony Sylva had assembled the defensive wall; Lille's players threatened to walk off the pitch leading them to be charged with improper conduct by UEFA. https://www.theguardian.com/football/2007/feb/23/newsstory.championsleague2 Four weeks later, while refereeing an Eredivisie, he was seen celebrating when Ajax scored their fifth goal in a 5–1 victory over PSV Eindhoven. PSV manager Ronald Koeman, thought he was celebrating the goal, but Braamhaar later explained that he celebrated because of his decision to play advantage after an Ajax player was fouled in the build-up.On April 26, 2007 he left the pitch during the UEFA Cup semi final between Osasuna and Sevilla due to a torn calf muscle. He was replaced by fourth official Pieter Vink.Faussebraye
A faussebraye (Italian: falsa braga) is a defensive wall located outside the main walls of a fortification. It is of a lower height than the main walls, and is preceded by a ditch. In Greek and Byzantine fortifications, the faussebraye was known as a proteichisma.Flanking tower
A flanking tower is a fortified tower that is sited on the outside of a defensive wall or other fortified structure and thus forms a flank. From the defensive platform and embrasures the section of wall between them (the curtain wall) could be swept from the side by ranged weapons. In High and Late Medieval castles and town walls flanking towers often had a semi-circular floor plan or a combination of a rectangular inner and semi-circular outer plans. There were also circular and rectangular towers. Corner flanking towers are found, for example, in the fortifications of the Alhambra and at the manor house of Hugenpoet Palace; Wellheim Castle has a square flanking tower.
In church architecture, a flanking tower is a semi-circular or polygonal (for example, octagonal) tower on the outer wall of the church. The church of Great St. Martin Church in Cologne has several flanking towers.Kabulistan
Kabulistan (Pashto/Persian: کابلستان) is a historical regional name referring to the territory that is centered on present-day Kabul Province of Afghanistan. It included the land as far as Peshawar and Swabi in what is now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. South of Kabulistan was the region of Afghanistan (Pashtunistan) and to the northwest was Khorasan.In many Greek and Latin sources, particularly editions of Ptolemy's Geography, the name of the region is given as Cabolitae (Καβολῖται). European writers in the 18th to the 20th centuries sometimes referred to Durrani Empire as the Kingdom of Caboul.The earliest rulers of Kabulistan were the Kabul Shahis, who ruled the region between 565 and 879 AD. Kabul Shahis had built a defensive wall around the city of Kabul to protect it against invaders, but despite that, they were conquered by the Saffarids of Zaranj. The remains of these walls are still visible over the mountains which are located inside Kabul city.List of fortresses in Korea
Korea has a variety of fortresses, including sanseong (mountain fortress), jinseong (camp fortress), and eupseong (city fortress). This is a list of notable fortresses.List of forts in colonial Santo Domingo
This page lists Forts and Gates that were constructed during Santo Domingo's colonial rule. Many of these forts were incorporated into a defensive wall that surrounded Ciudad Colonial (Santo Domingo), effectively creating bastions along the wall.There are also several gates which allowed access to the city, these gates were also protected by forts. A prime example is El Baluarte del Conde and La Puerta del Conde, where La Puerta del Conde served as an entrance to the city and El Baluarte served to protect the entrance.Machicolation
A machicolation (French: mâchicoulis) is a floor opening between the supporting corbels of a battlement, through which stones or other material, such as boiling water or boiling cooking oil, could be dropped on attackers at the base of a defensive wall. A smaller version found on smaller structures is called a box-machicolation. A similar feature often found in fortified buildings is called a murder hole, although these are generally located above entry ways instead. Machicolation includes meutrières – murder holes – in the ceilings of entrance passages as well as overhanging structures on buttresses or brackets at the top of walls. The equivalent but not identical device built in timber is known as hourds. Machicolation survived from the mid- twelfth century to the beginning of the sixteenth.The word can describe one such opening, or an entire projecting gallery or parapet supported on corbels.Operation Defensive Shield
Operation "Defensive Shield" (Hebrew: מִבְצָע חוֹמַת מָגֵן, Mivtza Homat Magen, literally "Operation Defensive Wall") was a large-scale military operation conducted by the Israel Defense Forces in 2002 during the course of the Second Intifada. It was the largest military operation in the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. The stated goal of the operation was to stop terrorist attacks. The spark that gave rise to the action was the March 27 suicide bombing during Passover Seder at the Park Hotel in the Israeli resort city of Netanya; a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 30 mostly elderly vacationers.Operation Defensive Shield began on March 29, 2002, with an incursion into Ramallah placing Yasser Arafat under siege in his Ramallah compound, followed by incursions into the six largest cities in the West Bank, and their surrounding localities. The Israel Defense Forces invaded Tulkarm and Qalqilya on April 1, Bethlehem the next day, Jenin and Nablus the next. From April 3–21, the period was characterized by strict curfews on civilian populations and restrictions of movement of international personnel, including at times prohibition of entry to humanitarian and medical personnel as well as human rights monitors and journalists.In May 2002, the Israeli troops had pulled out of the Palestinian cities, but maintained cordons of troops around West Bank towns and villages, and continued carrying out raids on Palestinian areas.The UN report on the subject says, "Combatants on both sides conducted themselves in ways that, at times, placed civilians in harm's way. Much of the fighting during Operation "Defensive Shield" occurred in areas heavily populated by civilians and in many cases heavy weaponry was used."Ostra, Marche
Ostra is a town and comune in the Marche, central Italy, near the modern Ostra Vetere, south-east of Senigallia.
The original name of the town was Montalboddo. In 1881 the name was changed to Ostra, like the ancient Roman city located near the modern town of Ostra.Stockade
A stockade is an enclosure of palisades and tall walls made of logs placed side by side vertically with the tops sharpened as a defensive wall.Tserakvi
Tserakvi (Georgian: წერაქვი) is a Georgian Orthodox monastic complex in Kvemo Kartli, Georgia, dating from the 12th-13th century. The monument is located near the eponymous village in the Marneuli district, flanked by the Shulaveri river. The complex includes the churches of the Assumption and of St. George as well as a bell tower, a wine cellar, and fragments of a defensive wall. The church of the Assumption is a three-nave hall church and contains a wall inscription from the 15th century.Ubisi
Ubisa (Georgian: უბისა) is a small village and a medieval monastic complex in Georgia, particularly in the region Imereti, some 25 km from the town Kharagauli.
The monastic complex of Ubisa comprises a 9th-century St. George’s Monastery founded by St. Gregory of Khandzta, a 4-floor tower (AD 1141), fragments of a 12th-century defensive wall and several other buildings and structures.
The monastery houses a unique cycle of murals from the late 14th century made by Damiane apparently influenced by art from the Byzantine Palaiologan period (1261-1453).
The monastery is also known for its honey made by the monks.Wall
A wall is a structure that defines an area, carries a load, or provides shelter or security. There are many kinds of walls, including:
Defensive walls in fortifications
Walls in buildings that form a fundamental part of the superstructure or separate interior rooms, sometimes for fire safety
Retaining walls, which hold back dirt, stone, water, or noise sound
Walls that protect from oceans (seawalls) or rivers (levees)
Permanent, solid fences
Border barriers between countries
Glass wall (only when most of the wall, in smaller amounts it is called a window)
Doors are mobile walls on hinges which open to form a gateway