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Defensive wall

Defensive walls were common from the ancient period into the medieval period. Generally, these are referred to as city walls, although there were also walls, such as the Great Wall of China and the Atlantic Wall, which extended far beyond the borders of a city and were used to enclose vast regions.

City walls were still occasionally used as late as the 19th Century although by this time they were generally of wood (rather than stone) construction and used only around small frontier settlements. City walls also had towers and were frequently surrounded by trenches.

The practice of building these massive walls had been developed sometime before the rise of the Sumerian Empire and was connected with the rise of city-states.

Oftentimes the walls proved impenetrable to attacking armies which then laid siege to the city.

Within walled cities, the poor and "noxious trades" were generally located near or outside the walls.

Table of contents
1 China
2 Croatia
3 England
4 France
5 Germany
6 Israel
7 Middle East
8 Morocco and Western Sahara
9 Spain
10 Turkey
11 United States


Chinese cities occasionally have remnants of city walls that were built in the Ming Dynasty and designed to withstand artillery bombardment. Chinese cities generally outgrew their walls, which fell into disrepair in the Qing dynasty. The walls of Xian are still well-preserved.

The walls of Beijing were demolished during the 1960s to open large streets around the city. A metro line also follows the location of the former city walls.

Walled villagess can still be found in Mainland China and Hong Kong.



Fragments of London Wall the wall that once surrounded the Roman town of Londinium are still visible just outside the Museum of London.

The remnants of the city walls of York are both a shortcut above the streets and, as in many places, a tourist attraction.



The German Democratic Republic claimed that the Berlin Wall was not defensive; but rather was intended to prevent unauthorized emigration.


Middle East

Morocco and Western Sahara

In the 1980s Morocco built a system of sand wall defenses, the Western Sahara walls, to keep the Polisario out of the Western Sahara.


Portions of a Roman wall are still standing in Barcelona, and many Spanish cities, such as Avila and Toledo, have medieval walls.


United States

Wall Street, in New York City, is named after New York's old city wall, long since dismantled.

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