Borders are what have defined and divided civilizations for centuries. Mankind’s knack for constructing barriers still is ever present in our world today. In recognition of history’s most iconic walls, we have pulled together a list of 7 prominent partitions from across the globe. Here they are, the world’s most famous walls:
1. Western Wall (Wailing Wall), Jerusalem
A site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage since the 4th century, the Western Wall is arguably the most sacred site recognized by the Jewish faith, aside from the Temple Mount near which it stands. The wall is a remnant of the original wall the surrounded the temple courtyard.
If you go: Book a reservation at the Western Wall Tunnels to see the excavated wall on an underground tour.
2. Berlin Wall, Germany
The Berlin Wall was constructed by East Germany in 1961. The barrier was built to divide West Berlin from East Germany and stop massive emigration from the communist Eastern Bloc (which included East Germany) to Western Europe during the post-World War II period. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the beginning of German reunification and a key moment in the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Today, parts of the wall remain where they were built, while some panels of the wall have been relocated to the Berlin Wall Memorial Site Monument site.
If you go: Take one of the bike tours that guide you along the wall.
3. Great Wall of China
Thousands of miles long, passing through 156 counties, with 7,062 lookout towers, the Great Wall of China is the largest cultural relic humans have ever built. Wall construction began more than 2,000 years ago in an attempt to keep out the tribes from the north.
If you go: The most colorful (and less costly) times to go are spring and autumn — pink cherry blossoms blanket the landscape outside of Beijing in late-March and in mid-October red leaves abound near Badaling National Forest Park.
4. Wall Street, New York City
It is generally accepted that the name of Wall Street is rooted in an actual wall that ran along the northern boundary of New Amsterdam, a 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement on the southern tip of Manhattan Island. Of course, the Wall Street we know today has become analogous to the entire American financial sector, not so much an earthen wall constructed to protect a Dutch settlement.
If you go: Take the Wall Street Experience Tour, which is led by actual Wall Street brokers.
5. Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic
The Lennon Wall started out as just a normal wall, but sometime during the 1980s an avid Lennon fan decided to decorate the wall with images of the musical icon. Since the 1980’s, the wall has been filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from Beatles songs.
If you go: Bring a Sharpie and your favorite Lennon lyrics.
6. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Washington, D.C.
This memorial includes the names of over 58,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives in service in the Vietnam Conflict. Construction was completed in late October 1982 and the memorial was dedicated on Nov. 13, 1982. Maya Lin, the 21 year old Chinese-American architecture student who designed it at the time said of her wall: “I had an impulse to cut open the earth . . . an initial violence that would heal. The grass would grow back but the cut would remain.” In a hauntingly beautiful tribute, the names on the memorial are arranged chronologically by date of casualty. According to the National Park Service, “The panels are filled like pages of a journal listing the men and women's names as they fell.”
If you go: Finding a name on the wall can be a challenge. Printed registries are available near the memorial wall and are organized alphabetically by last name.
7. London Wall
Fragments of the ancient London Wall are still visible throughout the city. There is even a street named after the wall, aptly called London Wall, on which the Museum of London is located. The London Wall was built by the Romans around 43 AD to encircle a city they called Londinium.
If you go: Take the London Wall Walk tour, leaving from the Museum of London.