I am confident I’m not alone in saying travel makes me feel alive, free, and ready to explore. But can you still have that sense of freedom visiting an area that is, or once was, guarded by an actual wall? Whether it’s fear of the other side, wanting people to stay put, or wanting to control the entire area, walls were built all over the world throughout history. China, Germany, England, Scotland, and Argentina are all homes to an area that at one point was separated and divided by a wall. Here are the names of those walls that are definitely worth taking a trip to see:
Great Wall of China
Possibly the most iconic of walls, the Great Wall of China is actually made up of continuous tiny walls. With over 5,500 miles of wall, including hills and rivers, it’s no wonder why this massive structure is considered one of the great wonders of the world. The wall has been being built, torn down, rebuilt, and transformed since the 7th century. Some of the many reasons the wall is believed to have been built as protection for the northern borders of the Chinese Empire, to keep the Mongolian nomads out of China, and to regulate trade, immigration, and emigration. Whether you’re visiting Beijing, Old Dragon’s Head, or Shanxi, the wall is easily accessible.
Although much of Hadrian’s Wall has been destroyed, you can still visit Northern England to see where it once sat to separate the Romans from the English. The 73-mile wall was built in Roman Britain in A.D. 122 making it the first wall built across Great Britain. When the creator of the wall Roman Emperor Hardian died, the new Emperor Antonnius Pius did not continue his vision. Pius abandoned the wall to built his own barrier in A.D. 142. The middle section of Hadrian’s Wall can still be seen today in Northern England.
When Emperor Antonnius Pius abandoned Hardian’s Wall for his own vision, he began what was named Antonine Wall. The wall ended up being a 39 mile wall in Scotland. This large wall built of stone ran across the central belt of Scotland and efficiently sat more than ten feet high and fifteen feet wide. The emperor’s goal was to protect the route north of Scotland. The construction took more than 12 years to complete the wall, but most of it has been destroyed today. You can still see remains of the wall from many sites including Bar Hill Fort, Bearsden Bath House, Castlecary, Croy Hill, Dullatur, Rough Castle, Seabegs, Wood, Watling Lodge, and Westerwood.
Zanja de Alsina
Unlike the Great Wall of China, Hardian’s Wall, Antonine Wall, and the Berlin Wall, Argentina’s Zanja de Alsina wasn’t built of stone and bricks. The barrier was made up of large wooden watchtowers and trenches. The blockade was built in the 1870s by order of President Nicolas Avellaneda in the south of the Buenos Aires Province. The name of the wall comes from President Avellaneda’s Argentine Minister of War, Adolfo Alsina and zanja literally meaning ditch or trench in Spanish. It’s believed that the 3 meter wide trenches and towers were constructed to defend the territories of the federal government.
Walls weren’t only built in the 1800s and AD times like the walls above. Another well-known roadblock, the Berlin Wall, was torn down just a few decades ago in 1989. The wall was built to separate East and West Germany and to limit emigration to the West in the post-World War II world. The construction began in 1961 and resulted in a wall that ran 96 miles long and stood more than 11 feet high. It’s estimated that 5,000 people attempted to pass through the wall and sadly, more than 200 people lost their lives trying to escape. Although the wall was torn down in 1989, there is still evidence of its existence in Berlin. A section of the wall was turned into a colorful area to display art called the East Side Gallery. The artwork was done by 118 artists from 21 different countries. Another area of the wall is in Mauerpark where musicians, jugglers, and entertainers gather as well as a commonplace for flea markets.
Kristen Kuchar, author of Mac n’ Cheese to the Rescue, is a freelance writer and editor that is thrilled to write about her greatest passions: travel and food. She loves cheese, craft beer, and adventures to find them both. When she’s not eating, cooking, or drinking, she’s enjoying the outdoors and planning her next journey with her husband, Mark. This spring, they’ll be venturing out on a culinary road trip visiting every state in the U.S. Follow her at @KristenKuchar.