3 Wonderful walls from the past you should know

The walls are perhaps some of the types of structures which have played an essential purpose in architecture since the old times: they simply divide space into two, drawing a limit. In many cases, those architectural marvels had a military purpose: to defend a city or a nation from invaders (just like China’s Great Wall.) In this post, you will find three ancient walls that have become true wonders you should know.

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall is a former defensive construction of the island of Britain, built between the years 122-132 under the command of the Roman Emperor Hadrian to defend the territory from the Picts tribes that extended north of the wall, in what later would become Scotland after the invasion of the Scots from Ireland. The wall’s function was also to maintain an economic stability and creating favorable conditions for peace in the Roman province of Britannia. Today, there are still important parts of the wall, while other sections have just disappeared during the centuries.

Looking towards Crag Lough
Image courtesy of Alex at Flickr.com

It is stretched for 117 km from the Gulf of Solway, west to the River Tyne in the east, between Pons Aelius (Newcastle upon Tyne current) and Maglona (Wigton.) The wall was built entirely with stone blocks, with an average thickness of 2.4 to 3 m and an average height of 3.6 and 4.8 m. It had 14 main keeps and 80 structures that housed for monitoring key points and a military road that ran by its southern side. Another road was built to protect the wall of attacks from the south. Its name is sometimes used as a synonym for the border between Scotland and England, although the wall follows a line further south than the modern border.

Walls of Troy

Troy or is both a historical and a legendary city. The historical Troy was inhabited since the beginning of the third millennium. It is located in the current Turkish province of Çanakkale, near the Dardanelles, between Scamander and Simois rivers, and occupies a strategic position on the shores of the Black Sea. After centuries of neglect, the ruins of Troy were discovered during excavations in 1871 by Heinrich Schliemann, after some initial surveys conducted from 1863 by Frank Calvert.

Image courtesy of QuartierLatin1968 at Flickr.com

Related: 7 Ancient architectural wonders you should visit, by Kenny Slaught

The legendary wall consisted of an enclosure of stone structures of an average width of 2.50 m, probably with quadrangular bastions. The average height is 3.50 m. It was formed by irregular stones and narrowed on the high side. The layout of the walls has a diameter of about 200m. A second concentric encirclement precedent has an average height of 6 m and a thickness of 5 m. It was reached by a front door, controlled by a fortified tower and three other high structures which converged radially towards the northern center of the city, now disappeared. Passing through the doors there are pillar-shaped rectangular stones, each one embedded in another block of stone, about the size of a person. This type of architectural elements is quite common in the Hittite area. Archaeologist Peter Neve thinks it might be related to the cult of protective deities of the doors, while Manfred Korfmann suggests that it could be related to the cult of Apollo.

The construction technique is complex. The stone structure has base and superstructure of bricks at a height 4-5 m. Inside the walls, there are still few houses of rectangular shape with a porch floor, but only the ground floor remains today.


Image courtesy of Jeremy Reding at Flickr.com

Saksaywaman (Quechua Saqsaywaman: “Place where the hawk is satisfied”) is a ceremonial fortress of the ancient Inca Empire, located two kilometers north of the city of Cuzco, in Peru. It is located at an altitude of 3,700 meters above the sea level and covers an area of 3,093 hectares. The construction is typical of the Inca architecture, although it is the place where this technique was used on a larger scale. The rocks were cut at a quarry, then they were dragged with ropes by hundreds of men to the construction site, and there it was given the final cut. The ropes used were so impressive that they were mentioned by the Spanish conquistador Diego de Trujillo in 1571 after inspecting a room full of construction materials.

It is thought that it was a military fortress where the Inca warriors trained. According to its architecture, it could have had a religious purpose and it was built as a grand temple to the Sun God. However, during the time of the conquest, it showed its effectiveness as a fortress to defend the city. Its main feature is the way it was built: large stone blocks, reaching an average height of 9 m. The construction took around 50 years, and it began in the period of Tupac Yupanqui. It was built by 20,000 men.

Recommended: Repurposing Old Military Structures


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