Walls in World Heritage — Dividing & Uniting the People

The Wailing Wall & The Dome of Rock

There are over 100 walled heritage sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage list (UNESCO). Throughout history, walls have played an important part in keeping people out and in at the same time. Because of the very opposing functionality of walls, they have created contested views on the management or inclusion of these “dissonant” pieces of heritage (Creigton, 343). The walls that once divided the people based on geography or nationality, the WHS list has managed to use these walls to unite people of the world through its universal outstanding value and shared global heritage.

Walls, where they create an idea of permanency and stability, they also can be used as psychological tool to enforce order or a sense of superiority. Anthropologists have argued that the dual nature of walls and the meaning they stand for, has led to a fractured sense of identity (Creigton, 344).

The walls that are now celebrated as a symbol of shared national identity, were often once constructed to create division. However these tools of separation are now being resurfaced as ‘monuments to urban identity’, the reason behind this resurrection is time (Creigton, 346). The monuments have stood the test of time; where not only the monuments have suffered degradation but also altered or lessened the memories of pain or bloodshed associated with some of these walls.

It is impossible to discuss walls and World Heritage sites and not mention the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall is accessible to tourists from the Badaling Great wall area in Beijing. The wall is one of top ten most visited world heritage sites in the world (Wall, 1069). The wall is remembered for its enormity and stability through time, the continuous construction from 3rd BC to 17th century AD, is an evidence of the power and stability of the Chinese civilization that the physical features of the wall represent (UNESCO).

Throughout the history where walls have been used to create divisions and keep people out, there is one wall that is a true epitome of unity, through the very meaning it represents; the Old city of Jerusalem and its Walls. This city and its wall shows significance to top three religions of the world, Christianity, Judaism and Islam — hence a true representation outstanding universal value to the world heritage (UNESCO). The section of the wall called “the wailing wall’ holds importance to all three religions and has frequented visitors and tourists both.