From the earliest civilizations, humanity has built walls for protection, demarcation, and sometimes simply as a testament to their engineering prowess. As we look back, some of these walls not only served practical purposes but also became symbols of the era in which they were built. Let’s first discover which walls made it to our top 10 list of the world’s tallest man-made walls and then embark on a journey through history and engineering.
List: Top 10 Tallest Artificial Walls in the World
Dams stand as monumental testaments to human engineering prowess, harnessing the vast power of water for various purposes, from electricity generation to flood control. While many iconic walls, like the Great Wall of China, span impressive lengths across landscapes, they don’t come close in vertical stature to the world’s highest dams.
These colossal structures rise hundreds of meters, dwarfing most other man-made walls on the planet. Their sheer height and scale underline the audaciousness of human ambition and the desire to tame and utilize nature’s immense force. While the exact order and precise heights of these walls may vary based on different sources and renovations, the following is a general overview:
Top 10 Tallest Walls / Dams in the World
- Rogun, Tajikistan – Rock-fill dam – 335 meters / 1,099.4 feet
- Jinping I, China – Arch dam – 305 meters / 1,000.6 feet
- Nurek, Tajikistan – Rock-fill dam – 300 meters / 984.25 feet
- Lianghekou, China – Rock-fill dam – 295 meters / 967.95 feet
- Xiaowan, China – Arch dam – 292 meters / 958 feet
- Baihetan, China – Arch dam – 289 meters / 948.5 feet
- Xiluodu, China – Double-arch dam – 285 meters / 935.4 feet
- Grande Dixence, Switzerland – Gravity dam – 285 meters / 935.4 feet
- Enguri, Georgia – Arch dam – 271 meters / 889 feet
- Vajont, Italy – Double-arch dam – 262 meters / 859.6 feet
The heights of dams are awe-inspiring, representing not only significant feats of engineering but also the ways in which humanity has harnessed natural resources for power and other utilities.
1. Rogun, Tajikistan
Rising to 1,099.4 feet, Rogun is the world’s tallest rock-fill dam. Located on the Vakhsh River, it’s a pivotal component of Tajikistan’s efforts to increase its electricity production and potential export capabilities.
2. Jinping I, China
Towering at 1,000.6 feet, Jinping I is an arch dam on the Yalong River. Part of China’s extensive hydroelectric efforts, it helps provide power to millions, exemplifying modern engineering marvels.
3. Nurek, Tajikistan
The Nurek Dam, standing at 984.25 feet, is one of the world’s highest. Holding back the Vakhsh River, it has been a monumental energy provider for Tajikistan since the 1980s.
4. Lianghekou, China
At 967.95 feet, the Lianghekou Dam is among China’s remarkable hydroelectric projects. Located on the Yalong River, it contributes to China’s massive renewable energy grid.
5. Xiaowan, China
Xiaowan Dam, with its height of 958 feet on the Lancang River, is an engineering wonder. Playing a vital role in electricity production, it’s a testament to China’s hydroelectric ambitions.
6. Baihetan, China
Stretching 948.5 feet high, the Baihetan Dam is a remarkable arch dam on the Jinsha River. Part of China’s vast renewable infrastructure, it combines energy production with flood control.
7. Xiluodu, China
The 935.4-foot Xiluodu Double-arch Dam is a significant structure on the Jinsha River. It is not just an energy powerhouse but also a symbol of modern dam engineering.
8. Grande Dixence, Switzerland
Switzerland’s Grande Dixence, standing at 935.4 feet, is the world’s tallest gravity dam. Nestled in the Alps, it’s a crucial component of the country’s hydroelectric network.
9. Enguri, Georgia
The 889-foot Enguri Arch Dam spans the Enguri River, serving as a vital electricity provider for Georgia. Its elegant arch design complements the scenic surroundings.
10. Vajont, Italy
The 859.6-foot Vajont Dam is historically significant. While an engineering feat, a catastrophic landslide in 1963 resulted in a tragic flood, making it a cautionary tale in dam construction.
Different Uses of Huge Dams: Climbing the Diga di Luzzone
The Diga di Luzzone, while primarily known as one of the world’s tallest dams, offers a unique thrill to adventure-seekers: it doubles as one of the highest artificial climbing walls. Located in Switzerland, this dam has been transformed into a climber’s paradise, presenting a challenge that stretches an impressive 165 meters skyward. Climbers looking to conquer this behemoth are met with a series of holds and routes bolted onto the dam’s face, allowing them to ascend this massive vertical expanse.
To reach the top, climbers use a combination of strength, technique, and mental endurance, making the ascent both physically and psychologically challenging. However, those who reach the summit are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps and the turquoise waters of the reservoir below. Climbing the Diga di Luzzone offers an unparalleled experience, merging the realms of human-made marvels with extreme sports in an extraordinary setting.
Other Huge Climbing Walls
Excalibur at the Bjoeks Climbing Center, Groningen, Netherlands
Touted as one of the world’s tallest freestanding climbing towers, Excalibur at the Bjoeks Climbing Center stands a remarkable 37 meters tall. With its distinct curved design, this tower offers a unique climbing experience. The challenges vary from moderate to difficult, catering to both novices and seasoned climbers. Its location in Groningen provides a serene backdrop, making each ascent not only a test of skill but also a visual delight.
BaseCamp’s Outdoor Wall, Reno, Nevada
BaseCamp, located in Reno, boasts North America’s tallest climbing wall. Stretching to an astounding 164 feet, this outdoor attraction is not for the faint of heart. As climbers ascend, they are met with panoramic views of downtown Reno and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains. With various routes available, the wall is adaptable to different skill levels, ensuring that everyone from beginners to pros gets a taste of the adrenaline rush.
CopenHill, Copenhagen designed by Walltopia
In a seamless blend of utility and recreation, CopenHill in Copenhagen stands out. Designed by Walltopia, this structure is a waste-to-energy plant that doubles as a sports facility. Its climbing wall, at 85 meters, is among the world’s tallest. Climbers tackling this behemoth are met with views of Copenhagen’s skyline. Beyond climbing, CopenHill’s innovative design promotes sustainable living and recreation, making it a landmark in more ways than one.
Comm Row Hotel, Reno, Nevada
Before BaseCamp’s rise, the Comm Row Hotel in Reno was a hub for climbing enthusiasts. This urban venue hosted a unique 164-foot climbing wall, making it a focal point for those looking to tackle a significant climb within city confines. Its position amidst Reno’s skyline offered climbers a blend of urban and natural vistas, creating a distinct climbing environment.