If you’re visiting Dubrovnik, travelling from Split to Dubrovnik, or you’re on your way to Korčula, paying a visit to Ston and its fascinating walls will be worth the time and effort. However, are the walls of Ston really second longest in the world?
- NO. The Walls of Ston are not “the second longest wall in the world”, as some believe
- The Walls of Ston may not even be the longest wall in Europe
- However, the Walls of Ston are (most probably) the longest preserved medieval stone fortification system in Europe, and ONE of the longest such walls in the world
Hands down, the Walls of Ston are amazing. However, let’s compare them with other walls around the world.
THE Longest One
I believe that it is obvious which wall is THE longest. Of course, it’s the Great Wall of China (Ming Great Wall).
The Ming Great Wall (明長城; Ming changcheng), built by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), forms the most visible parts of the Great Wall of China today. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi) from Jiayu Pass in the west to the sea in Shanhai Pass, then looping over to terminate in Manchuria at the Hushan Great Wall.
This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers
Photo By J. Samuel Burner , Wikipedia
Now, this is where problems begin. Several walls are CLAIMED to be second longest. (for example, Iran Great Wall of Gorgan in Iran, (World’s second longest wall))
However, JUST IN CHINA, there are about a DOZEN walls, apart from the famous Great Wall of China. Some of them (were) extending for thousands of kilometres!
Outside of China, there are (or were) many long walls, too.
Wall Of Kumbhalgarh, India
On the Wikipedia site on Walls, the Wall of Kumbalgarh, in Rajastan, being 38 kilometres long, is described as second largest in the world.
Ranikot Fort (The Great Wall Of Sindh), Pakistan
Ranikot Fort (Sindhi: رني ڪوٽ, Urdu: قِلعہ رانی کوٹ) (also known as Rannikot) is a historical Talpur fort near Sann, Jamshoro District, Sindh, Pakistan. Ranikot Fort is also known as The Great Wall of Sindh and is believed to be the world’s largest fort, with a circumference of approximately 32 kilometres (20 mi). The fort’s ramparts have been compared to the Great Wall of China. (Wikipedia)
Hadrian’s Wall, England
Hadrian’s Wall was 80 Roman miles or 117.5 km (73.0 mi) long. Sections of Hadrian’s Wall still remain, particularly in its hilly central sector. Little remains in lowland regions, where the Wall was previously plundered as a source of free stone for new buildings. This is might be longest walls in Europe (well it depends if you take the Berlin Wall into the picture or not).
About The Walls Of Ston
After the Republic of Dubrovnik acquired Pelješac in 1334, it needed the protection of the town of Ston. First, in thirty years, a defensive wall was built from one side of the peninsula to the other, and according to a unique project, two fortified towns were built: Ston, on the southern part of the wall, and Mali Ston, at the northern point. The aim was to gather people to defend the border and to work at the saltworks.
Between 1461 and 1464, the Florentine architect Michelozzo worked on the Ston fortifications by order of the Republic of Dubrovnik. For the Great Wall (1200 m long) on Pozvizd, in order to protect it from neighbours, the chronicles state that its construction lasted 18 months and cost 12,000 ducats.
Ston fortifications are without a doubt one of the largest construction projects of that time, the original length of which is 7000 metres. It consists of the walls of Ston and Mali Ston, the Great Wall with three fortresses, while the walls and fortresses are flanked by 10 round and 31 square towers bastion.
The walls were of great importance, because they defended the salt works, which brought the Republic of Dubrovnik 15,900 ducats (gold coins) every year.
The walls of Ston were damaged in the great earthquake of 1667. It is interesting that one part of them was demolished in 1874 during the preparations for the arrival of the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I (1830-1916), and the reason given was the suppression of malaria.
According to historians, the real reason for the Austrian demolition campaign was the loss of the defensive significance of the Ston walls after the fall of the Dubrovnik Republic in 1808. The Austrians sold the stone as building material and transported the cannons from the fort to Vienna where they melted.
In 2004, the restoration work of the walls began, aiming to enable visits to the area between Veliki and Mali Ston. The renovation of the Great Wall in Ston, worth about five million kunas, was completed and the Walls were open to the public in May 2009.
It takes 15 minutes to walk around the central part of the wall, and 30 minutes to get from Veliki to Mali Ston across the wall.
Does Size Really Matter?
The Walls of Ston are certainly not the longest wall in the world. They may not be even the second longest.
The Walls of Ston are (most probably) the longest preserved medieval stone fortification system in Europe, and ONE of the longest such walls in the world.
However, as you can see from the photos, the allure of the Walls of Ston is not about their size. It’s about their harmony and the fascinating view on the Walls and OFF the Walls.
The little town of Ston, with its “baby brother”, Mali Ston, are like a déjà-vu of Dubrovnik. Minus the crowds. Time has apparently stopped there. And the lush green hills, covered with thick Mediterranean maquis forest, are a true delight.
The salt works of Ston, raison d’être of Ston, are equally as fascinating.
Finally, seafood in Ston is delicious. Ston is famous for its oysters and mussels. I have never tasted a better “black risotto” than in Mali Ston!
So, if you happen to travel by Ston, don’t miss an opportunity to explore the “Great Wall Of Ston” and savour its fascinating aromas!