There are plenty of places around the world which claim to be home to the “world’s largest” object. There’s something about human nature that makes us want to make things as big as we can. Join us as we take a look at some of the world’s biggest man-made structures.
The Great Wall of China | China
People say that, at 5500 miles long, the Great Wall of China is so big it can be seen from the moon. They’re right, it can. Through a telescope.
Originally built to protect China’s northern border, territorial changes mean that most of the wall now goes through the middle of the country (which must be very inconvenient for a few hundred million people.) In fact, the Great Wall isn’t just one wall at all; it’s many bits of wall, some of which aren’t even joined together. I’m no military strategist, but if I was building a giant wall to keep out foreign armies, I’d make sure it was all in one piece.
If you’re going to visit the Great Wall of China, make sure you go to the right bit (be careful: it’s quite long.) The Mutianyu section, for example, has been restored and is open to visitors – at between seven and eight metres high, and five metres wide, it’s a pretty impressive bit of wall. Other sections are not in such good condition; the earliest parts of the wall were constructed from earth and wood and many of these have not been maintained. Perhaps this is understandable – historical artefact or not, nobody wants the job of repairing an old lump of wall, made of mud, that’s over 5000 miles away.
Fresh Kills | USA
Officially the world’s largest man-made structure, Fresh Kills is a dump. I don’t mean that to sound disrespectful – it’s a landfill site in New York. It opened in 1947 and, by 2001, the pile of rubbish was 25 metres higher than the Statue of Liberty. To those arriving in the USA by sea, this must’ve provided a very different (but no less informative) first impression of the country.
I’d advise against a visit to Fresh Kills. Even if you’re the sort of person who wants to go on holiday to the world’s biggest rubbish tip, the site’s now closed so it would be a wasted journey. It’s currently being turned into a public park and wildlife refuge, so if you’re determined to go there then that’s what you’ll see instead. The Fresh Kills Park isn’t going to be safe to humans for another 30 years though, so don’t book the flights just yet.
Spring Temple Buddha | China
They may have questionable wall-building skills, but there can be no doubt that the Chinese are good at statues. The Spring Temple Buddha is the largest statue in the world – at 153 metres it’s three times the height of Nelson’s Column (and that’s almost all column with just a little man balanced on top.)
Surprisingly, the three tallest statues in the world are all Buddha – a good result for a deity who’s more often depicted as being short and fat.
Mir mine | Russia
I don’t know if a hole dug into the ground can count as a man-made structure, but the Mir mine in Siberia is no ordinary hole. It’s over a kilometre wide and half a kilometre deep – so big that it has been known to suck helicopters right out of the sky. The Russians were pulling diamonds from this chasm for over fifty years and, at its peak, the mine was producing 10,000,000 carats every single year (which really puts that engagement ring you saved for into perspective.)
Hoover Dam | USA
Most dams are built by our flat-tailed, big-toothed friends the beavers; but how many of these dams can provide Nevada with electricity? Not many, I’ll bet. Hoover Dam, however, is far more than just a big dollop of concrete; it generates environmentally-friendly electricity for over a million people, enough to pay for all its construction and running costs. It’s an impressive achievement and one that’s worth seeing.
No matter which big thing you decide to visit, don’t forget to arrange your travel insurance before you go.