The Most Visible Man-Made Structure From Space Is In Spain

Myth-Busted: Great Wall Of China

Image of the Earth. Credit: sdecoret/

FOR years the public accepted that viewed from space, the Earth’s most visible human structure was the Great Wall of China, but there is a new challenger from Spain.

Could the Great Wall of China’s visibility from space be just a myth? Contrary to popular belief, it is Spain’s ‘Sea of Plastic’ in Almeria that stands as the most discernible human construction when viewed from the cosmos, according to 20 Minutos.

In a statement, former Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque confirmed that the ‘Sea of Plastic’, not the Great Wall, is the most visible structure from space. This revelation was made during his space missions, contrasting with the long-held notion that China’s Great Wall holds this unique distinction.

The Invisible Wall And The Visible Sea

The Great Wall of China stretches over 6,000 km, with its original length estimated at 8,851.8 km. However, its maximum width of seven meters renders it nearly invisible from space. Its construction materials blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape, further obscuring it from view.

Conversely, the ‘Sea of Plastic‘ in southern Almeria is a vast expanse of greenhouse fields. Covering tens of thousands of hectares, these fields are sheathed in plastic for agricultural production. The plastic’s high reflectivity and the area’s vast size make it distinctly visible from space, as noted by Pedro Duque.

Other Global Landmarks Seen From Above

Several other man-made structures are also visible from space, though to a lesser extent than Spain’s ‘Sea of Plastic’.

  • The Aerium in Germany, originally an aircraft hangar, now hosts a water park. Its impressive size of 360 meters in length and 210 meters in width marks it as one of the world’s largest buildings volume-wise.
  • Saudi Arabia’s Masjid al-Haram Grand Mosque, the largest temple and most significant mosque in Islam, is identifiable from space. Its white colour and diameter exceeding 500 meters add to its visibility.
  • The Artificial Islands in the United Arab Emirates, situated off Dubai’s coast, stand out due to their unique designs. These islands are not natural formations but are instead constructed for residential, commercial, and hospitality purposes.
  • Lastly, the Bingham Copper Mine in the United States, near Salt Lake City, is notable for its depth of nearly 1000 meters and a diameter over 4 km. It’s the largest copper mine globally, distinguishable from space due to its immense size.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.