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Public-images-osm logo.svg barrier = retaining_wall
Retaining wall.png
A structure that holds back soil or rock from a building, structure or area. Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
Rendering in OSM Carto
Barrier fence mapnik.png
Group: barriers
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysshould not be used on areasshould not be used on relations (except multipolygon relations)
Status: approvedPage for proposal

A  retaining wall is a structure that holds back soil or rock from a building, structure or area. Retaining walls prevent downslope movement or erosion and provide support for vertical or near-vertical grade changes.

Also consider man_made=embankment for a raised bank to carry a road, railway, or the like.

Also consider one-sided cutting=*s if it lines a highway and isn't a man-made wall. They're more flexible (but slightly less accurate) if you're refining an established way which already has other aspects that rely on its direction, such as already being oneway=yes or cycleway:left=lane, that would need to change to incorporate barrier=retaining_wall's "right side is bottom, left side is top" convention.

How to map

Way direction.png

barrier=retaining_wall behaves same as natural=cliff, that is no crossing as left-right are different heights. Lower side on right side of way direction, often rendered with dots, triangles or the like.

Renderers and editors might indicate the lower side of the retaining wall (the right side of the OSM way) with small triangles pointing downwards.

Other tags commonly used with barrier=retaining_wall:

  • height=*, the height of the wall
  • material=*, of what the wall is made


47°48′45.36″ N, 8°10′44.47″ E
Browse object way 413183895 on map.