In today’s world of high-rises and modern architecture, there are still medieval-looking towns that give you that storybook feeling. Some of them feature
10. Saint Paul de Vence, France
Saint Paul de Vence, located in southeast France, is one of the oldest medieval cities that you’ll find on the French Riviera. Decorative cobblestones line the streets and the home’s aged stone walls give you a glimpse of the past. Ancient city walls and protective cannons still in place give it even more of that Old World charm. Art lovers will enjoy the Foundation Maeght museum among others. The beauty’s so great that artists and entertainers like Jacques Raverat, Marc Chagall, and many other lived there. It’s where American writer James Baldwin and many other famous names died.
9. Ghardaïa, Algeria
Ghardaïa, the capital of Algeria’s Ghardaïa province, still has plenty of preserved medieval architecture. The Kharijite Muslims established the town in the 11th century as they sought to distance themselves from persecution from Orthodox Muslims in the north. The fortified town was built into three walled areas with the M’zabite area and its pyramid-style mosque in the center. Architectural highlights include white, red and pink houses made of clay, gypsum, and sand. Ghardaïa is located in the Sahara Desert in north-central Algeria.
8. Ávila, Spain
Ávila, known as the Town of Stories and Saints, is the capital of the Spanish province of Ávila. Its full name is Ávila de Los Caballeros, or Ávila of the Noblemen, because of the wealthy inhabitants and more than 100 mansions once found in the town. Some believe Ávila used to be the ancient town of Abula, one of the first cities in Hispania to be Christianized.
The town’s medieval beauty includes its brown granite walls built in 1090 with 88 towers and nine gateways still in excellent condition. There is also a fortress-looking Gothic cathedral with sculptures and paintings inside. It is known as one of the towns with the most Romanesque and Gothic churches per capita in Spain.
7. Cochem, Germany
Cochem is located on the Mosel River in Rhineland-Palatinate. Its architecture including its black and tan guild houses, winding streets and cottages give it that medieval flair. There’s also Cochem Imperial Castle, a Gothic tower that was damaged by the French but has some sections dating to the 1100s. Germany’s first king, King Conrad III, had stayed in the castle in 1151. Now tourists can stay to enjoy ghost tours and a medieval feast. There’s also nearby Berg Eltz, a castle dating back to the 1100s that even has a stone bridge. This storybook town is one of the cities that still look medieval that tourists love.
6. Pingyao, China
The financial center of China during the 14th century, the town of Ping Yao is still majestic looking with its ancient walls and dotted with narrow medieval streets, ancient walls, temples, and shops. It’s a good example of Han Chinese cities founded in the 14th century. Its massive buildings once used for banking can still be seen while its thousands of shops and dwellings showcase the economic success of the past. Highlights include more than 2,000 painted sculptures made during the Ming and Qing dynasties and its Shuanglin and Zhenguo temples.
5. Colmar, France
Colmar, another French town that is among cities that still look medieval, is especially known among wine aficionados. It’s known as the capital of Alsatian wine, a designation going back to its start as a rural community of wine producers. It’s located in the Alsace region, known as the Route du Vin or Wine Road. Its wine, especially its Horbourg-Wihr port, was distributed throughout Europe during the Middle Ages.
It’s not all about the wine. Tourists are drawn to old World charm with its half-timber houses and weeping willow trees along canals on the Lauch River. They can row a boat in Little Venice and tour buildings dating back to the 1500s and 1600s. The Oeuvre Notre-Dame Art Museum features sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages.
4. Trakai, Lithuania
The historic city of Trakai is a popular lake resort community in Lithuania. The town was founded in 1337 and once was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It’s surrounded by five lakes and features many architectural, cultural and historical monuments including Trakai Historic National Park, the only historical national park in Europe. Trakai Castle is the only Gothic water castle in Lithuania.
3. York, England
The historic walled city of York, located where the use and Foss rivers in North Yorkshire, England, meet, is among the cities that still look medieval. Romans founded the city as Eboracum in 71 AD. It became a wool trading center during the Middle Ages then, in the 19th century, became a confectionery manufacturing center.
Roman Emperor Constantius Chlorus ordered workers to build the city’s three-mile long wall that was later reinforced during the Middle Aces. Snickelways, alley-sized streets that feature homes dating from the 1300s and 1400s, are among its most predominant features. Among them is Shambles Street, which inspired Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books and movies.
2. Rothenburg, Germany
Rothenburg, one of the most picturesque cities that still look medieval, is located in the Franconia region of Bavaria, German. Tourists flock here to see the preserved medieval town founded in the 1100s. The royal family of Hohenstaufen established the Stauffer-Castle Rothenburg in 1142, and King Conrad III chose it as his home in the kingdom. Rothenburg was one of the 10 largest towns of the Holy Roman Empire in 1300. The city’s cobblestone streets, narrow passageways, city gates and wall and colorful half-timber homes give it a unique medieval look that thrills visitors.
1. Prague, Czech Republic
Travel back through the ages and experience Prague, perhaps the best preserved medieval city found in the world. Highlights include the Prague Castle, built in the 9th century. The castle, which remains one of the world’s largest complexes, housed rulers and presidents. There’s also Charles Bridge, Prague’s oldest bridge, built in 1357 to replace a bridge badly damaged by floods. Thirty statues of saints built between 1683 and 1928 can be seen along the bridge, which also features the Lesser Town Bridge Towers and the Old Town Bridge Tower. Something out of the ordinary, Prague also has a medieval torture device museum.