Walled European cities have a romantic allure to them but if you think about it, there is nothing romantic about the reason the walls were needed in the first place.
These beautiful walls were erected as a defense from invaders. They were used to squash and kill anyone trying to take over the town. Literally, thousands have been killed at the base of the fortified walls, which were also used to regulate people and goods going in and out of the city.
Despite all of this, I am drawn to medieval walled cities. Below are 6 walled cities in Europe that I would love spending time in wandering through their streets listening as the wind tells their story.
Europe’s largest medieval fortress is Carcassonne. Located in southwestern France, near the foot of the Pyrenees, Carcassonne rises above the lovely vineyards in the valley below. The mighty walls were first erected by the Romans during the 1st century but the elements have taken their toll making it necessary to restore these walls to their magnificent beginnings. Make sure you spend some time strolling through the impressive gates and cobblestoned streets stopping by the pleasing shops and restaurants.
To say that Dubrovnik is a beautiful city is truly an understatement. This walled city at the southern end of Croatia sits like the beautiful star it is overlooking the Adriatic. Heralded as the most beautiful spot in the Mediterranean, Croatia is filled with streets that are lined with Baroque buildings and is steeped in architectural wonders. The Old Town of this stunning city is home to many churches, monasteries and fountains. Make sure to leave time to enjoy views of the Adriatic by walking along the city’s intact walls.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany
Rothenburg holds a very special place in my heart. During my first ever trip to Germany I visited Rothenburg and fell in love with this amazingly quaint village. Yes it is touristy but it is worth every minute you will spend here. Walking down cobblestoned streets you will be greeted by old houses, towers and gateways that have all withstood the test of time. At every corner you come face to face with the history this town has seen. Be sure to enjoy walking the city walls, which almost circle the town, and from which you can get amazing views of the Tauber valley below.
York welcomes those that love history. This magical city hold much English history as it was the 2nd most important city in all of England at one point in history. This historic town is surrounded by a 700 year old wall. The grand cathedral of York, The Minster, looms above the city. This gothic structure took over 250 years to complete and contains many stained glass windows along with the flying buttresses. There is much to do in York but don’t forget to spend time wandering her narrow cobblestoned streets gazing at the timbered buildings.
Two thousand year old Bruges is known as the Venice of the north due to the many canals gracing the city. At one point in history, Bruges was the most important commercial city in Europe. Walking the streets of Bruges is a great way to soak up the history that greets you at every turn. Explore inside the city walls to see the churches, castle, romantic canals, chocolate shops, colorful homes and museums. You can even visit the Diamond museum or the French fry museum!
As you approach Avila you will be treated to a very stimulating sight. From a distance, you can see the 11th century fortress standing as it must have yesterday. This is the oldest fortification in all of Spain and home to a gothic cathedral and striking 15th century houses. The most fun is spending time strolling the old town with its cobblestone streets and abundance of plazas. Don’t forget to look for the storks that make their home under the rooftops of the city.