Europe

5 Great Walled Cities of Europe

Remains of the ancient times and an evidence of the long and defensive history of a human settlement, the cities with walls are nowadays cities that breathe history. Europe has some of the best conserved pieces of this kind of architecture.

1. Carcassonne, France

Restored by Viollet-le-Duc, the name of this wonderful city has meanings both in French (translated as carcass sound) and Latin (coming from carcas sona, meaning ringing the bells). The city is built on the top of a hill and looks like a fairy tale town. In the past, its location was of a great strategic interest, therefore Carcassonne was fortified by Gauls, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Franks. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage site attracts more than 3 million tourists every year.

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2. San Gimignano, Italy

Located in Tuscany, the province of Italy where every single town is special, this town is really one of a kind. Initially a resting point for the pilgrims on their way to the Vatican, the residents of San Gimignano were some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the Medieval times. The alliance with Florence was edified throughout 72 towers, of which today, just 14 survived.

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3. Bruges, Belgium

The first fortifications were built here in the times of Julius Caesar, but the ones you can see nowadays were erected during the 12th century, when Bruges received its city charter. Becoming one of the main trading centers in this part of Europe, Bruges needed adequate protection. Due to its rapid expansion, a new circuit of walls needed to be built in the 14th century and 16th century, as well.

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4. York, England

Known by the English today as the “City of Festivals”, this relatively small city, is known in history as “England’s second city”. It hosts the largest cathedral in Northern Europe – the York Minster and it represents a landmark in the island’s history. The main walls were erected by William the Conqueror, an important character during the English civil war.

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5. Avila, Spain

The highest provincial capital of Spain, Avila is build on the top of a rocky hill, at 1117 meters above sea level. The city is most known for the walls, constructed of brown granite in 1090, measuring 2.5 km in length, with 88 towers and 9 gateways. Besides the walls and being a part of this structure, you can see the main cathedral, that has the appearance of a fairy tale castle.

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Image credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

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