Do you like medieval times? Do you want to relive it knowing the most outstanding medieval towns in Europe? In this new entry of The Happy Traveler, we present to you the villages and towns that seem to have stopped at that time. Then, You will discover towns full of narrow streets, walls, castles and lost paradises where history can be touched and felt. Don’t miss them!
Table of Contents
- The 10 most beautiful medieval towns in Europe
- 1. Carcassonne, France
- 2. Besalu, Spain
- 3. San Gimignano, Italy
- 4. Cochem, Germany
- 5. Castle Combe, England
- 6. Fredrikstad, Norway
- 7. Guimaraes, Portugal
- 8. Piran, Slovenia
- 9. Santillana del Mar, Spain
- 10. Hallstatt, Austria
The 10 most beautiful medieval towns in Europe
1. Carcassonne, France
Just one visit to the Carcassonne district is enough to praise the decision to declare it a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Led by its great wall, imposing as all the history that it houses inside, it is one of the most beautiful towns in France. It offers a large Count’s Castle, accompanied by the Saint-Nazaire Basilica, the Saint-Michel Cathedral, the Midi canal, the Marie-et-Pierre-Sire garden. Each of these sites represent an important part of the culture of Carcassonne, and even contain important elements of France. However, what is most impressive is as it has managed to maintain despite the passage of time, preserving its original medieval essence of many centuries ago.
2. Besalu, Spain
Right where Alt Ampurdán, Pla de l’Estany and La Garrocha intertwine, Besalú stands out, one of the most outstanding medieval towns in Europe and in Catalonia. It is a Catalan location whose name originated from Bisuldunum, a pleasant memory of the fortress located between two bodies of water: the Fluviá river and the Capellades river. For this reason, one of the things to do in Besalú is to cross its bridge and walk through its Jewish quarter to return to the past as if you were going through the doors of the Monastery of San Pere.
It is considered one of the most influential medieval aggregates in Catalonia. The small town has managed to remain with the same essence throughout the generations, standing out for the magical corners of its narrow streets and squares full of life. Without a doubt, a special and wonderful place where you can travel back in time and forget about everything.
3. San Gimignano, Italy
It is the town with the most medieval appearance in Italy. Between Siena and Florence, this small town in Tuscany is located, which helped in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, being the station point for Catholic pilgrims on their way to Rome and the Vatican. What most attracts the attention of this town are its stone towers.
It is also known as the Italian Manhattan, Well, San Gimignano is one of the best medieval towns in Europe. It stands out for its historic quarter, declared a World Heritage Site, accompanied by 14 towers that have been maintained throughout history. Due to its traditional style, this small town in Tuscany is the main attraction visited by tourists from all over the world, who want to be fascinated by its beautiful streets and corners full of magic.
4. Cochem, Germany
This medieval town is located in Germany and is one of the enclaves with enough power to captivate you and leave you practically stupid. Its remarkable monument is the castle, called Reichsburg Fortress, located on top of a hill. Cochem wants you to lose yourself among its small alleys and rest in one of its houses built with slate roofs. Let yourself be carried away by medieval magic in one of the most beautiful towns in Germany.
5. Castle Combe, England
Many who have visited Castle Combe, in England, They conclude that it is the most beautiful town in the country. Each inhabitant strives to carefully preserve its streets, fill its corners with culture and dazzle with its honey-colored stone houses. The icing on the cake is its medieval-style church, which gives many reasons for the town to be one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Europe.
The most symbolic thing is that it is really a very small town, where it only has one street. This, in particular, makes it highly attractive to tourists who want unique experiences. It has only 350 inhabitants, which was enough for it to obtain second place in the list of the best towns, according to The Times.
6. Fredrikstad, Norway
Fredrikstad stands out for being the only enclave in Norway that still retains all its walls. The vast majority agree that it is the town with the most medieval style in the entire country. Likewise, it also has other outstanding sites, such as its moat, a huge defensive hole that currently still contains water, which gives the town a star shape. On the other hand, its 350 inhabitants boast of having the best-maintained fortress in Scandinavia.
7. Guimaraes, Portugal
Guimarães is the place where Portugal was born. All its corners turn the experience of each visitor into a magical tale where history is seen everywhere. It has a very small and highly accessible historic center, so one day will suffice to discover all its attractions. For that reason, it is one of the most visited medieval towns in Europe.
Many stories tell that Guimarães was baptized as Vimaranes in its beginnings. At that time, it was founded by Don Vimara Pérez, a nobleman who served the Asturian king Alfonso III. Whether the anecdote is true or not, no one can say that its inhabitants have not preserved their historical heritage over time. Its 15th century Manor House is fascinating, displaying prominent influences from the stately architecture of Northern Europe. But, the truth is that it is one of the best towns in Portugal.
8. Piran, Slovenia
A huge wall enclosing a large number of religious buildings give the medieval style to a town whose name comes from the Greek Pyr. It means fire and honors the bonfires that were lit in the past in the lighthouses to prevent ships from running aground in the town. It is one of the most beautiful places in Europe, where the most prominent place is Tartini Square. That is Piran, located in Slovenia.
9. Santillana del Mar, Spain
Santillana del Mar is popular for being named the town of the three lies, since it is not holy, nor is it flat, much less has the sea. However, it is a feature that is forgotten after appreciating its stone streets full of cobblestones, where they all lead to the Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana. The latter is the most visited site in one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Europe. In each corner you can admire a large house, or if not, a palace or a church of incredible architecture. Even a watering hole where it is very common to see cows quenching their thirst.
10. Hallstatt, Austria
No doubt Hallstatt is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Europe, located in Austria.. How not? If it is a town that rests on the sidewalk of a lake and that is surrounded by the mountains of the Salzkammergut district. It also highlights its incredible main square composed of a facade of vines and flowers, which leaves a true spectacle to behold. At present, buildings from the late medieval period are still preserved, which are accompanied by its attractive streets and incredible views offered by the lake.
What do you think of the best medieval towns in Europe? The visit of these towns leaves more than one speechless, especially due to the traditional atmosphere that it still possesses, as if it were from bygone eras. Therefore, visiting any of these points should be a priority on your way through Europe. Leave us in the comments if you know of another town that we should add!