The medieval era, also called the Middle Ages, is the period of about 1000 years between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Renaissance in Europe. The end of this period, which stood out mainly for its Gothic culture and architecture, occurred more than 500 years ago.
For this reason, it is even more impressive that entire cities from that historic time have survived to the present day. Find out below some of these cities that can be visited today and that are true living museums.
1 – Carcassonne, France
The huge walls of the fortress of Carcassonne are about 3 kilometers long, with 52 towers strategically placed along their entire length. This structure was made as a fortress to protect the city from attacks in the medieval era.
Many years after the medieval fortress was demilitarized by Napoleon Bonaparte during the Restoration, it had deteriorated to such an extent that in 1849 the French government decided that it should be demolished, but the population was against the idea and the site was then restored, having was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1997.
2 – Monsanto, Portugal
The picturesque village of Monsanto is truly a city-shaped museum, preserved on the mountainside. In addition to its medieval architecture, Monsanto stands out for the infinity of giant stones that define its landscape, which are incorporated into the structures of its buildings. As a result, some houses appear to be trapped among the huge stones.
3 – Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Europe. And thanks to the fact that it was not badly damaged by the events of the First and Second World War, it is generally considered the best preserved medieval city in Europe. Beautiful Gothic architecture is a hallmark throughout the city. As declared by UNESCO, the historic center of Prague stands out as “a supreme manifestation of medieval urbanism”.
4 – Toledo, Spain
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, Toledo is known as the “City of Three Cultures”, thanks to the influences of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities that have lived there throughout history. In the city there are winding cobbled streets and an extensive list of historical monuments, in addition to other cultural and natural riches.
5 – Bruges, Belgium
Also known as “Venice of the North”, Bruges is considered one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. Thanks to its intact medieval architecture and its Gothic urban landscape, in 2000 the historic city center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And after a period of revitalization during the second half of the 19th century, it became an important European tourist destination.
6 – Citta di San Marino, Italy
Citta di San Marino is majestically located at the top of Monte Titano, which is the highest point in the country. The city still exists today, remarkably preserved and relatively untouched in its medieval state. Partly for that reason, the Historic Center of San Marino on Monte Titano is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List.