Top 10 Ancient Towns and Villages

Top 10 Ancient Towns and Villages

It seems that small towns and villages offer the best destination for the day trippers. However, some of them are ancient and boast a vast historic heritage. Sometimes a day can be not enough to fully discover the town. We have chosen ten historic settlements this time all around the world that have caught our attention.

10. Piodao, Portugal

Situated in the center of the country, Piodao is known as one of the most picturesque villages in Portugal. Classified as a Public Interest Monument, Piodao is indeed a unique site. Its signature feature is historic architecture, covered with schist and ascending in the mountainous landscape. The reclusive settlement is slightly different than the rest of the country.

Why go there? The village was established centuries ago and affected by a variety of cultural influences. Tourists are welcome here by the friendly locals, who are proud of their beautiful Medieval town.

Top Ancient Towns-Piodao

Photo by Unknown

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Photo by Unknown

Top Ancient Towns-Piodao-Photo by Paulo Dias

Photo by Paulo Dias

9. Civita di Bagnoregio, Province of Viterbo, Italy

Initially, Civita was the first settlement established by Etruscans over 2 500 years ago, whereas Bagnoregio was its suburb. Only recently tourists rediscovered the sister towns, that mesmerise with impressive nature and panoramic views, as well as historic architecture, balancing on a fragile cliff. Its several hundred years old architecture denotes versatile history, but also needs a preservation plan: the city is included in the list of 100 Most Endangered Sites.

Why go there? The ancient city is founded on a volcanic plateau above the Tiber river valley. Tourists are welcome by the few friendly locals, whose number quickly decreases.

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Photo by Unknown

Top Ancient Towns-Civita-Photo by Marco Chiesi

Photo by Marco Chiesi

8. Alberobello, Puglia, Italy

A small town in a „heel“ of the country is famous for the authentic and unique trulli – a hut with a cone-shaped roof. They are very well preserved and included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The purpose of trulli was to avoid taxes: since it was possible to quickly dismantle the houses, the settlement didn’t have a status of a town, thus wasn’t entitled to pay taxes. Today this is the main attraction, as visitors come to wander the narrow streets and admire the original architecture.

Why go there? Various shops and museums welcome tourists to enter the conical huts. But the most desirable thing is a stay at a trulli hotel, which enables to experience the spirit of this historical town.

Top Ancient Towns-Alberobello

Photo by Unknown

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Photo by Unknown

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Photo by Unknown

7. Songzanlin, Shangri-La, China

Songzanlin, the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery situated in Yunnan, is one of the most famous and beautiful temples in China. Built in 1679 the monastery’s complex makes an entire little historic town. Tibetan architecture, design and elements, well-preserved frescoes and golden statues of Buddha make it an attractive tourist destination. Like all the Buddhist monasteries, at the elevation of 3380 m (11090 ft), Songzanlin is surrounded with stunning nature.

Why go there? Various festivals take place here. On 29th of November, people gather here to watch the monks perform dances with the masks. In June „Horse Racing Festival“ takes over and entertains with food, dancing, singing, fur and silk trading. In September during the „Minority Festival“ artists come here to present their craft.

Top Ancient Towns-Songzanlin-Photo by FaceChoo Yong

Photo by FaceChoo Yong

Top Ancient Towns-Songzanlin-Photo by Rungthum Lee

Photo by Rungthum Lee

Top Ancient Towns-Songzanlin-Photo by 林 鹏程

Photo by 林 鹏程

6. Trakai Island, Lithuania

The historic Gothic Palace was built by Lithuanian dukes in XIV century and served as their residence since the city was a capital at the time. It is the only island castle in Eastern Europe. Today the Palace is open for the tourists. The museum has a wide display of Medieval exhibits. Many concerts and various events are organised in this gorgeous place. The Knight Competition attracts many local enthusiasts and from abroad.

Why go there? Many water activities are possible in the lake. From water cycling, boating to yachting. A lot of cozy restaurants are found in the city, that serve national Tatar dishes since it is the historical habitat for this ethnic group.

Trakai castle, Lithuania Trakai castle, Lithuania Trakai castle, Lithuania

5. Bergamo, Italy

The town, located near Milan, is spread across a hill and the Alps begin right of the town. Found by a Celtic tribe, Bergamo became a part of Roman Empire in 49 BC. Once an important duchy, it became the most industrialized Italian city in the 20th century. Bergamo managed to avoid the destruction during World War II and preserved its architectural heritage. Like the Caravaggio sanctuary or beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, which is also a birthplace of the prominent Bergamo’s music tradition.

Since the town is located on the top of the hill, the slopes are planted with various plants. Bergamot’s – a fragrant fruit’s – name is evolved from here. The amazing terraced gardens drop down from the top and bloom in various colors – a real treat for your eyes. However, Bergamo is said to be equally beautiful in winter too, although it might get rainy.

Why go there? The small town in Lombardy has a wide range of beauty to offer to the visitors: from cultural heritage and historic architecture to cultural events and amazing nature, which flourishes from an early spring.

Top Ancient Towns-Bergamo-Photo by Nicola Scuri

Photo by Nicola Scuri

Top Ancient Towns-Bergamo-Photo by Mauro Tandoi

Photo by Mauro Tandoi

Top Ancient Towns-Bergamo-Photo by Andreas Steegmann

Photo by Andreas Steegmann

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Photo by Unknown

Top Ancient Towns-Bergamo-Photo by Roberto Pagani

Photo by Roberto Pagani

4. Ronda, Málaga, Spain

The historic city is founded on the high mountains, 750 m above sea level. It attracts and fascinates visitors from all around the world. The river of Guadalevín runs through the city and divides it into two parts. The water during centuries has carved a 100 m deep canyon El Tajo. Many architectures from Neoclassical style has been preserved in Ronda. Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles had the residencies and spent their summers here.

Why go there? Besides being one of the most unique and picturesque historic towns in Spain, it also features the rock paintings of Cueva de la Pileta – the Neolithic Age art.

Ronda, Spain

Ronda, Spain © Shutterstock, Inc.

The Puente Nuevo New Bridge over Guadalevin River in Ronda

© K. Roy Zerloch /

View of old town on Tajo Gorge in Ronda. Andalusia, Spain

View of old town on Tajo Gorge in Ronda. Andalusia, Spain © Shutterstock, Inc.

3. Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

The former capital of a kingdom, Jodhpur today is one of the biggest and most populated cities in Rajasthan. It is also the favourite tourist destination for its many castles, temples, forts, museums and its picturesque bluish houses. Situated in the Thar desert Jodhpur was featured in such films like The Dark Knight Rises and The Fall due to its architecture and landscapes.

Why go there? Tourists also love discovering the spice markets, fabrics and handcrafts in this historic city.

Top Ancient Towns-Jodhpur

Photo by Unknown

Top Ancient Towns-Jodhpur-Photo by Christian Biemann

Photo by Christian Biemann

Top Ancient Towns-Jodhpur-Photo by Antuan Herranz

Photo by Antuan Herranz

Top Ancient Towns-Jodhpur-Photo by Sudharshun Gopalan

Photo by Sudharshun Gopalan

2. Marburg, Germany

Being a university town, Marburg has always been a cultural center of Europe. Gothic and Renaissance architecture dominates the unspoilt city: churches, cathedrals, university complex, the web of narrow Medieval streets are crowned by a gorgeous castle.

Why go there? The famous Old Town of Marburg has one of the oldest pedestrian zones in Germany. It has always been and remains to be a popular attraction among students, scientists and tourists.

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Photo by Unknown

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Photo by Unknown

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Photo by Unknown

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Photo by Unknown

1. Fenghuang (Phoenix Ancient Town), Hunan Province, China

Phoenix Ancient Town is situated in Hunan Province, which is famous for its glorious nature and unique Tianmen mountains. The historic town has rich culture: from a few ethnic languages and customs to arts and architecture. The Ming and Qing style buildings are very well preserved and protected by UNESCO.

Why go there? Fenghuang is often regarded as the most beautiful town in China for a good reason: surrounded with wonderful nature, having historic architecture it is a popular tourist attraction.

Top Ancient Towns-Phoenix-Photo by Edwin Leung

Photo by Edwin Leung

Top Ancient Towns-Phoenix-Photo by Edwin Leung2

Photo by Edwin Leung

Top Ancient Towns-Phoenix-Photo by LostFaith

Photo by LostFaith

Top Ancient Towns-Phoenix-Photo by Vincent Wong

Photo by Vincent Wong