The Most Well-Preserved Medieval Cities In Europe

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The Medieval Times was a period in the history of Europe that lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It saw the cultural and intellectual changes of the Renaissance and the territorial expansion of the Age of Discovery. The era also saw the emergence of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Luckily, some cities have been able to preserve some of the fascinating history and breathtaking buildings, from this time period. You will truly feel like you have traveled back in time in these well-preserved European medieval cities.

Mont Saint-Michel

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Mont Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France. Once a strategic fortification for French monasteries, the island continues to exude its feudal heritage. At the highest point of the islands lies Saint-Michel abbey and monastery (represents god), just below are the great halls, followed by stores and housing, at the very bottom outside the walls are the homes of fisherman and farmers.

San Gimignano, Italy

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The Tuscan city of San Gimignano was once a stopping point for Catholic pilgrims on their way to Rome. This small hill town was known for its agriculture products such as saffron. Also known as the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano boasts the preservation of a dozen medieval tower houses. Many of the churches are also in their original state with frescos dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Today, San Gimignano is still known for its agricultural products including saffron, Golden Ham, and its white wine (Vernaccia di San Gimignano).

Carcassonne, France

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Carcassone, France exudes the medieval feeling of land expansion and control. As you approach the fortified city, you can observe the 50 watchtowers that once guarded the city. Carcassone was once a strategic location for monopolizing on trade as it connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. The most prominent building of the city is the fortress that was restored by theorist and architect Eugene Viollet-le-duc in 1853.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

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Rothenburg ob der Tauber was a free imperial city during the Middle ages, meaning it enjoyed some sense of autonomy and only had to obey the Holy Roman Emperor, rather than a territorial monarch. Its name translates to “Red fortress above the Tauber” as it is located above the Tauber River and describes the multiple traditional red roofs of the homes. With history dating back to 950, its medieval influence is still prevalent today.


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