9 Most Impressive Walled Cities That You Can Visit In The World

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Entrance to Manila’s Intramuros, a historic walled city in the Philippines. Meaning “within walls” in Spanish, it refers to the fortified city along the Pasig River founded by the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in 1571.

Ever since the 10th B.C. people have been building walls around their settlements for defensive purposes against invasion from enemies. As centuries passed by, most of the ancient walls have crumbled, those that remained not only protect the residents living inside the fortresses but have become the most impressive walled cities of today capturing the hearts of many travelers around the world.

From the four corners of the globe, in kingdoms far and wide, these massive structures were common sights in ancient times. But in this day and age, they had become obsolete and no longer used as protective system against marauders but preserved as remembrance of the past. Let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful walled cities that you can visit in the world.

Monteriggioni, Italy

Monteriggioni is a beautiful walled town atop a hill in Tuscany, Italy that has successfully conquered the hearts of visitors, both local and international.

It is a superbly preserved Medieval village near Home to majestic stone walls that enclosed Monteriggioni, there are also 14 towers along this fortification that were used for surveillance purposes against advancing enemies. These days, this anciient town stands as an attestation to Medieval engineering, attracting visitors for an unusual glimpse into Italy’s glorious past.

Main piazza or plaza in Monteriggiono.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia’s most photographed city and a prime tourist destination, the “Pearl of the Adriatic Sea” is famous for its intact defensive wall, elevated forts, red-tiled rooftops and steep cobblestone streets.

Along the gorgeous shorelines of the Atlantic Ocean and the Adriatic Sea lies Croatia’s capital Dubrovnik, one of the most picturesque cities in Europe and well known for its imposing 14th century defensive walls. This perfectly preserved Medieval city started as an independent maritime trading republic for 700 years and its walls were constructed between the 14th to 15th centuries to protect this wealthy city from pirates and other unwelcomed visitors especially the Republic of Venice which was a threat to Dubrovnik’s safety.

Several empires occupied Croatia in the ensuing centuries and in December 1918, it became a part of the Socialist Republic of Yoguslavia until 1991. And the Walls of Dubrovnik played an important role in Croatia’s independence, although Yugoslav troops shelled the city with bomb attacks, the walls served their purpose of why they were designed so massive. Although the aggressors invaded Croatia but only for 8 months and in May 1992, Yugoslav soldiers withdrew that signalled Croatia’s freedom.

Restoration works of the walls started in the late 1990s to early 2000s and Croatia, particularly Dubrovnik re-emerged as a famous tourist magnet where UNESCO has listed the city as a World Heritage Site. It is also a favorite filming location site for many movies, most especially the Game of Thrones in HBO.

The main street of the Old Town in Dubrovnik.

Cartagena, Colombia

Right at the heart of Cartagena, Colombia are its walls built a long time ago to inculcate fear in enemies and keep them out of sight. Today these walls stand as a symbol that lure tourists to enter a beautiful city packed with history.

The walls of Cartagena- its a 409-year old fortification in Colombia and one of the most major tourist atractions of the city of Cartagena. Built by King Felipe III of Spain in 1614 and finished in 1796 for the purpose of defending the city from incessant pirate attacks that it had suffered.

The most preserved and complete rampart found in South America, Cartagena Walls were silent witness of many wars and struggles including the rise of the city of Cartagena as “La Heroica”. This is a title given for the city’s heroic resistance to the 105-day duration by Spanish forces’ attack in 1815.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Walls of Cartagena, which were constructed to keep pillagers away in centuries gone by are now luring visitors to enter its gates and explore this beautiful Colombian city with its very distinct character and history.

Cartagena city center.

Avila, Spain

The little town of Avila, northwest of Madrid is a unique and historic place known for its extremely well-preserved walls and the birthplace of St. Teresa.

The capital of Castille-Leon region in Spain and located 1,117 meters above sea level, the entire town of Avila is a World Heritage Site. One of the greatest remainders of Medieval Europe, this walled city was considered sacred to the ancient CeltThe city of Avila was besieged by Arab moors in 714 A.D., then reclaimed by Christians in 1088 and the protective walls were built in the 12th century. At 8,202 feet high and encircling the whole town, the enormous walls are accentuated by 90 steadily fortified granite stone towers.

At the present time, Avila recieves millions of visitors a year to view its Medieval-style attractions but in the Middle Ages, people flock to the area for its church where St. Teresa of Avila used to pray, her house located near Catedral de Cristo Salvador (Cathedral of the Saviour).

Pilgrims to St. Teresa of Avila inside the walls in Avila, Spain.

Mdina, Malta

“City surrounded by walls” – Mdina is situated on a hill in the center of the island and as early as the Bronze Age, this city was already encircled by fortification for defence purposes.

It has been the capital of Malta before the arrival of the knights in 1530 earning its moniker as Citta Nobile (Noble City). The knights or Order of St. John was a military order that occupied Malta whose purpose was the defend the Holy Land and provided care for the injured pilgrims from Israel. Going back to Mdina, it was called Citta Nobile for being the home of nobles and still is, their descendants choosed to stay in the city.

Mdina is as old as it gets, it is said that the Phoenicians founded the city during the Bronze Age in 700 B.C. and started building the walls calling the place Maleth. When the Romans came in 8th B.C. they renamed the place into Melite before adopting its modern name Mdina from the Arabic term Mediner.

A must-see for travelers who love ancient architecture, Mdina welcomes at least 800,000 travelers a year to enjoy the beauty of this classical city.

Old town, Mdina.

Talinn, Estonia

The Walls of Talinn or Margaret Wall are defensive walls built around the city in 1265 to protect it from invaders.

It is one of Europe’s most preserved walls built in the Middle Ages – the Some of the towers along the walls served as warehouses and prisons during those times. At the present times, several sections of Talinn’s city walls have been restored for travelers to visit, while the towers have been converted into museums and galleries.

Talinn Town Hall and Square.

Taroudant, Morocco

The Walls of Taroudant – classified as a national cultural heritage, it is a pentagon-shaped fortified wall that surrounds the city of Taroudant in Morocco to protect it from the Saadian sultans.

Tucked in a valley at the foothills of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains is a little citadel encircled by an eight-kilometer wall known as The Great Wall of Taroudant. It is a five-sided shaped fortified wall surrounding one of Morocco’s oldest towns.

Built in the early 16th century by the ruling Saadian dynasty, the Taroudant Walls are made of adobe bricks, molded rocks and rammed earth- a unique design that made this city an unconquerable castle through the centuries. And despite the effect of time, said walls remained amazing that combines beautifully with the view of Atlas Mountains at the background.

The best time to visit Taroudant Walls is at dusk when the evenig lights enhances the colors of the raw earth.

One of the major streets in Taroudant.

York, England

York City Walls, the longest Medieval town walls at 3.4 km. built by the Romans who occupied England in 71 A.D. to protect them from the locals. They’ve been added and re-built over the centuries and now one of the major attractions of York.

In the city of York, one of its top attractions are its city walls guarding the outer edge of a once smaller place. The best complete example of Medieval walls in England, the original one which was then made of wood has been built by the Romans when they occupied the area in 71 A.D. It was built to protect their headquarters known then as Principia, and when the Vikings arrived in the latter years the Roman-built walls were concealed underneath, building over it a stronger one made of stone.

Four main gates called “bar” stand as entrances to regulate traffic in and out of York. These gates were also used as toll cubicles in the Medieval Age. A considerable part of the walls have remained up to this time and there is a raised circular route around the center of the city where you can explore at any time of the year.

York city center.

X’ian, China

An ancient tower along the 637-year old X’ian City Walls in China.

The capital of Shanxi Province, Xian is a fortified city along the ancient Silk Road, its walls built in the 14th century under the reign of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang of the Ming Dynasty. It divides the city into the inner and outer part and it was to protect X’ian during the wars of dynaties in China.

Made of earth, lime and glutinous rice pounded together to produce strong and firm walls then eventually closed by bricks. With drawbridges, towers and a moat, the X’ian Walls are considered one of the largest military fortifications in the world complete with Declared a National Heritage Site in 1961, X’ian Walls has a beautiful layout with the forest and the canal which are in harmony with the walls. Visitors in the city can actually access up to the top of the walls to enjoy a breathtaking view of X’ian.

Once they were utilized as protection from invaders, the most impressive walled cities are not only top attractions in the world but also remain a legacy of the intricate relationship between humans and their environment. They provide a deep historical awareness into the fascinating sphere of Medieval fortification, the fact that they still remain standing until the present time attest to the strength and importance used in that system of protection providing visitors a chance to explore each charming antiquity.

If walking around on walls of ancient towns is one of your bucket lists, then be inspired from the cities mentioned in this article. There are many places in the world that can mesmerize the mind but few can tantalize the soul, so go and discover these fortified cities at least once in your lifetime.


most impressive walled cities

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