5 Must-See European Villages Home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites
It’s no secret that Europe is brimming with charming historical villages. We share five of our “must-see” destinations that are also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO is a world wide organization that encourages the preservation of natural and cultural heritage sites across the world.
1. Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Resting in the valley of the Neretva River, Mostar was originally established as an Ottoman frontier in the 15th century.
The city still contains elements of Turkish architecture, which can be seen in the Muslibegovića House, the Old Bridge, and many residential homes. This influence was artfully combined with local Mediterranean and western European architecture, forming a unique contrast that weaves the story of Mostar’s multicultural past.
Although much of the historical centre, including the Old Bridge, was destroyed during the 1990s, UNESCO has since established a committee to aid the city in its restoration and reconstruction efforts.
2. Toruń, Poland
Toruń, one of the oldest cities in Poland, lies next to the Vistula River. The city’s medieval quarter was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its almost entirely preserved spatial layout and Gothic style brick buildings.
The city’s most captivating monuments include the great fortified walls, the Leaning Tower, and Old Town Hall. Toruń also has the largest number of preserved Gothic houses in Poland, many of which still contain medieval murals and original wood-beam ceilings from the 16th century.
3. Nessebar, Bulgaria
Built on top of a rocky peninsula jutting into the Black Sea, the ancient city of Nessebar is a site containing over three thousand years of history.
Although Nessebar was originally a Thracian tribe settlement, it became a Greek colony at the beginning of the 6th century BC. The city’s ancient remains include an acropolis, a temple of Apollo, an agora, and a wall from the original Thracian fortifications. The city has also preserved its fortress and the Stara Mitropolia Basilica which both date back to the Dark Ages.
It was Nessebar’s rare abundance of diverse historical structures that prompted UNESCO to include this seaside town in its list of World Heritage Sites.
4. Sighişoara, Romania
As one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns, it’s no surprise that Sighişoara made UNESCO’s list. The city’s nine medieval watchtowers are a lasting symbol of Sighişoara’s history as a strategic site and commercial hub during the Middle Ages.
A stroll through the city’s hilly streets brings visitors through cobblestone alleys, up narrow staircases, and past crooked burgher houses and steepled churches.
Interestingly, Sighişoara was the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, the 15th century ruler of the province of Wallachia and the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s fictional character Count Dracula.
5. Bled, Slovenia
Bled lies at the southern foot of the Karawanks mountain range and edges the shore of Lake Bled. The city is known for its iconic castle perched on a rocky ridge overlooking Lake Bled, as well as a small neighbouring island topped with a pilgrimage church.
Although the city itself isn’t a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Škocjan Caves are, just over an hour away. The Škocjan are an extraordinary labyrinth of limestone caves spanning approximately six kilometres and reaching a depth of 200 metres. The caves also feature many natural waterfalls and one of the largest known underground chambers in the world.
Have you visited any charming villages or UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe? Let us know in the comments below.