This week, we’ve picked our favourite Old Towns in Eastern Europe. This diverse region is dotted with medieval Old Towns and intriguing histories dating back hundreds of years. These are five of the best Old Towns in Eastern Europe.
Tallinn, Estonia’s capital city, has a delightful and charming historic centre. The Old Town dates back to the 12th century when a castle was built there by the crusading knights of the Teutonic Order. Due to its location in the north of the country and along the coast of the Baltic Sea, it became the northern European trading city. Over the years, the UNESCO listed Old Town has managed to retain its enchanting medieval style. Wander for hours through the narrow streets, the cobblestone streets leading you to the churches, towers, monasteries and the market square Raekoja in the heart of the town.
Nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, Dubrovnik has been through some hard times since its beginnings in the 13th century, including a devastating earthquake in 1667. However it has stood strong, preserving its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries and fountains. A wonderful way to spend a day in this Croatian gem is walking the ancient stone walls and forts which enclose the city. Some of these date back to the 9th century. They look down across the Old Town on one side and the glittering blue Adriatic Sea on the other.
Placed in the centre of Latvia, Rīga is indeed the cultural heart of the country. Founded in 1201 as a rest stop for crusading German knights, the 800 years of history which has followed can be felt in enthralling atmosphere of the Old Town. The diverse architecture of Rīga displays this diverse history from the gothic spires of St Peter’s church. The church is thought to have been built at the city’s origins. And the dramatic House of the Blackheads had to be rebuilt after it was destroyed by bombs in the Second World War.
Probably the least well known of our Old Towns in Eastern Europe, Sighișoara is a small fortified city located in the historic region of Transylvania in Romania. It looks like it has been lifted straight out of the pages of a story book. Established in the 12th century as a Saxon settlement, it became a thriving trading town. It’s the perfect place to spend a day. Travellers can explore the Orthodox Cathedral, Cornesti Church and the magnificent medieval clock tower which rises 64 metres above the city.
The Historic Centre of Vienna is rich in stunning architecture, musical legacy, imperial history and captivating culture. The city developed over hundreds of years from a Roman settlement into an opulent Baroque city. Vienna is where some of the greatest classical music pieces where written and performed for the first time. Such influential musicians as Beethoven, Mozart and Bach all hailed from Vienna.