Walled Cities Around the World

In the course of human history, there have been many examples of walled cities in different regions of the world. To protect a certain land from threats, whether natural or human, people put up walls around themselves and their cities. Some of these walled cities have survived and are still populated. These cities provide us with a glimpse at the times when they were built.

Dubrovnik / Croatia

The city of Dubrovnik in Croatia is one of the oldest walled cities in the world. Historians estimate that the walls that surround the city today date back to the 13th century. Due to the effectiveness of the walls, the city could rule itself as an independent state for centuries. In addition, the walls survived an earthquake that almost destroyed the city. Today, Dubrovnik is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Croatia and Europe.

dubrovnik of walled cities
Dragomir Strajinić
dubrovnik walls

Avila / Spain

The construction of the walls of Avila started in the 11th century and continued until the 14th century. The walls are so well preserved and protected that UNESCO added the city to the heritage list. The walls consist of 88 towers and 9 gates. Moreover, the walls are so thick that visitors can walk on them, half of them at least, since a huge part of the walls connect to other structures making it impossible to walk on.

avila of walled cities
Radomir Sevillano
avila city walls
Felipe Reis

Itchan Kala / Uzbekistan

A city that has a lot of history, Itchan Kala is one of the most important walled cities in the world. Centuries ago, Itchan Kala was one of the busiest trade routes of the Silk Road. It was the last place where traders could take a breath before going on a perilous journey in the desert. Since it was home to many traders from Asia, the walls served as protection both for the city and the traders.

itchan kala walls
David Hardenbergh
itchan kala of walled cities
Marianna Pergolini

Xi’an / China

In the 14th century, a wise man told the first Ming Emperor Zhu to build walls around the city they called Xi’an, store goods like food, and then unify China. Zhu took the advice of the wise man and built extensive fortifications around Xi’an. Once the city and the palace were secure, he started his campaign to unify all the other states and become the emperor of a unified China.

xi an of walled cities
xi an walls

York / England

When Romans invaded England, they were threatened by the Scottish tribes of the North and the Celtic tribes of the South. Therefore, to protect themselves and the land, they started to build walls. One of these walls was built around the city of York, making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest, walled cities in the world. After the Romans left, several kings and queens of England added to or renovated the York City walls as well.

york of walled cities
york town walls

Monteriggioni / Italy

A town in Siena, Tuscany, Monteriggioni is truly a sight to behold. What Dante considered as the ring of a giant, this medieval town is surrounded by a wall that goes on for more than 500 meters. The walls were built in the early 13th century to protect the town from Florence, an enemy state at the time. For nearly 350 years, the walls protected the town until it was given to the Medicis in the 16th century.

monteriggioni of walled cities
Elia Candiotto
monteriggioni walls from above
Marco Mingardi