An Old Town, or a historical district, is a preserved urban neighborhood of significant age, built before the emergence of rail travel, large-scale urban planning and high-rise construction in the mid-19th century. The oldest towns already existed at the birth of Christ.
Old Towns usually have narrow streets and even narrower alleys, where pedestrians move easier than automobiles. As buildings were constructed by hand, architecture is much different from modern town centers. Old Towns are usually dominated by city walls or other fortifications, together with palaces and religious buildings (churches, mosques etc).
Old Towns are not necessarily the first settlements at the location; the neighborhoods might have been destroyed and rebuilt several times. This article includes inhabited districts open to common travellers, that have remained largely intact since around 1850.
The Middle East contains many of the world's oldest cities, many of them inhabited several millennia BC. The Arabic term for "Old Town" is Medina (not to be confused by the Saudi Arabian city of the same name).
The very purpose of Old Towns was to collect buildings with walking distance. Because of this, Old Towns are usually less than a kilometer across. Due to slopes, staircases and cobblestone, travellers with disabilities, as well as wheeled suitcases, infant strollers and bicycles might be difficult to push through certain alleys.
Entering an Old Town by automobile can be physically impossible, illegal, or at least very difficult.
Several Old Towns offer horse-carriage rides, in old-style carriages. These are often costly, far from genuine, and should primarily be considered if a guided tour is included.
Old Towns usually contain different kinds of shopping: arts and crafts, as well as mass-produced souvenirs.
As Old Towns are frequented by tourists, meals might be overpriced.
The accommodation inside the Old Towns is usually limited in size and comfort, compared to the Grand Old Hotels of the late-19th century. As rooms are rarely standardized, you should have a look at the room, or at least have a description, before you make the deal.
As Old Towns are often packed with travellers, be aware of common scams. Street lighting might be deficient in Old Towns.