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Old Towns

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Old Towns

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    This article is a travel topic

An Old Town, or a historical district, is a preserved urban neighborhood of significant age, at least older than rail travel and high-rise construction (which appeared in the mid-19th century), in some cases predating the birth of Christ.

Old Towns usually have narrow streets, 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).

Several Old Towns are recognized on the UNESCO World Heritage List. An Old Town is inhabited, in contrast to an archaeological site.

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.

Famous Old Towns


Middle East




Get around

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 might have difficulties moving around. Wheelchairs, 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.


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 see the room, or at least have a description, before you make the deal.

Stay safe

As Old Towns are often packed with travellers, be aware of common scams. Street lighting might be deficient in Old Towns.