In countries around the world, there are villages and towns that have fascinatingly managed to preserve their original architecture and landscape amidst rapid modernization.
The rich historical context they give us has led to their recognition by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites of cultural significance.
From Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia’s oldest mining town, to South Korea’s Yangdong and Hahoe villages, whose stunning landscape inspired 17th- and 18th-century poets, here are 14 villages and towns that have managed to maintain their original culture, architecture, and character for hundreds of years.
Japan's Shirakawa-go village, located in the Gifu Prefecture, and the nearby Gokayama village, located in the Nanto in Toyama Prefecture, are known for their unique building style of steeply pitched, thatched roofs. The villages are located in a stunning mountainous region where you'll see a river valley surrounded by rugged mountains.
Vlkolínec, a village which resides under the administration of Ružomberok in Slovakia, maintains more than 40 unaltered buildings from 1376. The village still hosts traditional log houses that were once popular in the past, as well as the elongated strip shape characteristic of Medieval land allotment.
The Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn dates back to the 13th century and stands today as a preserved Medieval northern European trading city on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Its narrow winding streets still mostly retain their Medieval names, and the town wall, Town Hall, pharmacy, churches, monasteries, and merchant's and craftsmen' guild still remain in their original condition.
The Xidi village is located in the Yi County of the historical Guizhou region of Anhui province, China, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside the village of Hongcun. The village still maintains wooden residences from the Ming and Qing dynasties, many of which are open to the public.
The village of Hahoe, a UNESCO World Heritage site alongside the Yangdong village, is located in the Gyeongsangbuk-do Province of South Korea. The area preserves architecture of the Joseon period. It is organised around guidelines of Korean feng shui and has the shape of a lotus flower.
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