Between all the landmarks and busy streets in megacities like Paris and London, Europe is home to some of the world’s picturesque villages, some persisting around for hundreds of years. The towns have gorgeous views from every angle: scenic harbour, colourful row of houses, whimsical monuments and inherit some magnificent medieval structures listed as UNESCO World Heritage List.

The ten destinations below are villages every architect must document in Europe to get a more authentic country feel.

1. Dinant, Belgium

Set amidst a dramatic cliff and the Meuse River, the Dinant village is stunning. Its architecture holds a rich history that emanates from every corner. Citadelle de Dinant’s fortress proudly dominated the town and built the Meuse River in 1815. Various exhibits and museums offer a sense of what the fort was like in the early 19th century. The other most distinctive landmark of the village is the 13th-century Gothic cathedral with a curious onion dome. The site is also home to the saxophone and Europe’s most complicated biscuits

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2. Cobh, Ireland

Cobh is situated on the coast of County Cork, Ireland. With stunning views aside, Cobh is best known for being the last point of call for the Titanic before the tragedy struck, and a glimpse of the past can be learned from the memorial museum stands in the city today. Stretching up a steep street in Cobh, there is a row of candy-coloured houses known as the ‘Deck of Cards’, one of the town’s most recognisable features.

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3. Obidos, Portugal

The small picturesque village Obidos is situated in Cork city’s harbour, which is the second largest natural harbour in the world. The village gives reminiscence of yesteryear. The historic townscape has an old-town charm. The houses have whitewashed walls trimmed with blue or yellow borders set in cobbled streets. Beside the charming architecture, and flowery back alleys, Obidos is a pioneer for the most premium version of the strong cherry-based liquor, Ginja. The old lanes are loaded with Ginja stalls and have an array of souvenir stores with stunning pieces of handicrafts.

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4. Alberobello, Italy

Alberobello is a small town located in Southern Italy. The town is unique for its Trulli buildings.  Some of the houses are restored and intended for restaurants, souvenir shops, or as a unique accommodation for tourists to get an authentic experience. The Trulli houses were built using dry stones without mortar, usually on a circular or square plan. The roofs are also made of stones and finished with a white tip. The exteriors are whitewashed and mythological signs are painted on the roofs. The famous Trulli has been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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5. Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt is a gorgeous Alpine village situated between the Lake Hallstatt and towering Dachstein Mountains. The village is thought to be the oldest in Europe that has spectacular scenery on all sides. The narrow streets have pastel Baroque buildings and timber houses wedged along the Dachstein Mountain seem to topple over each other.  In 1997 Hallstatt was listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site due to its great historical significance and architectural beauty.

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6. Guarda, Switzerland

Guarda is a remote village located in the Lower Engadine, a rugged region in eastern Switzerland. The house of the Engadine village stands for its quaint architecture, with houses of beautifully painted facades, etched windows, and ancient inscriptions called sgraffito.

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7. Cochem, Germany

Cochem is a diverse town located along the Mosel River. The town is of half-timbered houses, with narrow winding streets and medieval castles. There are many churches and parishes that reflect renaissance and romantic period designs. Above it all, the imperial castle Reincohsburg Cochem stands tall and proud. The magnificent castle inherits rich cultures and is an important part of architectural history.

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8. Suzdal, Russia

Suzdal is the oldest town in Russia and the smallest town of the Russian Golden Ring. The town preserves a great number of historically important monuments and architectural sites that reveal outstanding examples of ancient Russian architecture. Saviour Monastery of St Euthymius and Kremlin with Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral are enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The monuments are unique which are characterized by white limestone, refined proportions and fine stone carving.

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9. Simiane-la-Rotonde, France

Surrounded by olive groves and lavender fields, Simiane-la-Rotonde is a splendid village located between the Luberon Mountains and Pays de Forcalquier area. The village is dominated by medieval castles, narrow and flower-filled cobbled streets lined with beautiful old houses, art studios and craft shops.

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10. Giethoorn, Netherlands

Giethoorn is one of the greenest and peaceful places in Netherlands.The village is referred as ‘The Venice of Netherlands’ as it has no roads but miles of canals and the primary means of transport is boat, similar to that of Venice. The village mostly inherits thatched roof farmhouses and cottages, encircled by blooming gardens and a clean atmosphere.

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Author

Tasmania Chowdhury, an architecture graduate, is currently engaged as a feature writer in the leading architecture magazine in Bangladesh. To her, architecture exists as an emotional platform. It has the potential to make people move. She enjoys putting down this emotive tool in writing while enjoying a cup of latte and plugging to ‘Rabindra Sangeet’.

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