Far afield from the bustling city lives, set amongst edifices of concrete and steel, lay the picturesque and poetic settings of villages. From organic, narrow alleyways to houses made of stone, timber or mud, the settlements blend seamlessly with the natural landscape, surrounding them.
These beautiful villages each with their unique history, culture and lifestyle are a must-visit for every architect in search of tranquillity and rural beauty.
Here’s a list of 15 famous villages around the world that architects must visit:
1. Hallstatt, Austria
Set against the backdrop of Dachstein mountain ranges, the Austrian village of Hallstatt is one of the most picturesque places in Europe. Timber and stone houses painted in bright red and yellow, with flower boxes draped windows showcase 16th-century Austrian architecture.
Ornate old churches, Alpine inns, charming cafes lined along the subterranean lake, adds to the visual appeal of the village.
2. Mountain village, Iran
Far above the sea-level, built on the slopes of Alborz mountains in Iran, is the stunning village Masouleh. As a series of ochre-coloured, mud-brick cottages lay onto the roofs of one another, the village grows organically along the slope, giving it a distinctive quality.
Constructed in response to the cold climatic conditions and the susceptibility to floods and earthquakes, the stepped village is an example of a symphony between architecture and nature.
3. Fenghuang ancient town, China
A quaint town situated at the foothills of a mountain and on the banks of the Tuo Jiang River, Fenghuang is a place renowned for its rich history, ethnicity and natural beauty. The lush green fields, gabled timber houses built on stilts, bridges and alleys paved with flagstones portray primitive simplicity and harmony between the built and unbuilt.
The unique cultural atmosphere, historical buildings, narrow alleys decorated with lanterns, reflect the country’s rich past.
4. Eguisheim, France
Nestled amidst rolling vine-covered hills, is the colourful village of Eguisheim. The village is characterized by the vibrant, half-timbered houses lined along narrow, winding cobblestone streets.
At the centre of the village, lies a centuries-old castle, around which the settlements grew in concentric circles. The overhanging flowerbeds, small courtyards with churches, pretty fountains, stone gabled roofs, all add to the picturesque setting.
5. Manarola village, Cinque Terre, Italy
One of the most beautiful fishing villages of Cinque Terre (Cinque meaning five in Italian and Terre meaning land), is the village of Manarola, wedged into the rugged terrain of the Italian Riviera.
Set against the prolific backdrop of grapevine yards, the stacked multicoloured homes along the narrow alleyways that run in between, the village is an example of the timeless appeal of classic architecture.
6. Bibury, England
Located on the banks of river Coln, Bibury is a 14th-century English country village characterized by its honey-coloured stone cottages. The famous Arlington Row is a set of stone cottages with pitched roofs and is listed as a national architectural conservation area.
With the Arlington Row on one side and the marshy water meadow known as the Rack Isle, on the other, wandering in this beautiful place is like getting lost in a postcard of absolute English charm.
7. Ait Ben Haddou, Morocco
Located at the foothills of the southern slopes of Atlas, Ait ben Haddou is a fortified earthen village, exemplary of Southern Moroccan architecture. The red clay-bricked earthen buildings beautifully blend with the natural surroundings and adapt perfectly to the arid climatic conditions.
Although the village is almost deserted now, it is a treasured destination for history and nature lovers.
8. Oia, Greece
A traditional village located in Santorini, Oia is famous for its plethora of stunning whitewashed buildings that give panoramic views of the port and the volcano. Beautiful churches with blue domes, cobbled paths, sun-bathed verandas, homes burrowed into the rock, the architecture of the village is in complete harmony with the volcanic scenery of the island.
9. Saint Cirq Lapopie, Lot
A small, medieval village located on the cascading slopes of the Lot valley; Saint Cirq Lapopie is one of the most remarkable sites in France. Rich in heritage and history, the village is popular amongst tourists but has managed to retain its rustic charm and character.
Beautiful stone houses with brown-tiled roofs, gothic facades, narrow paved alleyways with flowered terraces, the village is a cherished wonder.
10. Garli village, India
Situated in the shadows of the Dhauladhar range, in the Kangra district, Garli is a small hamlet constituting clusters of heritage buildings. Certified as a heritage village by the state government, the village is home to a variety of architectural styles from Portuguese to Italian, from Islamic to Rajasthani.
A walk through the cobblestone streets lined with ornate Havelis and mansions is like going back in time to the glorious past of the village.
11. Ko Panyi, Thailand
Under the shadow of a massive limestone cliff, situated in a bay in southern Thailand, lies the floating village of Ko Panyi. Hundreds of shacks, huts, restaurants, houses built on stilts, cluster together to form the village.
Ko Panyi is an exemplar of a sustainable fishing community that illustrates alternate means of living which is in sync with the forces of nature.
12. Larung Gar, Tibet
Nestled in the sparse mountains of Eastern Tibet, lies the monastery town of Larung Gar. The village is famous for its myriad of red-coloured homes, monasteries, numerous stupas, temples and giant prayer wheels.
This historical and religious site is currently facing the threat of being endangered due to forced migration and demolition.
13. Shirakawa Go, Japan
Surrounded by the Japanese alps, Shirakawa go is a whimsical mountain village famous for its traditional ‘gassho-zukuri’ styled farmhouses. The houses are identified by the steep pitched thatched roofs, made of wooden framework, to prevent the piling up of snow in harsh winters.
Completely made of natural materials and having survived for more than 250 years, the village is an outstanding example of a traditional way of living, adapted perfectly to the natural environment as well as social and economic needs of the community.
14. Ortahisar, Turkey
Situated in the heart of Cappadocia, lies the village of Ortahisar, which despite its central location has remained largely traditional. The village is named after the jagged castle camouflaged amongst the rugged, rustic surroundings and is honeycombed with caves and tunnels within.
Even though the surrounding towns have become more touristic with time, the stoned houses, winding narrow streets, and medieval churches are still characteristic of simpler, older times.
15. Zalipie, Poland
Located in South-eastern Poland, Zalipie is a small rural village famous for its tradition of painting folksy floral patterns. The entire village, from the walls to furniture to fences, are painted in colourful polish folk flowers.
The green landscapes, vibrant gardens with native flowers and the beautiful, coloured paintings make the overall atmosphere of the village lively and cheerful.