ISOLP’s Top 10 Historic Cities


Historic Cities #1

Khiva, Uzbekistan

Sand. Sand, sand, sand. Then this, rising up from the desert. A city: Khiva. Full of houses, public squares, minarets, madrasahs, mosques; all the trappings of a city. But never, in Khiva, do you feel free of the desert. Khiva is a city of sand, a city of the desert. The occasional splash of aquamarine tiles only heightens the sandy palette.

Kalta Minor, Khiva, Uzbekistan

Kalta Minor. Khiva, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit


Historic Cities #2

Ushguli, Georgia

Why are there so many watchtowers? That’s what I keep thinking as I pick my way along the muddy, disorderly, old-world laneways of Ushguli in the mountainous Svaneti region of Georgia.

Ushguli, Georgia

Ushguli, Georgia. Photo credit: Benjamin White


Historic Cities #3

Old Town, Lamu, Kenya

Lamu is an island on Kenya’s northern coastline situated 250 kilometres north of Mombasa, and 100 kilometres south of the Somali border.

Old Town, Lamu, Kenya

Old Town, Lamu, Kenya. Photo credit: Benjamin White


Historic Cities #4

Havana, Cuba

Cuba is trapped in a time bubble. Walk down the main street of Havana today and you’ll swear you’ve been sent back to the 1950s.

Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit


Historic Cities #5

Berat, Albania

I can’t believe there are so few tourists here in Berat. How can there be picturesque laneways like this one, and yet, no tourists? It makes no sense.

Town of Thousand Windows, Berat, Albania

Berat, Albania. Photo credit: Benjamin White


Historic Cities #6

Český Krumlov, Czechia

Český Krumlov is beautiful. Maybe even a little too beautiful? It feels, at times, as if the city beautification program has gone about their task without the steadying hand of restraint…

Český Krumlov, Czechia

Český Krumlov, Czechia. Photo credit: Benjamin White


Historic Cities #7

Popayán, Colombia

Popayán, in southwest Colombia, was founded in 1537. It was once one of the most important cities in South America, being strategically located between the three major Spanish ports of Cartagena, Quito, and Lima.

Popayan, Colonial City of Colombia

Photo credit: Benjamin White


Historic Cities #8

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada has been a strategically important city since its founding in 1524.

Cathedral over rooftops, Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua. Photo credit: Benjamin White


Historic Cities #9

Kotor, Montenegro

The locals like to call the Bay of Kotor a fjord, but in truth it isn’t. Fjords are carved out by glaciers, whereas the Bay of Kotor, in Montenegro, is simply a flooded river valley.

Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, Kotor, Montenegro

Photo credit: Benjamin White


Historic Cities #10

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar. What springs to mind when you hear the name?

Stone Town at sunset, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Stone Town of Zanzibar, Tanzania. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit





Worthy contenders:

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Pile Bay, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Photo credit: Benjamin White

Jodhpur, India

The Blue City, Jodhpur, India

Photo credit: Benjamin White

Nizwa, Oman 

Nizwa, Oman

Photo credit: Benjamin White

Vigan, Philippines

Crisologo Street, Vigan, Philippines

Crisologo Street, Vigan, Manila. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Sighișoara, Romania

Sighișoara, Romania

Photo credit: Benjamin White

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