Underrated historic cities around the world

Ella Castle

Underrated spots with a story While most people are familiar with ancient capitals such as Athens and Rome, the world is filled with cities that are smaller in size, but no lighter on historical significance. We reveal 50 historic destinations you never knew existed… Microsoft may earn […]


While most people are familiar with ancient capitals such as Athens and Rome, the world is filled with cities that are smaller in size, but no lighter on historical significance. We reveal 50 historic destinations you never knew existed…



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Existing in a tangle of churches, cafés and cobbled streets, Kotor’s Old Town is one of Europe’s most atmospheric. In its long history, the city has come under Serbian, Hungarian and Venetian rule, and its medieval walls still stand proud, rewarding those who climb them with epic vistas across Kotor Bay. A maze of cobbled streets leads to the 17th-century clock tower and the Serbo-Byzantine-style Church of St Nicholas.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Just under 100 miles northwest of Madrid, you’ll find Segovia, a pocket-sized city and World Heritage Site crammed with historic landmarks. Worthy pit stops include the 16th-century Gothic cathedral, reportedly the last Spanish cathedral to be built in this style, and the Alcázar de Segovia, a striking castle with its roots in the 11th century. The well-preserved Jewish Quarter is full of medieval charm.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


The city of Nelson has its roots in the 1800s, when silver was struck in the area and a series of mines and a townsite were built up here. It was officially incorporated by 1897 and became the first administrative center in British Columbia’s Kootenays region. Nelson continued to thrive into the 20th century and today its history is its major draw. The city’s self-guided Heritage Walking Tour loops past some of the area’s most impressive Victorian architecture.



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Characterized by its Roman architecture, this city in France’s Provence region has an artistic side too. It’s revered for its connection to the late Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, who produced a large body of work here (though sadly none remains). The city’s history is palpable, though, and the highlight is undoubtedly the Arles Amphitheater (Arènes d’Arles), a vast Roman colosseum once home to fierce gladiatorial battles.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


The photogenic city of Colonia del Sacramento is one of the oldest in Uruguay and its historic quarter is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was established in 1680 by the Portuguese, though it was eventually overtaken by Spanish forces, changing hands numerous times. Today both Spanish and Portuguese influences can be seen in the city’s architecture, with top sights including the Church of the Holy Sacrament.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


A seriously underrated city in south-central Sweden, Västerås sits right on Lake Mälaren. Its history stretches back to at least the Middle Ages when it was a key market town, and its oldest quarters remain a warren of cobbled streets and colorful houses. There are historic sights aplenty, including the 13th-century Scandinavian Gothic-style cathedral and Anundshög, an ancient burial mound and one of the largest in Sweden.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


‘s-Hertogenbosch, often simply referred to as Den Bosh, was first chartered back in 1185. From then, the city suffered a tumultuous history seeing multiple sieges and changing hands numerous times over the years. It’s also closely associated with Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, who was born here in the 15th century. Today the city’s most impressive landmark is the Gothic-style St John’s Cathedral, which took more than 150 years to build.



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While many have heard of the teeny-tiny city of St Davids, Wales’ second-smallest city often flies under the radar. St Asaph is best-known for its compact cathedral, the present iteration of which dates back to the 15th century and is the smallest in Britain. There was a settlement here as early as AD 560 and the village today is just as quaint and peaceful, with tiny bed and breakfasts and bucolic surrounds.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


A breathtaking city in the Himalayas, Leh is best known as a gateway to some of India’s top mountainous treks – but it’s got plenty for lovers of history too. The imposing Tibetan-style Leh Palace dates to the 17th century and has fabulous views of the surrounding area. The winding alleys and mud-brick houses of Leh’s photogenic Old Town are also a top draw.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Armagh is labeled as the “ecclesiastical capital” of Ireland, and the city is closely associated with Saint Patrick. Ireland’s patron saint is thought to have built a hilltop church here right back in AD 445, and today the striking St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral stands in this storied spot. Beyond the sacred history, Armagh is filled with cozy pubs, restaurants and parks.



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The capital of the eponymous province of Chieti, this hilltop city was founded by the ancient Italian Marrucini tribe. It was taken over by the Romans in 305 BC and the city’s oldest quarter is still dotted with Roman ruins, including a theater and temples. Look out too for Porta Pescara, an old city gate dating to the 13th century when the city was ruled by the Angevin dynasty.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


What the little city of Trondheim lacks in size, it makes up for with natural beauty, oodles of museums and an intriguing history. Established back in AD 997, the city has served as both a pilgrimage site and an important trading hub throughout its centuries of existence. Today, though, it’s a feast for the eyes, full of rainbow buildings, winding waterways and historic attractions. The magnificent Nidaros Cathedral is a national sanctuary and the northernmost Gothic cathedral in Europe.



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Watched over by soaring peaks, the little city of Dinant is in Belgium’s Walloon Region, set on the Meuse River. It has played an important part in global musical history – the inventor of the saxophone, Antoine-Joseph “Adolphe” Sax, grew up here and tributes to him and his creation can be found across the city. The hulking Citadelle de Dinant, a 19th-century fort, is another slice of Dinant’s past.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


A small city in South Africa’s Western Cape, George is usually held up for its high-quality golf courses and coastal location – but, colonized in 1811 by the British, the city has its fair share of history too. It was named for King George III and served as a woodcutter’s outpost. Highlights include the George Museum and the whitewashed Dutch Reformed Mother Church (pictured), which was consecrated in 1842.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Often nicknamed ‘the White City’, Popayán, in Cauca, was founded in the 16th century by Sebastián de Belalcázar. The beautifully preserved city retains much of its historic Spanish character, with remnants of the era from mansions to monasteries. There’s the Iglesia de San Francisco, the largest and most striking of Popayán’s churches, and the Casa Museo Mosquera, a dinky museum in an 18th-century mansion.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


This city was a key part of the Brazilian Gold Rush, which began at the end of the 17th century, and its name fittingly translates as “Black Gold”. Ouro Preto developed over the sheer hills of the Vila Rica, forming a cluster of steep lanes and Baroque buildings. The Baroque-style Church of São Francisco of Assisi, with its jaw-dropping reliefs and frescoes, is the city’s standout sight.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


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