You’ll find many of the world’s best-known walled cities in the world in Europe, but Europe isn’t the only continent where you’ll find magical places built within protective walls. From Europe to Asia, Africa and beyond, these are 7 of the most stunning walled cities you can visit.
This historic city in southwestern Morocco bears a striking resemblance to Marrakech but with a few key differences. Taroudant is smaller than Marrakech, giving it a more manageable feel, and is also set almost entirely within nearly 5 miles of fortified walls. The Saadian dynasty built the towering golden ramparts to keep out Spanish and Portuguese invaders during the 16th century, making them among the oldest in Morocco.
Quebec City, Canada
Quebec's capital is the only walled North American city north of Mexico. Built between 1608 and 1871, these stone walls include four gates, three towers, and the Citadelle of Québec, once the most significant British fortress on the continent. Inside Quebec City's walls, you'll find sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River, the 17th-century Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral, and Château Frontenac, one of the most photographed hotels in the world.
First welcoming settlers in 1,500 B.C., this city in east-central Uzbekistan is one of the oldest in Central Asia and was an essential stop on the Silk Route. Once captured by Alexander the Great and destroyed by Genghis Khan, Samarkand is a city that's been rebuilt from ruins but feels much newer than it is. It's best known for its Islamic architecture, punctuated with bright turquoise domes and glistening mosques.
The closer you get to this Spanish city’s walls, the more intimidating and magnificent they appear. They were built by the ancient Romans but modified by the Arabs, who later ruled this area. Sitting on a hill above the Tagus River, today's charming city reflects its Jewish, Christian, and Muslim past. It’s about an hour-long drive or a 30-minute train ride from Madrid, making it a great day trip option.
The Estonian capital’s 13th-century walls were once one of the strongest defense systems in Northern Europe. More than half of them are intact—including 26 towers, two full city gates, and two partial city gates. For an epic view of Old Town Tallinn, take a walk on the section of the walls that connects the Nunne, Sauna, and Kuldjala towers. It does cost a few euros to walk this stretch, but it’s a bargain for these priceless vistas.
About 3,000 years old, Xi’an is the oldest city in China, and its 644-year-old walls are some of the best preserved in the country. They were built during the Ming Dynasty—along with a moat and network of drawbridges, watch towers, and gates—and have been refurbished several times since then. Today, visitors can walk, bike, or rent an electric golf cart to explore Xian’s 9 miles of walls.
Jaisalmer Fort’s yellow sandstone walls tower above the desert in Rajasthan, seemingly taking on a deep golden hue as the sun sets. This is one of the oldest forts in Rajasthan—an Indian state dotted with forts—and was once a stop on crucial trading routes like the Silk Road. Nowadays, you’ll find several temples, a luxurious palace, and sprawling mansions made from the area’s signature yellow sandstone within the city walls.