Medinas are walled historic city centers, typically found in North Africa and the Middle East. They are characterized by their narrow winding streets, traditional architecture, and bustling markets. Medinas have been around for centuries, and many of them are still well-preserved today.
If you’re looking for a truly authentic travel experience, consider visiting a city with an old medina. Here are 10 of the most beautiful medinas in the world:
1. Marrakech, Morocco
Marrakech is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Morocco, and for good reason. The city’s old medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. The narrow streets are lined with traditional shops selling everything from spices and carpets to leather goods and jewelry. There are also many mosques, palaces, and other historic buildings to explore.
2. Essaouira, Morocco
Essaouira is a charming coastal city in Morocco, known for its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful medina. The medina is surrounded by ancient ramparts, and it’s full of narrow streets and traditional shops. Essaouira is also a popular destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
3. Fes, Morocco
Fes is one of the oldest cities in Morocco, and its medina is one of the largest and most well-preserved in the world. The medina is divided into two parts: Fes el Bali (the old city) and Fes el Jedid (the new city). Fes el Bali is a maze of narrow streets and alleyways, and it’s home to many historic buildings, including the Chouara Tannery and the Karaouine Mosque.
4. Chefchaouen, Morocco
Chefchaouen is a picturesque mountain town in Morocco, known for its blue-washed buildings. The medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s full of narrow streets and traditional shops. Chefchaouen is a popular destination for photographers and hikers alike.
5. Tunis, Tunisia
Tunis is the capital of Tunisia, and its medina is one of the largest and most vibrant in the Arab world. The medina is full of narrow streets, traditional shops, and historic buildings, including the Zitouna Mosque and the Dar Ben Abdallah Museum.
6. Cairo, Egypt
Cairo is one of the oldest and largest cities in the Middle East, and its medina is one of the most atmospheric in the world. The medina is home to many historic buildings, including the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, and the Citadel of Saladin.
7. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is a sprawling city on the border of Europe and Asia, and its medina is one of the most cosmopolitan in the world. The medina is home to many historic buildings, including the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar.
8. Jerusalem, Israel
Jerusalem is a holy city for three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The medina is home to many important religious sites, including the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Dome of the Rock.
9. Sana’a, Yemen
Sana’a is the capital of Yemen, and its medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medina is known for its mud-brick buildings and its many mosques. Sana’a is a popular destination for tourists who are interested in Islamic culture.
10. Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Bukhara is a historic city in Uzbekistan, known for its well-preserved medieval architecture. The medina is home to many historic buildings, including the Kalyan Minaret, the Poi Kalyan Mosque, and the Ark of Bukhara.
Tips for visiting a medina
- Medinas can be crowded and disorienting, so it’s a good idea to wear comfortable shoes and bring a map.
- Be prepared to bargain with shopkeepers.
- Be respectful of the local