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Every now and then, I stumble upon a town almost entirely made from the same, unusual construction materials. I’m not talking about just wood or concrete. Here are some of the most interesting towns in the world when it comes to what they’re made of.
Middelburg was the first city I traveled to which surprised me by it’s unusual construction materials. Located in Zeeland, a southwestern region of the Netherlands, nearly everything in the town is constructed from brick. The buildings, the streets, the walls, even some of the statues around the city. With over 1100 national monuments, preserved fortresses and districts from the Middle Ages, and picturesque canals and windmills, Middleburg is one of the top cities to visit in the Netherlands.
Carrara is a small mining town located on the west coast of northern Italy, just a few kilometers south of the famed Cinque Terre. Since Ancient Roman times, marble has been mined from the quarries which still rise in the background of the town. While not every structure in the town is made sole from marble, the amount of the white stone throughout the village is incredible. Entire streets are paved with it, and many buildings are adorned inside and out. Perhaps the Latin word for quarry, carrariae, comes from this town which predates the Roman Empire.
Photo credit: Nacho Pintos from Flickr
Aran Islands, Ireland
This isn’t just a town made from unusual construction materials, but rather an entire region. The Aran Islands are located off the west coast of Ireland. Hardly anything exists on the islands except for stone, which is what the settlers used to build a labyrinthine network of walls. The purpose of the walls were to create windbreaks on these unprotected islands, and thus allow pastures to grow for their livestock. They even made their own soil by drying out seaweed in the enclosures. Estimates guess there to be somewhere between 1000 and 6000 miles of walls! Simply called “dry stone,” they also used to it in the construction of some of their buildings. Without mortar, but is amazing how the walls and structures didn’t collapse, yet they’ve stayed erected for hundreds of years.
I will add to this post as I run across more cities around the world with unusual construction materials.