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Europe's Most Beautifully Precarious Villages

09/11/2013 08:01 am ET | Updated Nov 11, 2013

Europe is home to some of the world's most enchanting villages; small, rustic towns where time seems to slow down and travelers can explore narrow streets, ancient buildings, and farm-fresh country taverns to really soak up the local flavor. Europe is also home to some of the most unusual villages found anywhere on Earth, many of them packed into impossible nooks and crannies or perched high upon treacherous rocky cliffs, locations once used for surveying the surrounding lands and protection from attacks.

Whatever the reason, modern travelers are thankful to have these postcard-ready relics from a bygone era, and we've gone to the community of travelers at minube to find out more about these must-see towns of perilous placement and bring you this list of Europe's most beautifully precarious villages.

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Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy - After centuries of decline due to earthquakes and collapsing cliff walls, Civita di Bagnoregio, a city that hovers like an island above a sea of forest and rock, now has a new life thanks to restoration efforts and a recently-added concrete walkway. Many of the previously-abandoned homes have been replaced by elegant cliff-top villas, and the village is now buzzing with regional restaurants and a growing tourism scene where locals routinely invite visitors to stay in their centuries-old homes (for a small fee, of course). (Photo by Jacek P. Ochmanska)

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Riomaggiore, Italy - Riomaggiore is the easternmost village of Italy's fabled Cinque Terre, a UNESCO-recognized stretch of coast whose five colorful cliff villages have helped make the region one of the most iconic in the country. Luckily, Riomaggiore has escaped some of the natural catastrophes of neighboring town of Vernazza and is still intact in all its charmingly precarious glory. Make sure to also check out the Via dell'Amore ("Lovers' Road"), a breathtaking coastal walkway connecting the five villages, which begins in Riomaggiore. (Photo by Sofia Santos)

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Alcalá de Jucar, Spain - The cliff walls of a horseshoe-shaped canyon bend is certainly an odd place for village, but Alcalá de Jucar in the heart of Spain's Castilla La Mancha region pulls it off to wonderful effect. The village's narrow streets start at the cliff-top castle and go winding down between quaint cottages, cave hotels, and hearty taverns before arriving at a peaceful stream complete with a pebble beach and small waterfall. It's the definition of an idyllic European village. (Photo by Sala2500)

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Castelmezzano, Italy - Pressed tight against the towering Lucan Dolomites, Castelmezzano is one of the most emblematic villages in Italy's Basilicata region. It's a popular getaway for local tourists looking to escape the controlled chaos that is city life and spend their time wandering the village's legendary hiking trails, enjoying the hearty cuisine in the farm-restaurants of the valley below, and enjoying the one-of-a-kind views. Half the fun of Castelmezzano, though, is getting there, and travelers suggest renting a car to enjoy the viewpoints and villages along the scenic highway. (Photo by Agostino)

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Monsanto, Portugal - The small Portuguese village is truly a wonder to behold, both in terms of its layout and history. Crowned by a Templar castle, the fairytale-like village rambles down a boulder-strewn hill, with homes, restaurants, and shops snatching up every available square inch between the colossal rocks and sometimes even incorporating them into the architecture as a ceiling or a wall. Monsanto is also known as "the most Portuguese town in Portugal," a testament to its rich historical and culinary heritage. (Photo by Latalbar)

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Rocamadour, France - Rocamadour is, in many travelers' opinions, one of the top destinations of all of France, not surprising, given the village's jaw-dropping location against a massive cliff wall over the Alzhou River. Rocamadour, however, doesn't owe its fame to just its striking setting; it's been a place of pilgrimage for centuries, with devotees flocking to see the legendary Black Madonna of Rocamadour, and, more recently, with curious foodies eager to try the village's famous goat cheese. (Photo by Jennifer Lavoura)

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Sorano, Italy - In a region as enchanting as Tuscany, picking the most beautiful village can be a tricky affair; selecting the most striking village, however, is easy: Sorano. This cliff-top settlement has been inhabited since at least the 3rd century BC and visitors exploring its streets can easily stumble across roads, tombs, and walls dating back to the ancient Etruscans and Romans, or visit the Orsini Fortress and its labyrinth of underground tunnels. Less adventurous types, though, can always warm up in a local inn, enjoy a rustic Tuscan meal, and sample the local wines. (Photo by Ale_Lalla)

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Calcata, Italy - Even though it's just an hour's drive from the bustle of downtown Rome, the village of Calcata certainly feels a world (and centuries) apart. Perched atop an outcropping of volcanic rock, the ancient town's cobblestone streets and ivy-covered city calls descending down into the surrounding valley have served as an inspiration for Rome's artists for years, a fact reflected by Calcata's bohemian atmosphere of art galleries, street performers, and crafts stores. (Photo by Guiseppe Civica)

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Castellfollit de la Roca, Spain - Near the gorgeous resort town of Girona on Spain's Mediterranean coast, the medieval village of Castellfollit de la Roca has slowly become one of the region's most popular day trip destinations, thanks in no small part to its picturesque location at the edge of a 150ft. cliff of volcanic rock. Travelers planning a visit can't miss the views from the church planted at the end of the cliff, the vertigo-inducing narrow streets which run near the cliff face, and the heavenly local bakeries serving up traditional Catalan delicacies. (Photo by Pilar A. Bartolome)

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Pont-en-Royans, France - At the entrance to the lush Vercors Natural Park in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, travelers are greeted by the unique village of Pont-en-Royans, a colorful medieval village nestled between rocky cliffs and a peaceful stream. Given it's location, you can imagine the important part that water plays in village life and they've even got a "Water Bar" where you can sample over 900 varieties of water from around the world. If you're looking for something a bit more daring, don't forget to check out the dazzling stalactites and galleries of the nearby Choranche Caves. (Photo by Ahzuli)

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