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These Are The Oldest Houses In The World, And They’re Absolutely Mesmerizing

Believe it or not, human beings have occupied some properties for hundreds – and on occasion thousands – of years. No, not just cities or regions. We’re talking about inhabiting the same four walls for centuries! Yes, modern Brits are currently living in homes built during the reign of Henry VIII. Caves in Italy first settled back in the Stone Age now host luxury hotel rooms. And a dazzling 12th-century city in New Mexico is still occupied by the Acoma people who first built it. So, keep scrolling to see some of our planet’s most breathtaking properties from the days of old.

20. The Three Brothers, Riga, Latvia – late 15th to 17th centuries

The oldest of these three “sibling” properties is the one on the right – number 17 Maza Pils Street. And though it stands in the Latvian capital of Riga, you can thank the Dutch for its existence. It was built back in the late 15th century, you see, when trade with the Netherlands was thriving. The house’s architecture shows a clear influence from the Dutch Renaissance period, too. And if you’re wondering why its top windows are so small, well that was apparently to avoid some of the window tax levied when it was built.

The piggy in the middle – number 19 – can be easily dated since its year of construction is inscribed on the façade: 1646. And if you ever find yourself in Riga, you can explore the Latvian Museum of Architecture inside its doors. But what of the baby brother? Well, the little one in both size and age, number 21 was constructed sometime in the second half of the 17th century.

19. Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico – 12th century

Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico is thought to be the oldest continually occupied site anywhere in North America. Archeologists believe that people have lived in this place – which is also known as Sky City, for obvious reasons – since at least the 12th century. Today, there’s still a permanent community of around 50 Acoma people who live in the settlement year-round.

If you visit Acoma, the town you’ll see perched on a sandstone mesa dates back to the Spanish colonial time in the mid-17th century. The settlement’s dramatic location on top of 350-foot tall cliffs meant it was a place of safety for its occupants. Sounds like a hair-raising spot to call home, right? That’s nothing! At one time, the only access was via steps cut into the sheer sandstone escarpments. No, thanks.

18. Kirkjubøargarður, Streymoy, Faroe Islands – 11th century

Way out in the frosty North Atlantic, nestled between Iceland and the Shetland Islands of Scotland, sits the Faroe archipelago. It’s a windswept string of islands, of which Streymoy is the largest. And that particular ocean rock hosts one of the oldest timber-built houses anywhere in the world: Kirkjubøargarður in Kirkjubøur village. Don’t be put off by its tongue-twisting title, though, because this is a property well worth knowing about.

First off, the Kirkjubøargarður farmhouse dates back to the 11th century. That makes it roughly 1,000 years old! And the building is steeped in history. Local folklore has it that the property was constructed entirely from driftwood that had landed up on the beaches of Streymoy. The fact that no trees grow on the Faroes lends credence to the story. A family known as the Paturssons lives in the house nowadays... and they’ve apparently done so for over 400 years!

17. Maison de Jeanne, Sévérac-d’Aveyron, France – 13th century

Wander through the winding alleys of the hamlet of Sévérac-d’Aveyron and you’ll come across this charming home. The 13th-century Maison de Jeanne takes its title from its earliest known occupant, an artist named Jeanne. And though this medieval dwelling might look on the verge of collapse, eight centuries say it’s stood the test of time.

Yes, the timber-framed house has stood proud for several hundred years, despite being built from cob – a mixture of straw and earth. Its higgledy-piggledy structure actually has a purpose, too. Back when it was built, homes were taxed according to the area size of the ground floor only. Clearly, then, it made absolute sense for the original builders to save on cash by creating more space on the upper floors!

16. Sana’a, Yemen – pre-11th century

These remarkably handsome homes were built before the 11th century in the city of Sana’a in Yemen. That country lies on the southwest extremity of the Arabian Peninsula and overlooks the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. UNESCO notes that there are some 6,000 of these stylish dwellings which, unsurprisingly, are classed by the organization as a World Heritage Site.

UNESCO describes the dwellings as “strikingly decorated with geometric patterns.” And we think that just about sums it up! But what are these curious buildings made of? Well, the ground floor rooms of the homes are constructed from stone, while the towers were formed from “rammed earth and burnt brick.” Whatever the materials, there’s just no denying it: Sana’a is truly stunning.

15. Fairbanks House, Dedham, Massachusetts – 1641

The Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts, lays claim to being the oldest timber-framed house in North America. It takes its name from Jonathan and Grace Fairbanks, who landed on the shores of Massachusetts in 1633. The couple brought six children with them, so a substantial house was a must. And though the property still looks remarkably fresh and well-maintained, it was probably completed way back in 1641.

After setting up shop in Massachusetts, the Fairbanks family made a good living from farming. Jonathan’s skilled trade – the manufacture of spinning wheels – brought in some extra cash, too. The home passed on through generations of the family until 1904 when the last of the breed to live there – Rebecca – finally moved out. Ever since, a Fairbanks family trust has operated the home as a museum.

14. Ca’ da Mosto, Venice, Italy – 13th century

The word “quaint” could have been invented to describe this crumbling-yet-elegant 13th-century mansion in Venice, Italy. If we wanted to categorize the property in more technical terms, though, we might describe it as a Veneto-Byzantine palazzo. And while its iconic canalside location enhances its beauty, that’s also the reason the house is currently abandoned! The lower floor became a victim of rising sea levels some years ago, you see, and now remains permanently flooded.

Over the years, the house has had its share of eminent residents and family feuds. The famed explorer Alvise Ca’ da Mosto was born there in 1432, for example. Some years later, one of his descendants – Chiara da Mosto – apparently had an epic falling out with the family. Their differences were so great, in fact, that she gave the house away to her second husband’s nephew! This wealthy man apparently had houses to spare, so he turned it into a rental property and hotel.

13. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado – 12th and 13th centuries

The Cliff Palace and adjacent homes in Colorado’s spectacular Mesa Verde National Park are thought to have been built between 1190 and 1270. That means they took several decades to complete! And it’s no wonder, seeing as the structures were melded into the steep cliffs that envelope them. Their builders – an ancient Native American peoples known as the Ancestral Puebloans – certainly knew how to make the most of their environment.

Yet an unsettling mystery surrounds these canyon dwellings. The Puebloans apparently lived at Mesa Verde for some 700 years and completed these sophisticated buildings. Then in the late 13th century, the people abandoned their magnificent handiwork. Why, though? Well, experts cite a variety of possible factors. These range from overpopulation to climate change and war, though a neat answer is yet to be pinned down.

12. Traquair House, Peebles, Scotland – 1107

Traquair House – a few miles from the town of Peebles in the Scottish Borders – dates back to at least 1107. And in its first incarnation, it was a royal hunting lodge. According to the home’s official website, monarchs and their attendants used it as a base from which to hunt bears, wolves and wild boar. It seems the dense woodlands of the nearby Ettrick Forest offered excellent sport at that time.

When the Wars of Independence between Scotland and England erupted in 1286, Traquair was repurposed into a castle. The huge property made a reliable stronghold as bitter battles raged across the borderlands. Things eventually simmered down, though, and by the 15th century the building had taken on the role of a family home. In 1491 James Stuart became the first Laird of Traquair and his descendants still live there to this day.

11. Henry Whitfield House, Guilford, Connecticut – 1639

This rather austere stone-built dwelling, complete with duel chimneys and mullioned windows, has an undeniably stark beauty. Named after the English Puritan who built it, the Henry Whitfield House dates back to the 17th century. The Reverend Whitfield and his family settled in an unassuming patch of Connecticut back in 1639, you see. They named the area Guilford and swiftly set about building themselves this home.

The Whitfields built the property to last, too. The dwelling was constructed from rugged granite blocks and served as a defensive structure as well as a family home. It’s now the oldest stone-built house in New England and is still standing nearly 400 years later! The building has had some assistance over the years, though. The property was extensively restored early in the 20th century, and it now operates as a museum.

10. Meymand, Kerman Province, Iran – 2,000 to 3,000 years old

Here, we have a curious community of cave dwellings in the village of Meymand – a mountainous settlement in the Kerman Province of Iran. Villagers actually still live there during the bitter winter months, and in the summer they reside on higher land tending to their herds. The exact age of the settlement is disputed, but some claim it’s existed for roughly 12,000 years. That takes it right back to the Stone Age!

These curious dwellings are hewn from bare rock, which sounds like a tricky task at the best of times. But legend has it that the original builders constructed them while intoxicated! Some assert that the name Meymand – which pre-dates the abstemious Islamic era – derives from “may” meaning wine and “mand” which translates as drunk. In any case, UNESCO has recognized these unique homes with World Heritage Site status.

9. Nicolas Flamel House, Paris, France – 1407

You’ll find this historic home at 51 Rue de Montmorency – about a 20-minute walk from Notre Dame in Paris. And if you look closely at the exterior of the house, you might notice that it’s adorned with a row of mysterious symbols. That’s entirely appropriate since its builder, Nicolas Flamel, was a renowned alchemist. Alchemy was the mysterious medieval dark art that claimed base metal could be converted to gold.

Since alchemy smacks of something close to wizardry, it comes as no surprise that there’s a Harry Potter connection. In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Flamel’s name is used as the title of chapter 13. If you want to know more you’ll need to read the book! In the meantime, if you happen to be in Paris you can dine at Flamel’s former home since it’s now a restaurant.

8. Kandovan, Iran – 15th century

Set in the mountainous north of Iran, the extraordinary village of Kandovan dates back some eight centuries. Yes, the oldest of these curious caves were carved into the bare rock over 700 years ago! And there’s a good reason why Kandovan’s rock faces appear as if they’re almost melting. The formations that the homes are hewn from are said to be the result of a volcanic eruption several thousand years ago.

Troglodyte is the correct word for a cave dweller, but the history of the Kandovans is something of a mystery. According to the Tehran Times, the original villagers may have been refugees fleeing the invading Mongol hordes in the Middle Ages. Today, the homes extend for between two and four stories with lower floors often reserved for livestock.

7. Jarlshof wheelhouses, Mainland, Shetland Islands, Scotland – Iron Age

This ancient Scottish settlement was first inhabited some 4,700 years ago. But no, it wasn’t built by the Flintstones! The property was actually constructed by the first settlers of Scotland’s Shetland Islands. And as you can see, they used the dry stone method – stacking stones without adding mortar. Typical of the Iron Age, wheelhouses of this ilk can be found in various sites across northern Scotland.

Mainland, the largest island of the Shetlands, hosts three other such circular homes at the celebrated Jarlshof site. This particular settlement was occupied right up until the 17th century before it was deserted, left to disappear into the earth. Thankfully, though, a severe storm in the late-19th century uncovered the properties once again. That means you can go and bask in their beauty if you ever find yourself in the Shetland Islands.

6. 41 Cloth Fair, London, U.K. – 1614

The house at 41 Cloth Fair in east London’s Farringdon district is a building with a truly astounding history. For starters, it was the only residence to survive the flames of the 1666 Great Fire of London. It also stood strong through the Blitz of WWII, even though German bombers destroyed countless nearby properties. So, who constructed this seriously sturdy dwelling?

Well, the resilient residence was built by one Henry Rich. But his story isn’t quite as inspiring as that of his home. The poor man came to a sticky end in 1649, you see, when he was beheaded after picking the wrong side in England’s Civil War. His house most definitely outlived him, then. And though there were plans to demolish it in 1929, it luckily escaped the developers’ bulldozer. That seems to have been a wise decision, too, since a 2017 estimate valued the four-bedroom dwelling at more than $7.5 million.

5. The Aliaga House, Lima, Peru – ca. 1535

Conquistador Francisco Pizarro conquered Peru for the Spanish crown in the years running up to 1535. He founded a new city there – Lima, which is now the nation’s capital – and gave a parcel of land to his trusted lieutenant, Captain Jerónimo de Aliaga y Ramírez. The latter built this dazzling house there – next to the Government Palace of the time – and his descendants live in it to this day.

According to Time magazine, it’s the oldest house in all of the Americas... though countless others would dispute that claim! Nevertheless, it’s a beauty to behold. The interior of the home features splendid decorations and works of art amassed by 18 generations of the Aliaga family. So, you’re ever in Lima, take a tour of this magnificent house and savor its enduring opulence.

4. Tudor House, Margate, U.K. – 1525

Margate is a seaside town on the southeast English coast in the county of Kent. It’s got everything you’d expect from a small British beach resort – from ice cream parlors to seafood stores. But just a short stroll from the coast, on a typical residential street, sits something quite out of the ordinary: an impeccably preserved 500-year-old Tudor house.

Margate’s Tudor House started life as a farmer’s home, and it’s had some curious occupants over the years. According to the website Visit Thanet, these have included Flemish weavers, master mariners and shoemakers – or cordwainers as they used to be called. It was almost lost to demolition in the 1930s but an eagle-eyed local spotted the characteristic Tudor beams. The town’s mayor, Claude Hosking, then footed the bill for a complete restoration in the 1950s. What a lucky escape!

3. The Bummerlhaus, Steyr an der Enns, Austria – 13th century

Set in a broad, cobbled plaza and surrounded by other historic buildings, the Bummerlhaus is a delightfully charming residence. And parts of it date back to the 13th century! The building is set in the Austrian city of Steyr an der Enns, which lies at the confluence of two rivers: the Enns and the Steyr, of course. The city’s history goes back to the 10th century and in medieval times it was a center for the iron industry.

According to the website Route You, the Bummerlhaus was first mentioned in documents in about 1450. As well as being fantastically old, it’s also a prime example of late Gothic architecture. In fact, the property is said to be one of the finest of its style and era anywhere in Austria. You can thank its façade for that accolade, given its glorious stone carvings and blind arches.

2. Medieval house, Vyborg, Russia – 1583

This house in the Russian city of Vyborg might look quaint, but it’s more than just a quirky old property. Its walls are tremendously thick, you see, suggesting that it could have once been a defensive fortress as well as an everyday family home. And when it was constructed in the late-16th century, Vyborg – in the far west of Russia near the modern border with Finland – was actually occupied by Swedes.

The house has been much altered over the centuries, of course, but it’s still thought to be the oldest residence anywhere in Russia. And according to the English Russia website, it’s still occupied to this day. In fact, it’s thought that not one, but two families call this dwelling home! The historic house was renovated in the 1960s so the interior is no doubt less dilapidated than the exterior.

1. Cave homes, Matera, Italy – 9,000 years old

These homes in the Italian city of Matera are dug into cliff-side caves, and there has been human occupation here for a staggering 9,000 years. Yes, evidence suggests that people have occupied these dwellings since as far back as the Paleolithic era! And since then, humans have continued to excavate deeper and deeper into the rock – expanding their homes.

Charming though they appear, these homes and their residents haven’t always had an easy time of things. Back in the 1950s the dwellings were classified as slums, with many of the occupants living in dire poverty. Thankfully, things have been transformed in recent years. Some of the homes are even well-appointed hotel rooms these days. And as urban planner Antonio Nicoletti pointed out to Smithsonian magazine in 2014, “Where else can you now sleep in a room that was first occupied 9,000 years ago?”

But properties aren’t always as charming and quaint as these historic homes. In fact, people around the globe live in residences offering nothing but danger and horror! How about a house set in the middle of a highway? Or one hanging off the side of a mountain? Or another set in the extreme conditions of an Antarctic ice shelf? Yep, the houses coming up have locations that fascinate and terrify – and there’s even one in North Carolina...

20. Solvay Hut, The Matterhorn, Switzerland

The Solvay Hut is a flimsy-looking timber structure perched on a ledge on the sheer face of the famous Matterhorn in Switzerland. Built in 1915, it’s the highest structure on the mountain. At an altitude of about 13,000 feet, the Solvay Hut is some 1,500 feet below the Matterhorn summit. The shack is an emergency refuge for mountaineers and can accommodate up to 10 people at a pinch.

Born in 1838, Ernest Solvay was a Belgian industrialist who was also a keen climber. He donated the money to build the Matterhorn’s Hörnli Hut, 2,400 feet below the one named after him. In 1976 the Solvay Hut was updated with the addition of an emergency telephone. But as you’ll find if you ever spend a night there after getting into difficulties on the Matterhorn, there’s little else in the way of facilities.

19. Elliðaey Island, Iceland

Elliðaey is one of the Vestmannaeyjar group of islands, which lie in the North Atlantic off the south coast of Iceland. The tiny green spot of land has just one house, and it lacks both electricity and running water. So if it’s solitude you crave, then this is the place to head for. Bizarre stories have swirled around this splendidly isolated property. One was that Icelandic songstress Björk owned the house. A romantic idea – but utterly false.

Another unlikely tale was that a billionaire had bought Elliðaey Island as a refuge in the event of a zombie apocalypse. But there’s no truth in that, either. In December 2020 the Daily Mirror revealed the rather less dramatic, although still weird, truth about the house and island. Although inhabited up until the 1930s, the island has no permanent residents today. But it is visited by puffin hunters each year, and they stay in the lonely house while they go about their business.

18. Volcano House, California

Fancy living at the top of a volcano in a home perched 150 feet above the ground? Well, TV personality Huell Howser did, so he commissioned architect Harold J. Bissner, Jr. to build the Volcano House in 1968. The house is set on the edge of California’s Newberry Springs, close by the dunes of the Devil’s Playground in the Mojave Desert.

The house perches atop the cone-shaped volcanic outcrop. To reach it, you drive up a spiral roadway that runs around the cinder rock. The circular configuration of the dome-shaped dwelling gives sublime all-round views of the surrounding desert and mountains. You just have to hope that the volcano is definitely dormant. Otherwise, things could get distinctly uncomfortable.

17. Just Room Enough Island, Thousand Islands

Just Room Enough Island, also called Hub Island, is one the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River, near New York’s Alexandria Bay. The Just Room Enough moniker is entirely accurate: this American islet is tiny. Much too small, you’d think, to have a house on it. But that is just what there is.

As Andrea Sachs put it in a 2010 piece for The Washington Post, “The speck of land squeezes a house and a couple of wrought-iron benches pushed hard up against the shingles onto its banks. One misstep and you’re swimming.” The Sizeland family built the house and planted a single tree on the island in the 1950s. Apparently, they were hoping for an isolated hideaway. But their plan was spoiled by the huge numbers who came to gawp at their strange home.

16. Holy Trinity Monastery, Meteora, Greece

The Holy Trinity Monastery could hardly be better placed for monks wishing to dedicate their lives to devotional prayer and spiritual contemplation. This extraordinary UNESCO-listed structure is located just outside the town of Meteora in central Greece. The monastery is improbably perched on an inaccessible peak which is surrounded by soaring, otherworldly rock formations.

A monk called Dometius established the Holy Trinity Monastery – known to Greeks as Agia Triada – in the 15th century. The only way up to the building is via 140 steps carved into the unyielding rock face – hot work in the Greek high summer. If you’re a James Bond fan, you may well recognize Agia Triada. It was used as a location in the 1981 movie For Your Eyes Only.

15. Teahouse On The Tree, Japan

This whimsical-looking structure is billed as a teahouse. Japanese architect Terunobu Fujimori designed the Teahouse on the Tree, and it was constructed in 2004. It’s located in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture and sits on a hill called Chino. Up to six people can enjoy the tea ceremony in it as they sit on the tatami mats that furnish the tiny house. Attached to a chestnut tree, the teahouse is about 30 feet tall to the top of its chimney, which serves as a fireplace where the tea is prepared.

In fact, this is not the only extraordinary teahouse that Fujimori has designed: there’s one in Germany, two more near the one pictured here and others elsewhere. Speaking to Wallpaper* magazine in September 2020, Fujimori explained, “When designing teahouse architecture, you have to create a separate world that is distinct from everyday life. The key is to let something float above the ground.”

14. Korowai Tree House, West Papua, Indonesia

The Korowai people live in the inaccessible jungles of Indonesia’s West Papua and only came into contact with the outside world as recently as the 1970s. According to a 2006 article in the Smithsonian magazine, they were one of the last tribes anywhere in the world known to practice cannibalism. It’s a controversial claim, with some anthropologists asserting that this gruesome custom is many years in the past.

The Korowai’s lofty wooden houses, built atop towering trees, look like frighteningly flimsy and high-risk homes. But the high-altitude dwellings do have some entirely practical qualities, such as avoiding the hordes of mosquitoes below. The structures perch more than 100 feet above the ground at the top of wanbom or banyan trees and can accommodate families with as many as 12 members.

13. The Lagangarbh Hut, Scottish Highlands

It’s called the Lagangarbh Hut, but this remote stone-built Scottish hideaway is more like a small cottage. The house is set close to the River Coupall, which runs through the magnificent, dark hillsides of Glen Coe. The National Trust for Scotland has owned the property since 1946 and rents it out. Surprisingly, its four rooms can sleep up to 20 people – but don’t expect the lap of luxury or much in the way of privacy!

The hut was once the home to the MacDonald family – but Glen Coe is a mournful place for them now. In February 1692 the clan hosted a group of Campbells there, freely giving them traditional Highland hospitality. Then one night the guests turned against the MacDonalds, massacring 38 men, women and children. Others of the clan escaped across the heather through a blinding Highland blizzard.

12. The HemLoft, Whistler Forest, Canada

The Whistler Forest is a nature reserve in British Columbia, Canada. It’s a wild place of mountains, forests and lakes. And it’s also home to various lodges and hotels that cater to hikers and winter sports fans. The land is publically owned – and that means you can’t just decide to build yourself a home there.

But Joel Allen did it anyway. Working in secret, he built himself an incredible treehouse in the forest. He constructed his egg-shaped timber dwelling high in the trees using his impressive carpentry skills. And building a home off the ground is probably quite a good idea in an area that’s famous for its black bear population.

11. Sanctuary, North Carolina

This place looks like it’s clinging to the hillside using little more than hopes and prayers. Yet the “Sanctuary” treehouse in Asheville, North Carolina, is actually a custom-made affair that isn’t going to tumble into a ravine any time soon. People who’ve stayed there have even called it the perfect escape to unplug from a moving-too-fast world.

Yes, you read that right! This luxury treehouse is an Airbnb where up to four guests are welcome to stay – any time they can get a reservation. But while Sanctuary certainly gives off fairy-tale vibes, Asheville is also home to all manner of dangerous wildlife. We’re talking black bears, alligators, copperheads... So be sure to stay alert!

10. Alpine shelter, Slovenia

This futuristic Alpine shelter enjoys a spectacular position at the foot of Skuta Mountain in Slovenia. Building it required the logistical muscle of the Slovenian Army, with soldiers airlifting the construction materials to the site. The building is wrapped in concrete, and the glass gables afford superb views across the mountainous landscape.

Students from Harvard working with Slovenian architects OFIS came up with the design. Their creation is specifically aimed at withstanding the harsh winter conditions in the high peaks of Slovenia’s Kamnik Alps. Once the structure had been prefabricated off-site in three sections, these were flown in by helicopter and assembled by 60 volunteers in a single day. Now, up to eight mountaineers can shelter in the building.

9. Fallingwater, Pennsylvania

One of America’s best-known architects, Frank Lloyd Wright, designed this breathtaking house perched on a wooded hillside. Eric Kaufman was the man who commissioned the architect, and the building was completed in 1938. Its truly outstanding feature is the fact that it actually stands above a 30-foot waterfall – hence the name Fallingwater.

Built as a holiday home for the Kaufman family, the modernist house is set among the idyllic glades of Pennsylvania’s Bear Run Nature Reserve. Consisting of three stories, each floor is cantilevered from the hillside. A series of balconies wrought from reinforced concrete extend over the waterfall, too. The plan was for the house to sit naturally in its surroundings. There’s even a large natural rock protruding into the living room.

8. Katskhi Pillar, Katskhi, Georgia

The Katskhi Pillar is set in Georgia – the European nation, not the U.S. state. This 130-foot natural limestone column supports a truly implausible looking manmade structure: a church built between the sixth and eighth centuries. The sacred building is dedicated to a monk, Maximus the Confessor. Maximus is considered the leading theologian in Byzantium in the seventh century.

The tiny church has three monk’s cells, a burial vault and, perhaps surprisingly, a wine cellar. To this day, monks climb a hair-raising metal ladder that runs up the side of the rock formation to the church for daily worship. Father Maxime Qavtaradze was the final monk to actually live atop the Katskhi Pillar, which he did for some 20 years until 2015.

7. Drina River, Serbia

This house – set in the River Drina where it forms the border between Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina – dates back to 1968. In that year, a group of swimmers decided that the rock the home was eventually built on was a good place to chill out. But the rock lacked a certain something: a house! So the water sports enthusiasts set about building one, undeterred by the obvious disadvantages of the site.

Using boats and kayaks, the intrepid band transported all the timber and other building materials piece by piece to the middle of the Drina. For keen swimmers, this house is a dream come true. Wake up in the morning and dive straight into the river for an exhilarating swim. Although it has to be said that the potential dangers of storms and flooding are all too apparent.

6. Skylodge, Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru

When it comes to accommodation, there can be few more thrilling, or terrifying, places than Skylodge. The four transparent pods that make up Skylodge hang from the side of a mountain cliff 1,300 feet above the floor of Peru’s Sacred Valley of Cusco. The only way to get there is to climb, which will take you around 90 minutes – assuming you know what you’re doing.

Three of the capsules are sleeping accommodations – they even have private bathrooms – and the fourth larger one houses the kitchen and dining area. It’s worth pointing out that the only way to get to your breakfast is to climb across the rock face to the dining room when you wake up in the morning. A truly invigorating start to your day!

5. Casa do Penedo, Portugal

It’s easy to see why some have described this property as a “real-life Flintstones house.” The Casa do Penedo – house of stone – actually only dates back to the 1970s rather than to Hanna-Barbera’s fictionalized Stone Age. Nevertheless, it’s an intriguing structure, taking full advantage of natural features in northern Portugal’s rugged Fafe Mountains.

The eccentric dwelling, set at an altitude of some 2,600 feet, is sandwiched between four massive boulders. It took two years to build and was completed in 1974, when it was used for a time as a holiday home. Now, it serves as a small museum. And it’s certainly well defended. The place is nestled between huge granite rocks, and its windows and doors are said to be bulletproof.

4. Halley VI Antarctic Research Station, Brunt Ice Shelf, Caird Coast

Living in the Antarctic exposes humans to some of the most extreme environmental conditions anywhere on the planet. And that’s why nobody lives there permanently. But each year scientists travel to this hostile region for months of research. This large red capsule, part of the Halley VI Antarctic Research Station, is the place they call home in the Antarctic. It’s located on the Brunt Ice Shelf on the Caird Coast.

The entire research station, composed of eight modules, can be hauled over the ice by tractors. This is just what happened in 2017 when a large unstable chasm in the nearby ice threatened the safety of the scientists and support staff. Despite the 14-mile relocation, the station has not operated during the winter season since. The precarious condition of the ice near the station makes over-wintering just too risky.

3. Nail House, Wenling, China

“Nail house” is the term given to homes that are situated in the middle of urban or highway developments in China. What happens is that property owners refuse to sell to the authorities – so large-scale construction projects proceed around the stubborn residents. This nail house is in the Chinese city of Wenling in Zhejiang Province.

As you can see, this particular nail house sits right in the middle of a freshly built freeway. The occupants of the home were Luo Baogen, a duck farmer, and his wife, both in their 60s. The local government had offered them $41,300 to move, but they’d spurned the deal. Eventually, after prolonged negotiations, Baogen agreed to move, and the house was finally demolished in December 2012.

2. Old Mill of Vernon, France

Clinging to the remains of an ancient and mostly demolished bridge, this picturesque property looks just about ready to plunge into the river below. The Old Mill of Vernon sits above the River Seine, about 50 miles downriver from the French capital, Paris. It was built in the 16th century atop a 12th-century bridge. At one time, there were five mills driven by the river waters.

A flood in 1651 so damaged the bridge that it was no longer usable. In the 19th century, when a new bridge was built just upstream, all that remained of the original bridge was the part that still supports the Old Mill. Yet the ancient building was almost lost thanks to damage during World War II fighting. But the good folk of Vernon rallied around and found the funds to restore their precious mill.

1. Hanging Monastery of Mount Heng, China

This unlikely looking structure cleaves to a cliff about 250 feet above the ground on the sheer face of Mount Hen in China’s Shanxi Province. The Hanging Monastery, also known as the Xuankong Temple, might look ready to crash to the ground – but it dates back more than 15 centuries.

The structure, built in 491, is just over 100 feet long and includes two three-story pavilions and a 30-foot bridge. It’s said that the building was started by a single monk, Liao Ran, although others later came along to help with the construction. The altitude of the monastery means it sits in glorious silence. These are ideal conditions for monks seeking undisturbed contemplation and meditation.