I’m always intrigued by windows when I travel. I suppose that since I grew up in Southern California—where the suburban tract homes all had plain, boring, aluminum sliding windows—I became fascinated by ones that were colorful and architecturally interesting. I especially like casement windows that open inward, windows with shutters to keep out the light and heat, and balconies with detailed cast-iron balustrades. Of course, having a nice view from the window doesn’t hurt either.
Here’s a photo essay of some of my favorite windows I’ve encountered on my travels around the world:
The window above is in Varenna, Italy on the banks of picturesque Lake Como. The town is absolutely stunning; it’s no wonder that it’s drawn visitors from the bustle of nearby Milan for centuries. Roses, ivy, and wisteria creeping up the sides of buildings are a common sight, making everywhere look pretty as a postcard.
This window was in the historic city center of Angra do Heroísmo, on the Azorean island of Terceira, Portugal. My dad and I were there on the 475th anniversary of the founding of the city so everything was freshly painted and looked practically brand new. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its beauty, historical and cultural significance.
Not only is Spain famous for flamenco dancing, bullfighting, and tapas bars; it’s also renowned for having beautiful and intricate architecture. This photo is of a window in Segovia, Spain. I really liked the pattern and texture of the building as well as the color from the green roll-up shade used for keeping out the hot Spanish sun. Olé!
Here’s another window from the Azores, but this one was in Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel. The archipelago is volcanic in origin so the use of basalt (lava rock) is very common in construction and ornamentation. I really loved the stark contrast between the black basalt and the whitewashed walls of the buildings.
Nothing says “Italy” more than shuttered windows with balconies overflowing with potted flowers! This window faces the famous Piazza Navona in Rome. I can only imagine the gorgeous views of the piazza’s fountains from within this home. Originally a stadium for the ancient Romans, the Piazza Navona has become a very popular gathering place for tourists and locals alike.
The “Old Town” (Altstadt) in Salzburg, Austria is one of the best-preserved city centers featuring baroque architecture in the world. Only a stone throw’s away from the home where Mozart was born, this building faced a farmers’ market where locals could buy fresh produce every day of the week.
The La Boca neighborhood is a popular destination for tourists looking for authentic tango dancing in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Everything is painted with such vibrant colors. To me, these windows looked like artwork in themselves—from the painted shutters, framed by iron bars to the potted flowers and laundry drying on clotheslines.
Key West, Florida is known for its distinctive architecture featuring pastel colors, clapboard wood siding, gingerbread trim, louvered shutters, and covered verandas. Many of the historic buildings date from 1886 to 1912.
Firenze, Italy is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I would definitely agree. I couldn’t believe my luck when I caught the reflection of a bell tower in this window—it almost seems fake! If you look closely, you can just make out the cupola of the city’s famous Duomo too.
This photo was taken at the fanciful Palácio Nacional da Pena in Sintra, Portugal. This window does a great job showcasing the typical blue azulejos (tiles) as well as the Manueline details that are famous in architecture from all around the country.
Ah, Venice! A mélange of Gothic, Byzantine, and Moorish architectural elements give romantic Venice a look all its own. With this window’s hand-blown glass, ornate iron railing, and planter boxes filled with geraniums, you can almost imagine yourself drifting by in a gondola below.
This window is located within the old city walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Part of the coastal Dalmatian region, the city dates back to the 14th century when it was the independent Republic of Ragusa. I’d bet that the glass of the window was blown out in the war during the 1990s, but the strong limestone building withheld the onslaught.
Barcelona, Spain is famous for its architecture (especially when designed by its favorite son, Antoni Gaudí.) While this is just an “ordinary” building, I really loved its collection of windows, each different in style. I would probably say Barcelona is my favorite city in the world and I hope to live there someday.
Thick, whitewashed walls are a very common sight in the arid southern region of Andalucía, Spain. This photo was taken in the old Moorish Quarter of Córdoba. I loved the hand-painted flower pots filled with red geraniums. You don’t get much more “Spanish” than that!
The half-timbered buildings in the Normandy region of France remind me of something out of a fairytale. This photo was taken by my father on their trip to Bayeux, home of the famous 11th century Bayeux Tapestry.
I took this one in the Dalmatian city of Split, Croatia. Notice the arched windows? They are remnants of the time when this part of the world was part of the Venetian Republic.
Nothing says Miami like the gorgeous Art Deco architecture in South Beach. In fact, this neighborhood has the world’s largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the entire world!
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Do you have any interesting photos of windows? I’d love to include some of my readers’ favorites too! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org along with your name (for attribution), your website (if applicable) and a brief caption telling the story behind the photo.
|“If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.
– Tom Peters
Check out my photo essay about Bridges of the World too!