World's best cities for street art
One of the most worthwhile activities to do as a traveller is slip on your sneakers and wander the streets. Let yourself get lost, take a few wrong turns, soak up the atmosphere of a place, and in doing so you might come across some amazing urban art. Street art is unique everywhere, and is usually a good illustrator of the soul of a city. The art form has risen from the lowly ranks of illegal vandalism, and skyrocketed to be one of the coolest artistic expressions around. And one of the best things about it is you no longer have to spend the day stuck inside the static environment of an art gallery when attempting to appreciate a city’s creative output.
There are so many places throughout the world that showcase an awesome range of al fresco art so I have had to be quite discerning to shortlist a few top notch notables:
Since the 90s, Brick Lane in East London has been known as a happening art and fashion spot. The long, winding street, and many of the streets offshooting from it, display some awe-inspiring and epic street art. I went on a walking graffiti tour on a Saturday morning, and as I wandered around getting the background story to this famous street, and its connection to the art form, artists were dotted along the walls, paint smears on their clothes, spraying their way to creative harmony. A walking tour of this area is a definite must at the top of the list of things to do in London, if this kind of thing is your bag. And the main part of Brick Lane is situated in the Bangladesh area of London so you can also grab yourself a good curry whilst there.
Bit of a no brainer really. Not only do you have the quintessential East Side Gallery taking its place along 1.3 kilometres of the Berlin Wall, with such iconic images as the one depicting Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev giving a big ol smooch to East German president Erich Honecker, you also have an artistic playground of activity humming throughout the whole city. It’s definitely somewhat of a street art mecca, with pieces taking up entire walls of buildings, some going four storeys high. If you book yourself in for a Berlin street art tour make sure to clear your day as you will need every second of it to explore all the magnificent gems of this city.
If you happen to be heading to Berlin in October make sure to check out the Festival of Lights. This annual festival highlights another style of street art known as projection bombing. For a week nothing is safe from colourful projection lights. The whole city glows: the TV Tower, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, anything with a surface, all beautifully illuminated in a colourful array of lights, and quirky images, such as love hearts or musical notation. This enchanting spectacle is well worth seeing.
Got a thang for the visual?
An honorary note for Germany has to be Dresden. I would refer to it as an intimate Berlin. Smaller by far, but just as quirky and interesting. Take a wander around the streets of the Neustadt district, and there is plenty of extraordinary street art to spy. And after all that walking you can pop into one of the trendy bars in the area to enjoy a tipple of mulled wine.
San Francisco, U.S
San Fran has always been known as a cultural hub of America so it is no wonder they have an adventurous attitude towards urban art. For some suberbly rendered murals check out Clarion Alley, a well known area for art and community activity. However, if you would prefer to get involved yourself , try the 1AM Gallery. Not only do they take you on a tour of the best street art haunts in the SoMA neighbourhood, they also give you a go at creating your very own street art masterpiece.
For those with a budget that doesn’t stretch as far as Europe or America, there is plenty of opportunity for urban art touring in our own backyard. By far the coolest city in Australia, it’s no wonder that Melbourne has an amazing array of street art. Take some time to amble around the myriad of alleys throughout the city, and surrounding suburbs, and you will come across oodles of fine talent. A few of the best spots to venture are Hosier Lane, Union Lane and Yarra Place.
I like to view street art in terms of the layers of an onion: you’re never going to really know what’s underneath a city until you begin looking… so pull on your sneakers, or get on your bike, and start exploring now!
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