In 2005 UNESCO started the Global Alliance’s Creative Cities Network to recognise cities that are centres for excellence in all manner of creative arts. There are only 28 cities at present but the list is sure to expand in the future. Here are some of the cultural cities we want to visit – if you like the arts then they’re bound to be right up your street.
UNESCO City of Craft and Folk Art: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
A melting pot of Native Indian and Spanish culture, more recently a thriving arts scene has emerged to add to the cultural attractions. For Native American art head to the “Portal” in front of the Palace of the Governors where you can be sure of authentic items such a jewellery and pottery. If you’re after something a little more highbrow from the oldest settlers then seek out the antique shops around the Plaza. For Anglo-centric art head to the numerous galleries on Canyon Road.
UNESCO City of Design: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires has long been recognised as a European-centric jewel in South America, boasting a great mix of the two cultures. To fully understand the city you need to immerse yourself in all aspects of life here as well as visiting the varied districts. Try the tango and head to a Gaucho party, to see the lifestyle of the Argentinian Cowboys. Seek out Palermo in the north to visit the lakes and parks, and head to the port in the daytime for the best of Argentinian street life. Also don’t miss the Caminito pedestrian area, packed full of arts and crafts.
UNESCO City of Gastronomy: Chengdu, China
Known as the ‘Land of Milk and Honey’, the area is also famous for its Sechuan style cookery. Novices beware, it can get quite spicy, so be sure to order a búyàolà dish (non-spicy) or some sweetened milk to quell the almost inevitable fire. Spicy dragon prawns, duck neck and BangBang chicken are amongst the local delicacies. In between eating sessions head to Tianfu Square, Chengdu University Museum and the Sichuan Opera for a look at the cultural side of the city. Wenshu Temple and Quingyang Temple are also worth a visit if you’re looking to walk off some overindulgence!
UNESCO City of Literature: Dublin, Ireland
by Trinity Digital Exhibition
Best known for the vast quantities of Guinness most UK travellers imbibe when they make the short flight to Dublin across the Irish Sea, the city also boasts a literary side. The Chester Beatty Library is the place to start for bibliophiles, as it contains a large selection of early texts and manuscripts. Dublin Writers Museum offers a more modern take on the idea, focussing on more recent literary inhabitants. Round off the adventures with a trip to Old Trinity College Library to see the Book of Kells, a beautifully illustrated biblical text dating to 800 AD.
UNESCO City of Music: Seville, Spain
The beautiful streets of Seville are home to flamenco, the flamboyant and exciting style of music and dance that has become ever more popular with tourists in recent years. The centrepiece is the Museo del Baile Flamenco, which boasts an extensive collection of artefacts and also offers guitar and dance lessons, plus regular shows of the art form. Head to El Arinal and the Culture Centre, where you will also find performances on a fairly regular basis. Seville has more bars and clubs than you can shake a stick at so be sure to enjoy a few evenings out with the vibrant local music and culture.
top image: Indianapolis Museum of Art by hibino