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Cities To Spark Your Creativity

29 August 2022

Now that the pandemic measures have been almost entirely lifted, many of us are finally looking to take a long-overdue break away. And after spending such a long time cooped up, a splash of creativity is something we could all do with!

Why not hit two birds with one stone and use your next trip abroad as an opportunity to reignite your imagination and spark creativity? Here is a collection of the top cities to visit in Europe to dust off the mental cobwebs and get those creative juices flowing!

1. Florence, Italy

The first stop for most people on a trip to Italy tends to be Rome, Pompei, or Venice. But, for many centuries, Florence was known around the world as the centre of Italian art and culture - long before “Italy” as a country even existed. Throughout the mediaeval period, Florence was one of Europe’s wealthiest trade centres, and the city flourished as an artistic hub during the Renaissance. Wealth accumulated through trade and banking allowed rich mercantile families to sponsor the work of masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael, and Michaelangelo. This artistic legacy continues on up to the present day, as Florence is home to the iconic Uffizi Museum and remains the go-to destination for students of fine art.

2. Basel, Switzerland

Situated on the banks of the river Rhine, where France, Germany, and Switzerland meet, Basel serves as Switzerland’s unofficial cultural capital. Basel is known all around the world for its contemporary galleries and exhibitions, although the crown jewel of its art scene is most certainly Art Basel. Art Basel is an annual fair of contemporary art that brings together almost 300 galleries from around the world to showcase the cutting edge of the world’s art.

3. Bilbao, Spain

Madrid is undoubtedly the art capital of Spain, but far from the be all and end all of what the Spanish art scene has to offer. Unbeknownst to many, Bilbao is a thriving hub of contemporary art. Situated in the northern Basque Country, Bilbao draws in a crowd looking for something more modern than what Madrid has to offer.

Known as a hotspot for lovers of contemporary art and modernist architecture, Bilbao plays host to one of the five Guggenheim Museums. This in itself is enough reason to visit the biggest city in the Basque region - the museum is home to a phenomenal permanent collection and a constant rotation of temporary exhibitions from around the world. Beyond the Guggenheim, Bilbao’s art district alone boasts over 30 museums, so you’re guaranteed never to grow bored.

4. Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey, is a truly one-of-a-kind place to visit. Serving as the border between the East and the West, it should come as no surprise that Istanbul’s cultural melting pot offers ample fuel for creativity. Visitors to Istanbul can experience the richness of both Occidental and Oriental culture, as the city boasts everything from traditional Turkish and Islamic art to contemporary and modernist museums. Each year, Istanbul plays host to the “Contemporary Istanbul” art fair, which foregrounds both Turkish and international artists leading the avant-garde of the art world.

5. Lisbon, Portugal

In recent years, Lisbon has shot to popularity as a hub for young creatives to flock to. Owing to its open-minded atmosphere and relatively lower prices compared to other European capitals, Lisbon is teeming with both established and up-and-coming artists. Upon arrival, it's impossible to ignore the role that art plays in giving the city its character. The streets are covered in street art that is, in itself, worth a visit.

However, the city is host to a fabulous array of museums both traditional and contemporary. Make sure to visit the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea, Museu Nacional dos Coches, and the trendy Hangar space - to see the full range of what Lisbon has to offer.

6. Berlin, Germany

The German capital has historically been known for its central role in many of the 20th century’s most pivotal political events - from the end of World War II to the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, the city’s tumultuous past has given way to a thriving and alternative cultural scene.

A total melting pot, Berlin is home to its native German population as well as constant waves of immigration from every corner of the world. All these different perspectives come together to form a city where it truly feels like anything is possible. Walking the streets of trendy Kreuzberg, you will be exposed to alternative art hubs and reclaimed cultural spaces, whereas Charlottenburg across town feels more like the boulevards of Paris. The district of Friedrichshain is known around the world for its industrial spaces and music venues, whereas corners of Neukölln feel more like Istanbul than Germany! No matter your taste, Berlin is a city sure to spark your creativity.

Give yourself the break you deserve and visit one of these European art hubs the next chance you get!