A unique history, magnificent architecture, beautiful art galleries and museums, a flourishing literary scene and a love for music and people is perhaps what makes any place culturally rich. Apart from the buildings, it is an integration of man and nature, of time and people.
Culturally rich cities are timeless, and there are so many reasons that you should visit them. Amidst all the happiness and the culture, you just might end up discovering a whole new side to yourself.
We’ve made a list of 20 cities, across the globe, that enjoy an abundance of culture. In these towns, it is not just about the human-made technology that speaks, but the things around it that have been there speaking of what the city is all about. Take a look:
It would be absolutely unfair not to start this list with the holy city of Varanasi in India. It is the perfect place for anyone who is looking for an exhilarating blend of colors, customs, and traditions. Add to all that, it is also considered to be the holiest place in the world. It is really an amalgamation of diverse cultures and religion. The harmonious blend of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism all come from here. The land is kissed by the Holy River Ganga and is filled with uncountable temples along with bustling markets, ghats, and ashrams. If you love exploring the religious richness, Varanasi is your holy shrine. If you’re here, do not miss the evening Aarti at the Ganga ghat as it is a truly amazing experience; something that you only live once in a lifetime. You can also explore the artistic sarees and classical musicians that add to the divinity of the city.
(Image Couretewsy: Varanasicity.com)
#2. London, England
They say that you’re never going to feel alone in London. It has something to offer to everyone. For the literary minds, sites like Baker Street and Keats’ House are going to be an actual abode. If you’re a performing arts fanatic, you have the English National Opera House and the West End Theatres to take care of your tastes. If you wish to explore the possibilities of contemporary art then you might just feel like home at Earl’s Court, Brixton Academy or the O2 arena. And, for the lovers of Art, the British Museum, National Gallery, and the Royal Academy handsomely cater them. Didn’t we say everyone just fits into London? It is one of those rare culturally vibrant places that has been for a long time a hub for people from across the globe.
(Image Courtesy: Wikipedia)
#3. Rome, Italy
Think culture and perhaps Rome is instant;y going to pop up in your head. Just by taking an average stroll on the streets in the evenings, you can come face to face with the abundance of everything that Rome has on offer. You can admire the classical ruins of the Renaissance era built by the popes. It was the home to master architect Michelangelo and you can find his creations on the streets of Rome. For people who love films, here is a fact: Rome was home to the legendary director Fellini and is also the setting for “La Dolce Vita’ which is considered to be one the greatest classics of European cinema.
(Image Courtesy: Italy)
What do we say about Paris that you already don’t know? If you still want to know then here’s just one thing: the Eiffel Tower. The single most beautiful piece of creation in the world. However, just like the iconic tower, there is so much more art on the streets of Paris that it won’t be wrong to call it the city of art. Paris was the home to many legendary and revolutionary artists in the 19th and 20th century including iconic writers like Baudelaire, Maupassant, and Proust. Paris is also synonymous with jazz music and you’ll find a lot of jazz clubs including the historic Palais Garnier opera house.
(Image Courtesy: iDesignarc)
#5. Jerusalem, Israel
Yes, it is the oldest city in the world but more than that it has been the center for the creation and propagation of religions including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Christians know Jerusalem as the place where Jesus was crucified. For Muslims, it is one of the holiest places as it is here that the Prophet Muhammad ascended from heaven. What more diversity in culture do you expect from a city? For the people who wish to explore more, the Israel Museum contains an excellent collection of Israeli and European art. The mood in the city is extremely holy and people from all religions live here peacefully.
(Image Courtesy: ISRAEL21C)
#6. Florence, Italy
When you think of the era of Renaissance, where humans started creating some wonderful pieces of art and literature, you can’t forget that it was in Florence that Renaissance was born. For a city that gave one of the biggest and most revolutionary eras to the world, you can never doubt the abundance of the culture there. You’ll find breathtaking architecture to enjoy like the Campanile of Giotto and the iconic Duomo of Brunelleschi. Along with all that, there are some of finest art galleries of the world in Florence to explore. The city really breathes great history all around it and it is not hard to see why it made it to our list. You’ll also find Michaelangelo’s David on the streets of Florence.
(Image Courtesy: Flickr.com)
#7. Vienna, Austria
When we say that Paris is the city of Art, we can not forget that Vienna is perhaps the city of music. Do you want to know why? It is because the legendary Mozart was born here. Along with that, it is also the city of Sigmund Freud where the science of psychoanalysis was born. How can we forget the contribution of Freud to modernist art and literature? If you walk around Vienna, you’ll see that the city is all about intellectual music. There are concerts everywhere- in the parks and in beautiful venues like Staatsoper and the Wiener Konzerthaus.
(Image Courtesy: Pinterest)
#8. Istanbul, Turkey
What would you think of a city that straddles in the cultures of Asia and Europe? Istanbul, as many of us might know, is a hotbed and an amalgamation of the culture of two different continents. The city has been home to many iconic civilizations including the Romans. The real beauty of the city, which was called Byzantium at one time, is how it has preserved its identity and history over millennia. The architecture in the city is a reflection of the range of cultures and empires that have inhabited it. For people who love movies, the city is a major center of Turkey’s film industry with films such as Usak (2002) and My Father and My Son (2005) garneringinternational success.
(Image Courtesy: theculturetrip)
#9. New York, USA
For a country that was inhabited by thousands and thousand of immigrants years ago, New York is perhaps the cultural hub of it. It is home to the Broadway circuit and an abode for those who love music and theaters. It is also home to the iconic Lincoln Center for Performing Arts where you can witness some exuberant and breathtaking musical performances. Many people don’t know that New York is the home to musical genres like punk, disco, and the iconic hip-hop as well. For lovers of art, there are hundreds of galleries to explore. If you’re one of them, don’t forget to take a look at the Museum Mile on the Fifth Avenue.
(image Courtesy: nyphil.com)
#10. Kyoto, Japan
To understand how much lies in Kyoto, know this: Kyoto was the capital of imperial Japan for over a thousand years. As a result, it has in itself several museums and extraordinary cultural sites. You’ll find almost all of Japan’s National Treasures on the land of Kyoto including important cultural properties like the galleries dedicated to the history of Kyoto. The Historical Monuments of Kyoto are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has in itself an incredible anthology of Japanese culture and architecture. If you’re in Japan, do not forget to step into the culture-rich land of Kyoto as you’ll only be amazed by the abundance of culture that the land has.
(Image Courtesy: JustinJapan)
#11. Granada, Spain
If you talk about culture in Europe and you don’t mention Granada in Spain’s Andalusia you’re making a huge mistake. The quiet city contains itself the proud remains of its Moorish past. It is the musical and literary city of Spain as it is the city of Lorca, the greatest of Spanish poets there ever was. For music enthusiast, it is a perfect destination to experience something new as a lot of flamenco is played here. You’ll hear it everywhere- in bars and restaurants and even on the streets. A festival is also held in the caves of Sacromonte district for all those who want to be subject to extravagant musical noir. However, with all the serenity and prosperity that Granada boasts of, it's not done here. You’ll find perhaps the finest example of Islamic architecture here in the Alhambra which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
(Image Courtesy: Extra Vagabond)
#12. Shanghai, China
To understand why Shanghai made it on this list here is your piece of knowledge- Shanghai is home to 27 national museums, more than any other city on this list. The charm about these museums is that you can get to the culture of not only Shangajhio but of entire Asia in them. Apart from all these national museums, there are the iconic landmarks like The Bund on the Huangpu and the Yuyuan Gardens. If you wish to explore some of those museums, then the best ones are perhaps the China Art Museum and the Shanghai Museum.
(Image Courtesy: China Daily)
#13. Samarkand, Uzbekistan
UNESCO calls Samarkand as ‘a masterpiece of Islamic cultural creativity.’ If you have a keen interest in the religion of Islam, then Smarakan in Uzbekistan should definitely be there on your bucket list. It is a crossroads of the cultures across the world and has been the same for over two centuries. The architecture in Samarkand is attributed as the highest artistic achievement of central Asia. The old town of the 14th and 15th centuries which comprise of mosques, madrassahs, and mausoleums, have in them deep and rich preserves of Islamic culture.
(Image Courtesy: Architecture & Design)
#14. Berlin, Germany
When it comes to Germany, no other city comes close to Berlin in terms of cultural identity. Berlin is a treat to anyone with a taste for exploring cultures with its museums, art galleries and art street that can be found across the entire city. Today, Berlin has emerged as a trendy and experimental city, but that is not even half the truth. Landmarks such as Reichstag and the remnants of the Berlin tell us a story that is deeply embedded in the pages of history. Germany has had a huge part in shaping up the history of not only Europe but the entire world and the laid-back metropolis of Berlin has always been at its epicenter. For people who love to explore art forms, the East Side Gallery is a huge recommendation for its politically motivated graffiti art. To get a deeper taste of the world’s history, you can also pay a visit to the Holocaust Memorial.
(Image Courtesy: deannacampaign)
#15. Prague, Czech Republic
If you’re someone who loves art, craftsmanship and Gothic architecture all at once, then Prague is perhaps the greatest destination for you. Just like London, Prague has been home to people from many different directions of the world and that resulted in an integrated yet deep cultural exuberance that is so synonymous with the city. You can get lost for a while in the mazy lanes of the Old Town while witnessing quirky sculptures all around you. The architecture is a fine blend of Roman, Renaissance and Goth styles and speaks of a cultural development with deep roots. The city is also known for its contribution towards music and opera.
(Image Courtesy: Flickr.com)
#16. Marrakesh, Morocco
Think of mystical, think of Marrakesh. Just like its name, the little city is so full of life and culture all around it. You can aroma around in the maze alleys and explore the offerings of different cultures in the old city. After you feel like you’ve walked enough, you can rejuvenate yourself in one of the city’s traditional hammams. The central square, Djemma El-Fna is a sight never to be missed. You can find snake charmers, street artists, and food vendors and have an experience like no other in the mystical city of Marrakesh. You can visit the holy mosques and shrines such as Palais el-Badi and Palais de la Bahia to satisfy your cultural curiosity.
(Image Courtesy: Wikipedia)
#17. Hanoi, Vietnam
If your thirst for exploring culture takes you to Vietnam, then definitely make a stay at the friendly city of Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. The hugely popular puppets show which narrates ancient fables with impressive lights and songs is a cultural treat that should not be missed. To know how the city of Hanoi works and how people have started living after a major war hit them do pay a visit to the Old Quarter of the city as you’ll experience much more than just architecture. You’ll be witnessing raw and pure Vietnamese culture, oozing all around the streets of the old city and you can lay your hands on several souvenirs from there. To quench your cultural thirst further, a visit to the iconic Ho Chi Minh complex is a must.
(Image Courtesy: Hanoi City
#18. Amman, Jordan
If you ask us why Amman is on this list, the answer would be because of the integration that exists in this mystifying city. It will surprise any first-time visitor with its charm and the way that its cosmopolitan culture is in perfect sync with the traditional influence. It is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and as a result has a huge chunk of history to offer to its visitors. You should definitely take a tour to the Amman Citadel from where you can have a grand view of the city at once. If you wish to dive into the culture and history, even more, the Temples of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace that dates back to the 8th century should be on your list.
(Image Courtesy: ani-shah.com)
#19. Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne is famous for its multicultural, edgy and arty vibe. You can talk to people from Melbourne and they’ll never run out of reasons why Melbourne is the coolest city to live in. However, they are not to blame. It is only due to the charm of the city that makes anyone fall in love with it. The cultural landscape of Melbourne is like an artwork of the urban era. You’ll see the architects of the Victorian era coexist side by side with trendy and modern installations on street corners. In the evenings, every street of the city comes alive with street artists, magicians, and singers. You’ll never feel out of place or like you don’t belong there kind in Melbourne. Due to its vast cultural identity, Melbourne accepts all, alike.
(Image Courtesy: Visit Victoria)
#20. Kathmandu, Nepal
For someone who loves nature, Kathmandu is perhaps the finest place as it the most famous for Everest and the base camp treks. However, if you look beyond the clichés that exist around the city, you’ll see that it has an explored and not much talked about mystery to it. The Valley of Kathmandu which is home to people from diverse cultures is a treat to anyone who loves to live and explore cultures. From mega structures to tiny lanes, you’ll see culture oozing out of every corner of the magical city and that can make anyone fall in love with for the very first time.
(Image Courtesy: ADVENTURE TRAVEL)
So, which of these culturally-rich city are you planning to visit next? Share your opinions with us in the comment section below.