When planning a city break, modern travellers consider a range of pros and cons. Are the hotels up to standard? Where are the tastiest places to eat? And what exactly is there to do in the city?
A city’s artistic and cultural heritage plays a super important role in how potential tourists view it. Art, style and architecture influence our booking decisions; as a result, new museums, galleries, and touring shows pop up in Europe’s capitals at an ever-increasing rate. But once everything’s considered, which city comes out on top? What is Europe’s arty capital?
A recent study by posterXXL, a German company specialising in personalised photo products, might have the answers. PosterXXL assigned scores to European cities based on factors including the concentration of art galleries, the number of buildings designed by famous architects, how many contemporary artists were born in the town, and the number of art schools and art festivals. While the continent’s big-hitting fashion capitals appear in the list, a few entries may surprise – and potentially inspire an alternative artistic escape.
The City of Light is a must-visit destination for lovers of art, style and architecture – so much so that a place just within the top 10 shows how much competition there is from other European cities. Gaze upon Monalisa and Venus de Milo in the Louvre, discover Impressionist wonders in the Musée de l’Orangerie, and take time to get lost down the French capital’s back street, looking up at the architectural details fine-tuned over centuries.
What makes Lyon unique is how eclectic its artistic offerings are. In the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon, not only are there historical works by Early Modern artists like Gerard David, Peter Paul Rubens and Simon Vouet, but more contemporary offerings alongside an extensive collection of Egyptian artefacts. Lyon erupts in colour each autumn for four weeks as the Peinture Fraîche Festival takes over the city, celebrating street art, graffiti and contemporary art.
Finland’s capital doesn’t get as much attention for its artistic and cultural heritage as it should. There are a handful of well-stocked galleries and museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, and architectural highlights like the 20th-century Helsinki Central Station and more contemporary Kamppi Chapel – see many of the sights on a guided tour of the city. What helps the city’s ranking is the annual Helsinki Festival – the largest arts festival in the Nordic countries, held each summer.
Nobody can deny Milan’s influence on Europe’s fashionista circles. Fashion weeks pull the global glitterati into the glitzy Italian city each year for a jam-packed schedule of runway shows and high-profile events. While the catwalk is home to head-turning designer creations, Milan’s historic buildings and galleries are home to some of the most iconic artworks in the world. The hand of Botticelli, Raphael and Da Vinci can be seen in the fashion capital – perhaps most notably The Last Supper, the fresco in the Museo Cenacolo Vinciano depicting the final meal Jesus shared with the disciples before his crucifixion.
Berlin is a contemporary art lover’s dream. A long weekend – or an entire week, if you’ve got the stamina – can be wiled away just in the German capital’s spectacular galleries and museums. The open-air East Side Gallery houses the largest continuous section of the Berlin Wall. At the same time, showrooms such as König Galerie and BQ Berlin are home to changing, eclectic exhibitions curated to excite Berliners and international design lovers alike.
Just as Norway’s capital heads into a dark, chilly winter, it suddenly lights up again, as Fjord Oslo transforms Harbour Promenade into an outdoor exhibition of light. At the end of summer, the annual Oslo Art Weekend welcomes a contemporary art programme to the city full of pop-up events and exhibitions. While art festivals are a big thing in Oslo, there are highlights year-round; the city is home to The National Museum of Art in Norway, among many other curious collections.
PosterXXL’s investigations rank the Scottish capital in fourth place – and it’s the first of two UK cities in the top five. The National Galleries of Scotland is a collection of galleries in the very heart of Edinburgh; Modern One, Modern Two, National, and Portrait. These halls (and vaults) house more than 120,000 paintings and artefacts, including works by Vincent Van Gogh and John Singer Sargent. Thanks to a history dating back thousands of years, Edinburgh’s architecture is unmatched – amble around the castle’s fortress, check out the regal Palace of Holyroodhouse, and look down on the cityscape from Arthur’s Seat on a clear day.
Rome is a culture vulture’s dream. The imposing Colosseum, fascinating ruins at every turn, and some of the most captivating religious architecture in the world, thanks to thousands of years of settlements. There’s so much to see in the Italian capital, in fact, that it’s easy to forget how well its galleries capture the contemporary art scene. MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Art, is one such hotspot, holding thousands of works across 27,000 square metres of gallery space. Rome Art Week arrives in the city again this October, featuring over 170 exhibitions, and more than 170 open studios from up-and-coming and established artists.
Scooping silver is the Venice of the North. An afternoon amble along the uncountable canals makes it clear how arty Amsterdam’s residents are, so it’s little surprise that this charming city only just misses the top spot. Contemporary artists that call the city their birthplace include Saskia de Brau, Rob Scholte and Inez Van Lamsweerde – creatives inspired by myriad galleries, museums and art festivals, perhaps. Only got a few days? Be sure to check out the Rijksmuseum, home to the country’s most extensive collection of art and artefacts, and the Van Gogh Museum, where the permanent collection consists of around 700 works by the notorious artist.
Scooping the top spot is London, regarded by many as the creative capital of Europe. International students descend on the city to study in prestigious schools such as Central Saint Martins, Fine Arts College and the range of campuses that make up the University of the Arts London. While London is not a cheap city to navigate, many of the capital’s world-class museums and galleries are free to enter, including the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery, Somerset House and the Tate Modern; travelling exhibitions are where there’s a fee to consider. If art is your thing, save the pennies for awe-inspiring suppers in London’s best restaurants and stays in the prettiest hotels, and gaze upon the work of Monet, Bellini, Rubens, Rembrandt, and so many other artists who continue to inspire the creatives of tomorrow. Each autumn, Regent’s Park is a haven for aesthetes – amateur and well-versed – thanks to the arrival of Frieze, while the London Art Fair, Photo London, and London Craft Week are just a few of the other art festivals that fill a jam-packed calendar year-round.
Source : CN Traveller