London by M Zaraspe Akil
Chinwags and Tittle-Tattles
My top European art destination is right at my doorstep. From high art to popular culture, London’s multicultural landscape is a perfect canvas for eclectic visual expressions. Venture eastward from the tourist belt and you’ll be treated to amazing street art in one of the most “pro-graffiti” cities in the world. When in the East End, book the Alternative London Walking Tour, the city’s longest-running street art tour. The two-hour pay-what-you-like tour runs daily where you’ll see works by ROA, Jonesy, Shepard Fairey, Invader, Stik, Vhils, El Mac, and some of Banksy’s if they haven’t been erased yet. London’s east side are dotted with commissioned and non-commissioned graffiti on the walls and sides of buildings. Some of these artworks blend so well with the surroundings and architecture, you will not readily notice them until a guide points them out. Its colourful French Huguenots and Jewish past combined with the present Bangladeshi settlements add to its appeal.
Rome by Grace Poblador
Coffechat with Perpie
Rome is one of the great art cities in the world. With its immensely rich history and cultural heritage, Rome does not run out of sights and things to do. I’ve visited this city twice already, and both times the city never failed to amaze me. Without even trying, you’ll walk into masterpieces of great artists like Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini, Caravaggio – you name it! Art is truly all around you. For first-time visitors, it’s a must to see the remnants of the once grandiose Roman Empire: The Pantheon, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum; the famous Baroque fountain featured in the La Dolce Vita film, the Trevi Fountain; and Europe’s city-state, the Vatican City or the seat of papal power. I personally like the Vatican museum as it is filled with collections of classical sculptures and most important Renaissance masterpieces – all spread out in 54 salas or galleries. One of the galleries houses the world-famous Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo.
Berlin by Deepa Paul
Bombed to rubble by Allied bombs in World War II, Berlin became a blank canvas from which anyone could create anything. It may not be a Renaissance masterpiece like Florence, but Berlin is a work of contemporary art that is constantly evolving.
Covered in bullet holes, Communist propaganda murals, and more street art than any other city in the world (even the birthplace of modern graffiti, New York), Berlin’s cityscape tells the story of its survival. So much has been destroyed that whatever has survived stands out, each with its own voice to add to the bigger story.
There is always something to discover: My favourites are the Pergamon Museum’s awe-inspiring recreations of the 2nd century Pergamon Altar and the ancient Babylonian Ishtar Gate; the haunting Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, made up of 2,711 eerie, towering concrete slabs that feels like a city of tombstones; the graffiti-covered fragments of the historic Berlin Wall that lie all around the city. In Berlin, art is profound, unexpected, powerful… and it is everywhere.
Saint Petersburg by DM Kuijs
The Weekend Traveller
If you are looking to spend a full day in a museum to view some of the most exclusive collections of classic art, Saint Petersburg is the best place to be. Saint Petersburg is in fact called “Gorod Muzei” (Museum City) because of the extensive number of museums that can be found here.
At the Hermitage Museum alone, you will need at least three days to see all three million art pieces and artifacts that the Russian tsars and tsarinas have collected through their years of power.
Peter, the Great started the city’s vast collection of art through his acquisition of unique and sometimes weird pieces. These are housed in what is now known as the KunstKammer Museum.
As grand as the museums in Saint Petersburg, the architectural gems in the city heavily influenced by the Russians’ Orthodox beliefs will also appeal to lovers of art and beauty.