Color choice is not the first thing that comes to mind when we think about cities. In fact, in the hustle and bustle of today’s day and age, we rarely notice the architecture. Few buildings and structures manage to stand out in the concrete metropolises we’re accustomed to.
But cities do not necessarily have to be synonymous with the color gray. It’s hard to imagine a rainbow city or a town that is entirely blue like Chefchaouen. Vibrant colors in urban areas seem almost like an idea straight out of a children’s book, like the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz. However, colorful public areas aren’t just ideas for storybooks. There are a number of colorful cities all around the world waiting to be discovered.
13 Most Colorful Cities All Around the World
1- Procida, Italy
Nestled between the Cape of Miseno and the Island of Ischia is the island of Procida in Italy. Although Capri is the more popular island choice off the coast of Naples, Procida is still worth a visit since it is off the beaten track. Old folklore suggests the pastel-colored buildings were painted this way so that fisherman could identify their houses while out at the sea.
2- Copenhagen, Denmark
The harbor in the Nyhavn district in Denmark is iconic. Once the home of several artists, this colorful district was also the home of the renowned fairy-tale author Hans Christensen Anderson. Now the area is lined with high-end cafés and restaurants where people can enjoy a nice meal by the waterfront while watching the wooden ships trail through the canal.
3- Chefchaouen, Morocco
Known as the ‘Blue Pearl,’ this city is positioned in between the Rif mountains. It owes its deep sky-blue shades to the Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition through Morocco in the 15th century. The Jewish community supposedly colored the buildings blue mimicking the color of the sky so that they felt closer to God and heaven. Other locals suggest that the blue is there to repel heat or mosquitos with its cool tones. And since it’s affordable, travelers flock from all around the world to visit Moroccan city.
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4- St. John’s, New Foundland, Canada
The downtown area of St.John’s is called “Jellybean row”. This is particularly appropriate since the downtown features a row of houses with different colors. However, the truth is that Jellybean row isn’t the only vibrant street in St. John’s. Most of the houses in St. John’s are in the same vein.
5- Izamal, Mexico
This is the yellow version of Chefchaouen. Although miles away in South America, Izamal adopts the same style of painting all of its buildings in the same single color. The stark yellow color of the structures in Izamal emphasizes the architectural character of the buildings. If you ever pay a visit to the area, be sure to check out their Mercado Izamal. The Mercado houses a farmer’s market where you can buy fresh food and veggies. The farmer’s market also contains eateries where you can try out the local specialty: deer tacos.
6- Willemstad, Curaçao
This Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela is one of the Lesser Antilles islands and is part of the kingdom of the Netherlands. It is a world heritage site and with good reason. The buildings across this island are a multitude of bright gem-colored shades. The rumored story behind these vivid structures dates back to the 19th century. Dutch Governor-General Albert Kikkert would suffer from migraines upon seeing the harsh sunlight reflected off white buildings typical in the area. Kikkert ordered all the buildings to be painted in any color other than white so that he could prevent the splitting headaches.
7- Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa
This colorful suburb, found on the foot of Signal Hill, is an interesting site. The style of the architecture in the area is a mix of Cape Georgian and Cape Dutch. The area is visited by a number of travelers from all around the world solely for the purpose of photographing these picturesque houses.
8- Guanajuato, Mexico
This UNESCO world heritage site is easily Mexico’s most vibrant city. Its downtown is dotted with contrasting colors from green to orange to red. Many of the buildings in the city center are built in the baroque and neoclassical style. However, the city’s main attraction is Cathedral Basilica Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato which is painted entirely yellow and has a stark red roof.
9- Jodhpur, India
The city of Jodhpur owes its blue whitewashed houses to the caste system present in India. The priestly caste named the Brahmins would color their houses in this shade of blue to differentiate them from the houses of other castes. Nowadays, the tradition is adopted by all the public. The locals also suggest that the blue color has helped repel mosquitos and heat.
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10- Havana, Cuba
Havana is a mix of old and new. The pastel-colored buildings positioned around 5 plazas are all part of the character and the charm of Havana. Strolling through its streets, you’re likely to see curious and beautiful examples around the world of how this city melds the modern lifestyle of today with the classic colonial architecture of its yesteryears. It should come as no surprise that Jazz music is a cornerstone characteristic in the area along with the vintage cars that are seen touring its streets.
11- Longyearbyen, Norway
This colorful town is named after American John Munro Longyear who in 1906 opened the Arctic Coal Company in the area. Although today there is only one mine operational in the town, coal mining roots still shine through in many of the buildings. The town, situated on the Svalbard archipelago, is the most Northern town in the whole world. The rows of colored wooden houses in the town’s main street are set on piles to fight the cold and frost. However, the reason behind the colorful houses remains a mystery. Some locals suggest it could have been a way to cheer and spread joy in the town’s dark industrial past.
12- Burano, Italy
Although outshined by the neighboring islands of Venice, Italy Burano has slowly gained the attention of wanderlust enthusiasts all around the world. The Island actually operates on a strict color scheme where the colors and repaints of the homes are coordinated and approved by the locals.
13- La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
La Boca is known for its characteristic multicolored wooden houses. The area is actually home to artist colonies who perform on its streets. It is largely known for its tango dance performances. El Caminito—’The little walkway,’ is a hub where tourists from all around the world can come and enjoy the street shows, purchase trinkets, and souvenirs, or take in the sights and admire the shanty houses.
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