It’s a beautiful world out there! Vibrant in its hues, diverse in its many elements of tremendous wonder, encompassing a lot many surprises across its circumference glowing in the varied colors of it. Sometimes monochromatic, sometimes a palette of scattered tones, embracing every shade of beauty there can ever be, conjuring an expanse of such enormous magic that leaves one gasping at the mere sight of it. In eking out their own space of colored magnificence, towns and cities and villages all over the world present a picture of delightfully tinted existence, as beautiful as the many lives they have sustained through. Scouting out some of such color coded spaces of the world to have you celebrate life beyond the greys-
An enigmatic presence among the many blue cities of the world is the Insta worthy, Pinterest favorite pretty Moroccan haven of Chefchaouen. Popular as the blue pearl of Morocco, this small town radiant in its many shades of blue presents a spectacular sight in symbolic synchronisation even as the many elements heralding the old world charm- read the cobbled streets that take you back in time to a world of laidback lives and the sanctity that derives from the pristine presence of this land of the happy blues make it all the more enticing a haven for global travellers. Whitewashed houses and buildings with really prominent streaks of blue, set amidst the spectacular setting of the Rif mountains present an extraordinary visual of the bright and the brazen, complimenting each other in an intensity alluring enough to have anyone with as much as just a feeling glimpse of its contrast, totally and completely in awe of it.
As much as the aesthetics however, the blue rakes up also the interesting history of Chefchaouen. Founder several centuries back in 1471 as a kasbah or fortress, this present day bright and blue medina supposedly acquired its color from the Jews who made it their home after fleeing the atrocities of Adolf Hitler. Their tradition of painting things blue to mirror the sky and remind them of God perhaps have withstand the test of time, not just in the hue but also in the pristine sanctity of the place. Other theories allude to blue being a color that can repel mosquitoes from the town and keep it cool through the warm days, and have prevailed in their own distinction. More modern day theories say that the town begun to be painted blue only during the 1970s as a means to attract tourists. And if the validity of this particular ‘truth’ is anything to go by, Chefchaouen sure has climbed the tourism ladder real high. Ask anyone who intends to do a Morocco trip sometime in their life and they will inevitably have the country’s blue city feature right up there in their itinerary.
Another Moroccan city that rakes up a world of colorful existence, this time one steeped in the radiance of the reds is Marrakesh. Nicknamed the Red City due to the city walls and red sandstone buildings that make for splashes of vibrant exuberance, this residing in the redden glow of civilisation might not be as famous as its counterpart of Chefchaouen but in its enchanting premises, still harbours a vibe that is no less contagious. Particularly in its parallel prominence as the city of luxury, Marrakech finds favour with French celebrity tourists, a trait that caters to the rapidly urbanised facade of this place that has been inhabited since at least the Neolithic times.
Celebrated also as the “Ochre City” and “the Daughter of the Desert”, Marrakesh reveals to the world as a dream in the African heartland, and has been alluded to such poesy as “a drum that beats an African identity into the complex soul of Morocco”. Today one of the busiest African cities, Marrakech has so much to offer to spellbound travelers who cannot help but fall in love in this city defined so much by the hues of romance. Boasting the largest traditional market, or souk of Morocco and encompassing also a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its medina quarters, and surrounded by the magnificent Atlas Mountains and glorious desert sands, it is easy to see wherefrom another of the Moroccan cities derives its fantastical allure from.
A quite offbeat presence in the list of the world’s exquisitely color coded cities is the capital city of Azerbaijan. Baku or the Black City might be a city growing on its touristry charm, what with its many museums and palaces and towers deriving from times of centuries ago still inspiring awe among many. But unlike the numerous other global spaces marked by a certain color, Baku’s prominence as a city dwelling in the blacks hasn’t done anything that can be viewed as potentially touristry. Rather, the Black City moniker of Baku arose courtesy the black smoke and soot of the factories and oil refineries that characterised it, drawing from its prominence as a region rich in oil. Nevertheless though, in still being a city that has a colour exclusive to its own, Baku is every bit a land worth knowing about.
Perhaps boasting the most number of cities unique in their own colored identity is the beautifully vibrant land of India. While color coded cities and villages and towns dot the diverse lands of India all through, it however is the princely state of Rajasthan that is most famous in almost all of its cities stemming of a unique hue of beauty. And most prominent among such colorfully stately cities of Rajasthan is the pink city of Jaipur. Epitomising the pretty pristinity of this very royal Indian city is a vision of rich hues that have come to permeate every layer of its existence.
First painted a blushing terracotta pink in 1876 by then ruler Sawai Ram Singh I to welcome HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales into the city, the city continued to sport avenues in the hue of prettiness ever since, with even a law that mandated all the structures of Jaipur to showcase the pink prominence. Today a UNESCO World Heritage Site and most recognisable in its epithet that derives from the dominant color scheme of its building, this exquisite land of beautiful palaces and majestic grandeur is world famous in all its radiant exuberance.
Another streak of blue shines through the multi colored expanse of the world’s vibrant spaces, this time in the form of a Spanish village. World renowned like Chefchaouen for its standout presence in and of the blue, Juzcar however has quite a different standing in its facade of a monochromatically hued identity. As the place that hosted the world premiere of the movie The Smurfs, a traditionally whitewashed Juzcar was painted all blue as part of a marketing campaign by producers Sony, as however a temporary arrangement. But the mass inflow of tourists that this Smurf village began to witness ever since means that villagers were more than happy to stick to their blues, voting in fact to keep the color intact.
Located in the valley of the Genal river, in Andalusia, in southern Spain, the first and only Smurf village of Juzcar reveals itself as a small town pristinely seated amidst all prettiness. A mountainous landscape surrounded by trees such as oaks, pines and, mainly, chestnut trees that presents the view of a world surprisingly similar to the fantasy land of the Smurfs, Juzcar, referred to often as La Aldea Azul or the blue village sure is another striking rendition of a color that dominates so many of the world’s places and does them all up oh so pretty!
A really standout presence in its perky blooms of a yellow that which characterise this La Ciudad Amarilla, translating quite unsurprising to the Yellow City is the premises of Izamal in Mexico. Perhaps residing in its yellows due to the city once inhabited by the Mayans who considered this site to be the abode of Kinichkakmo, a manifestation of the sun god, Izamal comes across as a really stunning abode of a hue that perhaps do not characterise any other place on earth in such aesthetic measure.
In its bright egg yolk yellow colored buildings complemented so well by its cobblestone streets, this small Mexican haunt is truly a world of wonders, quaint and diverse and surely captivating in all its richness, whether it be if color or tradition or history. No wonder, this town of enormous allure is enlisted today as one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos or a magical town that indeed spells out magic also in its very name Izamal, meaning “dew that falls from the heavens”.
The White City of the North and the capital of the world’s happiest country Finland, Helsinki is quite a sight to savor in all its pristinity. Deriving this epithet of color, or rather the lack of it, from a construction period in its history when neoclassical and romantic nationalism elements took over to roll out a cityscape dominated by expanses of the locally produced light- coloured granite is Helsinki’s aura in the immaculateness of its being.
Standing out as prime examples of this white pristinity are many of the tourist attractions of Helsinki, most prominently the main cathedral and the Finlandia house as well as a host of other such specimens of architecture. Equally catching on with the white spirit was sometime later when the city after having been ravaged by a fire was redone by architect CL Engel whose choice of white or light colors later gave the city the name the white city, or the pearl of the Baltic Sea. Of course, equally encapsulating are the snow covered expanses of a pearly white Helsinki every winter as being a part of the Nordic range of countries, and concepts.
Rajasthan’s city in the desert, Jaisalmer might bring to mind images of a sand spewn, dust dense expanse. But explore the city in person and you will realise why it is famed as the Golden City of India. Unlike Jaipur that owes its pink epithet to the painted facade of the city, Jaisalmer derives its shimmer of the golden from the yellow sandstone used throughout the architecture dotting its premises. Standing mighty on a hilltop of Golden-yellowish sandstone that which bathes the entire city in a certain golden- yellow light, Jaisalmer is a vision to behold in its golden immaculateness as the sun rays reflecting from the vast sand dunes of the majestic That desert makes it an existence even more shimmering in its many wonders.
For a city marked out as the Grey City, Aberdeen might not seem to be quite an exciting prospect to explore for enthusiastic travelers who covet a world of rich vibrancy. But spell out Aberdeen’s identity as also the Silver City and you will be besotted with the stupefying extravaganza that this super city of Scotland unravels to be. Dominated by such specimens of architecture that reside mostly in granite and that which come across as sparkly under the sun in the mica content of the stone, this glittering grey expanse of enduring beauty resides indeed very aptly in its prominence as the “Silver City by the Golden Sands”.
For a country so renowned for being a kaleidoscope of colors, it isn’t possible that a terrain of blues would not come to characterise the Indian experience. And this charm of blue beauty comes to unfurl its magic in the city domain through the exquisite land of Jodhpur. Started as a trend by the Brahmins of the city to give them a distinctive feature, even the present day Jodhpur is as striking a vision in its array of blue painted houses, particularly in its old area that though also recounts its origins to royalty, having stemmed perhaps as a blue haven owing to then ruler Rao Jodha.
The blue realms of popular perception however might even be a draw from another epithet that Jodhpur plays host to. Known also as the Sun City because the weather there remains bright and sunny all around the year, the hues of blue might even have been a way to keep the houses and its residents cool. Either way though, the city continues to be distinctively blue and beautiful with its sea of houses that indeed is a spectacular sight to savour in all the ruling of the standout but soothing and all natural indigo blue vibrancy.
With a color lineage that is quite different from the rest of the presences in the list, the Swedish city of Falun is a place definitely worth exploring. Boasting the origins of a hue of red as its namesake and that which paints all Swedish cottages in swathes of its striking brilliance, Falun is a city extraordinaire and soberly rich in its standout identity. Once famous for its copper mines and from where the characteristic deep red hue originated that has seen use since the 16th century not just in Falun but also all across Sweden, Denmark and Finland, this is one color coded city that is offbeat and amalgamating, quite unlike any other place on earth.