Secret Creative Cities Around the World

Ever wondered what makes a city creative? Throw a music festival, add in some paint on canvas and have an author read a few lines of literature, et voila.

Okay, perhaps that’s not all that makes a creative city, but that guess isn’t as far off as throwing a dart at a map and it landing in the Pacific. Subjects including music, literature and art are all listed as categories under the official UNESCO Creative Cities Network and all share a common objective of “placing creative and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.” It is this commonality that brings 116 countries across six continents together to form a network that celebrates and encourages artistic minds to craft, design and create. Founded in 2004, UNESCO CCN aims to continue creative development in urban environments, fulfilling the potential of a city’s character and social-cohesion within.

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Photo source: UNESCO Creative Cities Network Map

What is so great about cities is their artistic differences from one another, thanks to the various creators and urban initiatives that have the potential to grow in places that are otherwise deemed as depressing 9-5 building blocks. Cities famed by the movies including New York, London and Paris never struggle to attract tourists throughout the year, many of whom take time out to visit infamous art pieces such as the Mona Lisa displayed in Le Louvre. But as the United Kingdom recently named the not so predictable City of Culture 2017 as Hull, it seems appropriate to give underrated creative cities across the world the beacon of light they so rightly deserve.

Our best advice? Expect the unexpected.

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Photo source: Qantara.de

BAGHDAD, Iraq

Portrayed by Western media as a war-torn country beyond repair, Iraq’s capital is evidence that the Middle-East has so much more talent and culture to offer than one may presuppose. Nominated as the 2013 Arab Country of Culture, Iraq’s capital prints newspapers in three languages (Arabic, English and French)  and has massively developed in the area of women’s literature, having recently hosted their first awards event for female writers and an International Conference on Translations.

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Photo source: English UK North, Bradford

BRADFORD, United Kingdom

Listed as a UNESCO City of Film in 2009, Bradford has a long history of the moving image and producing historical classics including the TV series Wuthering Heights and a Colin Firth favourite, The Kings Speech in 2010. Having gained increasing popularity for housing movie sets, the West-Yorkshire city also greets thousands of visitors to its annual International Film Festival and National Media Museum. If you so happen to stroll through these streets, you may find yourself re-enacting a scene from one of the many films it is famed for.

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KINGSTON, Jamaica

Home to world-famous reggae artist Bob Marley, it is hard to think that Kingston would be overlooked as a creative city. The historical roots and generations worth of Jamaican music has bred six genres, including reggae, ska and dancehall, all of which are mixed and recorded in production studios in the capital. Jamaican music offers something to the heart and soul, which brings about social inclusion, or inspiration for social change.

JAIPUR, India

Forget the Taj Mahal and travel West to Jaipur to explore the hidden gem that is Hawa Mahal, otherwise known as Palace of the Winds. It may only be 1/7 the height of the Taj Mahal, but this beautiful piece of architecture has so much character in both its history and pink-tainted bricks. We suggest timing your visit with the Jaipur International Heritage Festival, where traditional crafts and folk art are showcased.

Photo source: Amazing India Blog

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