Cities with Memorable Graffiti and Murals
Street art has a very controversial history behind it.
Once upon a time, it was considered mere criminal vandalism, and with the help of various institutions, it found its audience and place in the art world during the 1980s.
Today, many auction houses want the works of street art artists, whose work is highly valued and well paid.
And fortunately, genuinely inspiring, artistic graffiti can be found in all parts of the world. Some are so famous that they are like hot spots of a particular area.
If you want to explore cities whose facades have been painted by street art artists, turning them into an open-air gallery, check out these cities:
A historic neighborhood in the East End, Shoreditch, is today considered a unique art oasis.
Unlike some street art destinations, Shoreditch speaks about what is new and exciting, with much less emphasis on preservation, so visitors can never be sure what they will find while wandering its streets.
However, there are a few exceptions, including Banksy's "Marked Graffiti Area" at the Cargo Club and works by Spanish street artist Stik (known for his stick-like figures), whose works have stood the test of time.
Some lovely places to start exploring are Rivington Street, Princelet Street, and Fashion Street, but be sure to take a walk along the side streets.
Melbourne, with almost cafeterias and boutiques in hipster-style, is considered one of the world's most famous street art destinations.
Insiders say it's best to head to the central business district and make your way through Federation Square and nearby Flinders Lane and Flinders Street.
Hosier Lane Cobblestone is another locality in the heart of the city scene. You can enjoy an outdoor mural spectacle, in fact, a collage of wall paintings on every surface.
As for the sights, Adnate's painted wall of a multi-story residential building is among the most prominent.
You will find works by Rone, Dvate, Mayo, Ling, Phibs, Makatron, Ghostpatrol, SDM team, SmugOne, and Herakut.
For those who want to learn about the history of street art in Melbourne, they must not miss a mural by Keith Herring, made during his 1984 visit to Australia. The work was restored in 2013 and is one of the best-preserved paintings in the city.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
The Brazilian government legalized street art in 2009. After more than a decade, artists have turned the urban part of the city into space for their creations.
Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo fought for the title of the best street art city. However, Sao Paulo has the Beco de Batman district, which made the town even more attractive.
The open-air gallery runs through a winding alley and lets you into the world of uninterrupted art, full of colorful creations.
Other valuable areas to explore are Cambuci and the trendy Villa Madalena. Be sure to check out the works of local artists Os Gemeos (twins Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo), along with works by other acclaimed Brazilian street artists, including Cobra, Nina, Vitche and Nunca.
The city of Valparaiso, or "Valpo", as it was nicknamed, was once a famous port for European ships en route to the West Coast of the United States.
During the second half of the 19th century, the hilly city experienced a rush of wealth and gained the nickname "Little San Francisco". With the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, the wealthy town fell into economic despair.
During the Pinochet dictatorship of the 1970s, street art emerged as a form of protest and resistance. After the fall of the regime, street art was legalized in Valparaiso and was often financially supported by local authorities.
Although graffiti and murals are famous throughout the city, the Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion districts are especially rich in street artworks.
Take a look at the works of local artists Cuellimangui, Inti, and the graffiti duo Un Kolor Distinto, which consists of Sammi Espinoza and Cinthia Aguilera.
Cape Town, South Africa
In South Africa, street art has a controversial history, since it was not allowed during Apartheid.
Today that is not the case, and Cape Town and Johannesburg have become competitive street art centers. For enthusiasts looking for an immersive experience, there is no better address than the bohemian Woodstock neighborhood in Cape Town.
Woodstock is an open-air gallery and the large number of works that can be seen alongside the nearby enclave observatory, nicknamed "Obs."
Visitors should look for the signatures of the local artist Nardstar, who is considered one of the leading street artists in the world.
The fourth district, a community, destroyed by forced relocations from the Apartheid era, is another place worth visiting. The walls are covered with murals documenting the country's political history and struggle for justice and equality.
New York, USA
During the 1970s and 80s, the Bronx and Manhattan were the epicenters of the street art movement. Over the past 30 years, Brooklyn's predominantly industrial Bushwick neighborhood has been transformed into the most famous street art locality in the United States.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, artists were attracted to cheap rent and large spaces. Their creative inspirations soon spread outside and to the city facades.
The neighborhood is also home to the Bushwick Collective, a non-profit street art organization that connects artists from around the world and arranges mural painting in specific locations.
Street art, murals, and graffiti in the cities we mentioned above are nothing short of amazing. They are pieces of history and powerful messages that will one day be a true testament of an era. The same towns offer much more, but you shouldn't miss seeing what some paint and a lot of creativity can do.