THE MOST COLOURFUL PLACES IN THE WORLD
BY HIRANMAYII MOHANAN
There are a myriad of aspects one considers before travelling overseas from the accommodation to the itinerary, and aesthetics may be very well part of it. As you scurry to book your next travel destination, we unveil a world of vibrant hues — places of colourful buildings and naturally-hued wonders that can add some contentment to your life.
Old Havana, Cuba
Havana was founded in 1519 by the Spanish. By the 17th century, it had become one of the Caribbean’s main centres for ship-building. Although it is today a sprawling metropolis of 2 million inhabitants, its old centre retains an interesting mix of Baroque and neoclassical monuments, and a homogeneous ensemble of private houses with arcades, balconies, wrought-iron gates and internal courtyards. Old Havana, which is defined by the extent of the former city walls, has maintained the pattern of the early urban setting with its five large plazas, each with its own architectural character: Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza del Cristo and Plaza de la Catedral.
Colmar was apparently the inspiration for the village in the Disney film Beauty and the Beast, and it’s not hard to see why. In real life, Colmar is a small town which is located in the Alsace region of northeast France. The Alsace is where France meets Germany, and ownership of the region has been passed back and forth between the two countries over the years. The result is a unique mix of their two cultures – think of it as France with a twist. Colmar was conquered by the French in 1673 but Germany claimed the whole Alsace region in 1871. It stayed German until after WWI when it was given back to the French, then was temporarily occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. It was the last town in France to be liberated at the end of the Second World War and has been a part of French ever since. But its history means it’s no surprise that you can see a German influence in Colmar’s architecture, culture, food and drink.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming
Located in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States. The vibrant colours surrounding the body of water are due to the combination of microbes and minerals on its perimeter, which tend to be orange and red in summer and dark green in winter. Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest and deepest hot spring in all of Yellowstone Park, but its main feature is not its size but its characteristic colouring. It was for this reason that it was first noticed in 1871 by some geologists who were trying to expand their knowledge of the area. So what causes its particular colours reminiscent of a rainbow? Unfortunately, the scientific explanation is not as fascinating as the result: we owe this spectacle primarily to the presence of bacteria in the water. These thermophilic living organisms only develop at very high temperatures and multiply along the edge of the water source, producing coloured pigments that give rise to the particular coloration of the area.
Guatape is a little town located in the Antioquia department in Colombia. It is known as one of the most colourful and beautiful towns in the country. Before Iberian conquerors reached the Antioquia area in the sixteen century, the territory was inhabited by indigenous groups, and ruled by “Guatape”. Guatape was the head of the tribe and so the town was named after him. This colourful pueblo outside of Medellín is famous for the surrounding turquoise lake and beautiful scenery.
Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Brickfields, also known as Little India, sits snug in Kuala Lumpur — a realm that is distinctly its own. A burst of vibrant colours, intricate arches, various stalls selling sweets and flower garlands line the streets. This is also where you can find shops selling Indian spices, vegetables and the sorts, textile, jewellery and most importantly, good Indian food. Brickfields is one of the pioneer settlements in Kuala Lumpur. Indeed, the whole stretch of Jalan Tun Sambanthan (formerly Jalan Brickfields) is interspersed with old colonial structures.
Cinque Terre, Italy
With its brightly painted houses set against a deep blue sea, the ancient village of Manarola on the Italian Riviera is not only the most colourful place in the world according to the Uswitch research and is frequently searched online. On Instagram, Cinque Terre has amassed up to 2.6 million hashtags and receives an average of 718,000 searches per day on Google. Cinque Terre, the five towns, is a string of five old fishing villages perched high on the Italian Riviera in the region Liguria, which until recently were linked only by mule tracks and accessible only by rail or water. Cinque Terre is noted for its beauty. Over centuries, people have carefully built terraces to cultivate grapes and olives on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the Mediterranean Sea.
Nyhavn, Copenaghen, Denmark
One of the most visited tourist attractions in the Danish capital is this ancient harbour, which is located in the centre of Copenhagen. Old row buildings painted in vibrant hues border Nyhavn’s northern side, making them a favourite photo backdrop.
Vinicunca — also known as the Mountain of Seven Colours, or more simply Rainbow Mountain — was discovered four years ago when the snow covering it melted, revealing the natural beauty of the rock beneath. Formed by weathering, environmental conditions and sedimentary deposits over time, the mountain’s unique minerology created a marbling effect, with layered hues of gold, lavender, red and turquoise towering into the sky. Considered a holy site in Peru, the mountain has become a hotspot for international visitors, and is now the second-most visited attraction in the Cusco region thanks to local tour operators and a flurry of Instagram posts.
Kampung Pelangi, Indonesia
Also known as Rainbow Village, this small town is located south of Semarang in the heart of the island of Java. It was once a decadent village with decrepit houses and down trodden, sad tones but after a recent and very original restyling it turned into an extraordinary explosion of colours, quickly becoming one of the major tourist attractions in the area. Its 232 homes were transformed into perfect works of art, thanks to the initiative of a high school member of staff, along with residents of the area, who all managed to totally change the face of the village through government $20,000 of government funding.
Balat, Istanbul, Turkey
Balat is in the old city on the European side of Istanbul, on the western shore of the Golden Horn, sandwiched between Fener and Ayvansaray. Historically, it was the centre of the Jewish community in Istanbul. The name Balat is probably derived from Greek palation (palace), from Latin palatium, after the nearby Palace of Blachernae. It is one of the most colourful places in the world thanks to the buildings painted by their owners in striking hues. Known as the Jewish Quarter of Istanbul, this old yet hipster neighbourhood merges Turkish, Greek, Jewish, and Latin influences, giving any visitor a unique, eye-catching, experience one won’t expect to find in Turkey. The number of churches, mosques, and synagogues in the district make it one of the most diverse districts. Not only is this one of the most ‘instagrammable’ neighbourhoods in the world, but Balat is also one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Turkey.
Willemstad is the capital of the Caribbean island, which is part of the kingdom of the Netherlands, is a major commercial and tourist port of call. The bright and eclectic historic city center of Willemstad is made up of four quarters, of which Punda and Otrobanda are the most well known. Otrobanda literally translates to the ‘other side’ and is joined to Punda by the Queen Emma and Queen Wilhelmina pontoon bridges over Sint Anna Bay. Willemstad is named after Dutch governor Willem II van Oranje. The city was named after him just after the island was conquered by the Dutch in 1634. Before then, the island was occupied by Spain, which explains both the Spanish and Dutch influences of this island. In fact, one of Curaçao’s core languages, Papiamento, was influenced heavily by Dutch, Venezuelan Spanish and Portuguese. Calming pastels and other vibrant pops of color everywhere you look, the city of Willemstad is inviting, to say the least.