Feel like your recent holidays have been lacking in culture? Well we’ve selected a number of holiday destinations that have so much culture you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Liverpool has more galleries and museums than any UK city outside London. Start your journey at the Walker Art Gallery, with its sumptuous Pre-Raphaelite collection, and then head to the Museum of Liverpool for a whistle-stop history tour of this delightful, and cosmopolitan port city. After which visit the World Museum for artifacts culled from the four corners of the globe: evidence of this great port city’s legacy of 300 years’ trading with the world.
Palma is a way more interesting city than, perhaps, its Balearic setting might have you believe. Housed in a 17TH century palace, Museo de Mallorca tells the story of Mallorcan history from the Bronze Age. Perhaps the most famous adopted son of Mallorca, Joan Miro, lived here from 1956 until he died in 1983. There are more than 6000 of his works to see at the Fundacio I Joan Miro.
San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art has an eclectic and engaging programme of exhibitions and events, while the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts – a contemporary arts center blending film, performances and exhibitions, just over the road on Mission Street. The Academy of Sciences houses a great planetarium, and the Exploratorium is crammed with fun hands-on exhibits.
A symbol of the spirit of human resilience, and a monument to the redemptive power of reconciliation. Mostar’s reconstructed, gravity-defying masterpiece – the Sloping Bridge – was hailed as the greatest architectural achievement of the Ottoman Empire when it was built in 1558. It stood for over 400 years before being destroyed in the Bosnian war. Crossing from the west bank to the east you’ll also be crossing the ancient point where East and West symbolically met.
Santiago de Compostela
A suitably awe-inspiring conclusion to the fabled Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route – the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela is the alleged burial site of the apostle St. James. Consecrated in 1211, it sits at the heart of the UNESCO-preserved Old Town. Destroyed by the Muslims at the end of the 10th century, it was completely rebuilt in the following century. With its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings, Santiago is one of the world’s most beautiful urban areas.
A rocky fort, towering to about 650 feet above the ground, Sigiriya was a royal citadel for more than 18 years, from 477 to 495 A.D. Now it’s a UNESCO-protected peek dominating the landscape, replete with pleasure gardens and a curious, well-preserved complex of ancient Sri Lankan architecture. The serene ‘capital’ of the hill country, and seat of Buddhist power, Kandy is delightfully situated along the shore of a cool mountain lake, with green hills, and Victorian tea estates rising behind it.
Toronto’s theatre offer is by far the best in Canada. The city takes in the big budget West End/Broadway shows – from Matilda to the Lion King – the Downtown theatre district, by the harbor, is conveniently clustered together. The city also hosts several theatre festivals each year. The annual Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake celebrates the works of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. But, for more cutting edge performances, look to the Toronto Fringe Festival, and Summerworks – the largest theatre festival in Canada, infesting the city’s smaller spaces.
With over 200 theatres, ranging from disused warehouses and bars to major cultural centers, Chicago’s theatre and performance scene is varied and vast. From intimate performances and readings at the Library Theatre at Feltre, to new premiers at the Victory Gardens Theatre (with a dozen playwrights in residence), Chicago is a city that likes to create new work – often; Broadway’s biggest hits start here. And ticket prices are a fraction of what you’d pay in the Big Apple.
Iconoclastic, daring and unashamedly cerebral, Berlin theatre is an assault on the senses – the spirit of Brecht and Weill is still very much alive and kicking in the city’s smaller performance spaces. The big four are the Berliner Ensemble, the Deutsches Theatre, the Schaubühne, and the Volksbühne. The Deutsches Theater offers new takes on the classics and the Schaubühne is where you might see King Lear on an unicyclist to the strains of death metal. No, really.
With so many statues and memorials in Washington D.C., you’ll be spoiled for choice. But make a special effort to investigate The Lincoln Memorial, with its arresting Greek temple-like architecture. The Gettysburg Address is inscribed on the memorial’s south wall and Lincoln’s second inaugural speech on the north. The memorial steps were the site of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream…’ speech. If you’re keen on art and historical objects, you could easily spend your entire holiday exploring the famous Smithsonian, Jefferson Drive. The world’s largest museum and research complex, The Smithsonian consists of 19 museums and galleries.
Increasingly on the tourist trail, the township of Soweto is a must if you’re to get the complete picture of life in Jo’burg. This densely populated shanty town’s history is vividly brought to life on a guided tour, which would include the Mandela Family Museum, the Apartheid Museum (a must see) and Newtown’s vibrant crafts centers, cafes and squares. The Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum, (the first student to be killed in the 1976 uprising) shows how this event was a catalyst for the country’s eventual overturning of the brutal regime of apartheid.
With acres of gold and glass dazzling in the sun, Wat Phra Kaew & Grand Palace can’t – literally – be missed. Built 1782, the palace contains the sumptuous Temple of the Emerald Buddha, a royal chapel, extensive murals and grand ceremonial rooms. You can see the gleaming gold chedi at the heart of the Wat Saket compound long before you arrive at the hill from which it rises (appropriately enough called the Golden Mount). At 58 meters, it’s an impressive sight. Climb the 318 steps to the cupola and enjoy magnificent panoramic views of Bangkok.
The Guggenheim’s iconic, sensuously curved Frank Lloyd Wright building, on Fifth Avenue, is every bit as thrilling inside, as its home to some of the world’s most desirable art from the past hundred years. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street) contains art from all corners of the globe – and all centuries, dating back to the fifth century BC. MoMa (The Museum of Modern Art) has recently enjoyed a major facelift, and refresh of its permanent exhibitions. Specializing in art from the 20th and 21st centuries, MoMa often courts controversy with its headline-grabbing modern art.
Housed in the landmark clock tower People’s Square, with a fabulous 1930s interior, Shanghai’s vibrant art museum contains a collection spanning modern, traditional, and temporary exhibits over 12 galleries – and is also home to a buzzy restaurant on the fifth floor. MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is a striking new steel and glass building housing Chinese and international conceptual art, sculpture, painting and installations, while the Shanghai Museum of Arts and Crafts features artists’ studios, workshops and elegant galleries.
Glasgow is Scotland’s most dynamic and creative city. The Modern Institute is committed to finding, and bringing to the world’s attention, the most exciting emerging Glaswegian artists. Derelict for two decades, the Briggait is now a hive of creative energy housing artists and collectives working on visual art, circus skills, dance and performance. Trongate is a place to do, and to see, a diverse range of made in Glasgow creativity. The Gallery of Modern Art – or GoMA – to give it its cooler title, is Scotland’s most visited gallery. And it’s a bit of a belter. All the greats of contemporary art are present and correct.