Embark on your happiest travels to destinations drenched in every hue of the colour palette
Can you imagine a world without colour? Nor can these cities, which are home to some of the most vibrant sights in the world. More often than not, these multi-coloured sights are hidden away in many anunsuspecting city, and adorn structures from residences to towns, to murals and installations. Sometimes, these quirks are initiatives of creative spirits, while some projects are decreed by the government as a move to uplift the morale of the people.
No drab and grey landscapes here – these places seek only to brighten your day and put a smile on your face.
Happy Rizzi Haus, Braunschweig, Germany
In the historical German city of Braunschweig, the Happy Rizzi Haus sticks out like a sore thumb, unapologetically vivid and cheerful (to old folk, infantile) among the old-world European buildings and landscape. It was only a matter of time before denizens of both young and old came to adore this cluster of three colourful buildings by American ‘pop art idol’ James Rizzi, possibly his largest artwork to date. Much like a teasing friend, who can resist cracking a smile at the sight of buildings smothered with wacky shapes and goofy cartoon faces splashed on loud pink, yellow and green façades?
The Saguaro Hotel, Palm Springs, California
Step back into the 1970s, but a more vivid, technicolour one, when you venture into this boutique ‘motel’-style hotel in the desert of Palm Springs. Guests live in a perpetually eye-popping retro world, surrounded with charming, rainbow-coloured walls both on the interior and exterior of the hotel, bright orange parasols by the pool and funky décor that subtly inject a lively atmosphere. This partygoers-zone is also known for a Mexican-style menu by award-winning chef Jose Garces. Enter at your own risk – The Saguaro’s unabashed colour scheme has known to overwhelm some guests.
Every place is distinctly associated with a trademark colour, but Cuba is linked to all the colours in a candy store. An interesting use of pastel shades snake their way throughout Havana’s Spanish Colonial architecture and monuments, from shabby shop fronts, to large propaganda billboards and signs, right down to its dusty boulevards and narrow streets. Unsurprisingly, the town’s colourful disposition bounces off on the Cubans themselves, who, despite their political troubles, are famously affable and bubbly, dressed in their neon clothing.
La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Named after a 1926 tango song, La Boca is a charming neighbourhood famed for its bright colourful splashes of colour on every standing monument, besides its familiar scene of tango dancers spilling onto sidewalks, engrossed in their routines. It is also considered as the oldest and most authentic neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, attracting artist colonies and camera-wielding tourists. This working-class enclave at the mouth of the Riachuelo River was constructed from shipyard scrap materials, and its distinctive colour achieved with scavenged coats of paint.
Indian cities go by names other their own, and it is often called by their singular colours distinct throughout its architecture. The beauty of these colour-coded names is the story behind them. Jodhpur is India’s blue city, and has been painted so for a number of reasons. Some speculate that the sea of blue-tinged houses resulted from a caste system, while one theory is that blue keeps away the termites. However, locals revealed that the vivid hue keeps houses cool in the summer heat. Whatever it is, you have to see it to believe it.
Beyond the hustle and bustle of tourist-clogged central Venice, did you know a rainbow-hued island awaits just a 40-minute river cruise away? Legend has it that the buildings of this old fishermen pit stop was always painted in brilliant colours to guide them back through the thick fog. More interestingly, the houses and shops follow a specific colour system observed since Burano’s formative days. Should you need to recharge with fresh air, peace and quiet, and thinner crowds, leave Saint Mark’s Basilica and the narrow canals behind and make for Burano.
Notting Hill, England
With its posh atmosphere, fashionable crowd and charmingly colourful houses, it’s hard to believe that Notting Hill was once a gentrified slum. Today, Notting Hill is the place to be seen, with trendy market stalls and hip new cafes that creative, wealthy types to take up residence in the neighbourhood. People never tire of wandering past rows of these pastel-coloured homes, often stopping to admire each unique design and the beautifully manicured garden. This is the best place for long walks, a favourite English pastime.
Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil
Known as Salvador’s hidden gem, this historical city centre is a sight to behold with its colourful 17th- and 18th century buildings and resplendent churches. Pastel shades plaster the carefully-restored colonial Portuguese architecture in an environment thriving with culture and various artistic and musical attractions.
Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa
The colourful town of Bo-Kaap was never made to be a tourist attraction – rather, it was born out of a historic Cape Malay tradition. On the last day of Ramadan each year, the Muslim community would repaint their houses in preparation of Eid al-Fitr (the festival of the breaking of fast). Beforehand, they would discuss their colours to prevent colour clashing. Little did they realise this practice would turn it into a world-famous attraction, with its buildings of lilac, canary yellow, green and cobalt blue and the Table Mountain as a background.
St. John’s, Newfoundland
Affectionately nicknamed Jellybean Row, the story of these colourful clustered Victorian rowhouses has been subject to various interpretations too. It is said that ship captains assigned their homes with a specific colour to make it visible from sea, while others claim that these shades guide fishermen home through the thick fog. What makes these buildings even more romantic is the Victorian structures of white-trimmed windows and doors that sets this town apart from its fellow colourful ones.