Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre (“the five lands”) is a portion of coast on the Italian Riviera composed of five villages, built on terraces that overlook the sea. Pictured is the village of Manarola.
A small island located in the southern Aegean Sea off Greece’s southeastern coast, Santorini is renowned for its blue-roofed, whitewashed architecture, killer sunsets, and its fascinating volcanic activity.
Burano, Venice, Italy
Burano is located about 4 miles from the city of Venice. The colors of the houses are subject to a strict, government-regulated system; one must submit a formal request to paint one’s home, and the government will respond with a specific set of colors acceptable for that particular property.
A mountain town in northwestern Morocco, Chefchaouen (or just “Chaouen” to the locals) is named for the mountain peaks above the town, which have the appearance of two goat horns (“chaoua”). The countryside surrounding this city is renowned as a prolific source of kief; in fact, the region is one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco.
This Chilean port city, also known as “Little San Francisco” and “The Jewel of the Pacific,” is where Chile’s National Congress has convened since 1990. Valparaiso is home to South America’s very first fire department, as well as a famed and elaborate system of funicular elevators.
SANTA MARTA, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
The Favela Painting Project is an ongoing Kickstarter campaign to improve the feel and appearance of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (shanty towns). Their first (very successful) painting project was executed at Santa Marta, and they continue to recruit local youths to help beautify the city.
ST. JOHN’S, NEWFOUNDLAND, CANADA
With its hilly terrain and labyrinth of streets, this “San Francisco of Canada” has been inhabited from the 16th century onward. The majority of the city is protected as historical landmark, as it is considered the oldest English settlement in North America to have expanded into a city.
In the province of Málaga in southern Spain, Júzcar was originally one of the “White Towns of Andalusia” until 2011, when Sony Pictures used 1,100 gallons of blue paint to cover the town as a promotion for the upcoming Smurfs movie. This increased tourism to the location by about 533% in the 6 months after the stunt, and despite Sony’s offer to return the town to its historic white, residents voted to keep it blue.
PELOURINHO, SALVADOR, BRAZIL
Located at the center of the historic district in Salvador, Bahia, Pelourinho was painted as part of a cultural revival project. Today, it is a center for the arts, featuring daily events like musical performances, dances, short plays, and live band practices as part of the Pelourinho Night and Day Project.
BO-KAAP, CAPE TOWN, AFRICA
Formerly the Malay Quarter, Bo-Kaap was one of the original hubs of Malay culture, the original movement to bring Islam to South Africa. Today, property in Bo-Kaap is a hot commodity, with increasing gentrification stemming from the recent economic prosperity of Cape Town.
The largest city in western Poland, Wroclaw has historically changed hands several times, from the Kingdom of Poland, to Bohemia, the Austrian Empire, Prussia, Germany, and back to Poland in 1945. It is also a regular host for major European and world sporting events, and has been named a “European Capital of Culture” for 2016.
GUANAJUATO CITY, GUANAJUATO, MEXICO
Known as one of the most colorful cities in Mexico, Guanajuato has a long history of art (as the birthplace of Diego Rivera, and home of Jose Chavez Morado and Olga Costa). It is also known for its Majolica pottery, done in the traditional Spanish style for the past 400 years, and the brightly hand-painted ceramics of Tarandacuao, located in Guanajuato state’s lowlands.
STACKED VILLAGE COMPLEX FOR NUNS IN KHAM, TIBET
Founded in 1459, the “Sun City” of India is another curiously blue construct on the edge of the desert. The blue paint practice is thought to have originated from Brahmins (high priests in the Indian caste system) painting their homes blue to distinguish them as a holier status than the surroundings, a trend that then caught on for the balance of the city.