7 European Cities Featuring The Best Street Art
Many of Europe’s great cities have embraced street art more than ever before. Some people believe graffiti is destructive, others think it adds to a city’s character. While it is still banned in most places to post graffiti without a property owner’s permission, these seven European cities and towns feature exciting street art displays that tend to be championed rather than opposed.
1. Berlin – Germany
The East Side Gallery was once the Berlin Wall, and now it is the longest open-air gallery in the world. At 1316 metres long, the gallery on the banks of the Spree is the longest continuous section of the Berlin Wall still in existence. Immediately after the wall came down, 118 artists from 21 countries began painting the East Side Gallery, and it officially opened as a gallery in 1990. Just over a year later, it was given protected memorial status.
2. Barcelona – Spain
Barcelona is famed for having been home to some of Europe’s most renowned artists, from Pablo Picasso to Salvador Dalí. Today the city is home to many prestigious museums and galleries celebrating its artistic legacy. But it’s not only in the confines of buildings that the artistic tradition lives on; Barcelona is home to a thriving street art scene. The Gothic Quarter, Barcelona’s most historic neighbourhood is home to some of the most exquisite street art. The result is a blend of old and new, as artists made the most of the impressive backdrops to showcase their best work.
3. Orgosolo, Sardinia - Italy
The Orgosolo murals emerged in the late 1960s and became a significant expression of the social discontent. The first mural in Orgosolo was carried out in 1969 by Dionisio, an anarchist theatrical troupe from Milan. It questioned the role of the island in the Italian government's policy. After the idea of mural spread in the small village, a local teacher, Francesco Del Casino, played an important role, as the early works were carried out by his students. Later on, more experienced workers took the job, making the murals more elaborate both in style and content. Nowadays, the Orgosolo murals recognized as cultural heritage. Learn more about the significance of the large, colourful murals that adorn the houses and shops of Orgosolo on our Sardinia & Corsica, the Lands of Myths and Legends tour.
4. Prague – The Czech Republic
After his murder in December 1980, John Lennon became a pacifist hero for many young Czech. Since then, this once typical wall has been filled with John Lennon inspired graffiti, lyrics from Beatles' songs, and designs relating to local and global causes. Despite the secret police's repeated efforts to paint over the graffiti, they never managed to keep it clean for long, and the Lennon Wall became a political focus for Prague youth. Today, visiting tourists make their own contributions, including more Lennon images and political messages aimed at current politicians.
5. London – United Kingdom
Shoreditch, located about 6 kilometres from the centre of London was once considered a grungy area. Today it claims to be integral in the origins of street art as we know today. Initially, the abandoned brick buildings were defaced with prolific graffiti, however, that all changed when the famous anonymous street artist, Banksy, emerged with his early works in the streets and lanes of Shoreditch. Local artists took courage from his work, and gradually the area started to see more cultural and political artworks. Now supported by the local council, street art is found everywhere, with Brick Lane at the centre of it all.
6. Lisbon - Portugal
Street art has long been a part of Lisbon’s culture. Until the 18th century, there was a tradition of all-white buildings. After the earthquake of 1755, richer areas began to incorporate colour and tiles into walls and pavements. Early graffiti was perhaps the poor man's equivalent. Following the democratic revolution in 1974, this self-expression increased. Now, tags and scribbles cover the streets. More recently, the vast collection of graffiti art turned out to be the Crono Project's work, which is commissioning artists to transform neglected buildings in the business district instead of abandoning Lisbon's crumbling heritage to the developers. To find the best street art in Lisbon, use this app to find more than 160 pieces across the city.
7. Paris - France
Paris doesn’t just embrace art within the city’s galleries and museums; murals also flourish on the walls that line its streets. The French capital is home to pieces made by many international muralists, among them English born Banksy, the elusive artist who took his message on refugee migration to Paris's streets in June 2018. From Oberkampf to Belleville to the 13th arrondissement, street art has become a familiar part of the beloved City of Lights.