The world's most colourful neighbourhoods

AOL Travel

Venice landmark, Burano island canal, colorful houses and boats,
Venice landmark, Burano island canal, colorful houses and boats,

Question: What do the Old town of Jaipur, the shipyards of Buenos Aires and the Mayor of Tirana have in common?

Answer: They've all helped create some of the most colourful neighbourhoods in the world.

To celebrate some of the prettiest, most vibrant wonders of the urban world, we got together with our friends at travel search site Momondo to find the cream of the crop, all of them dazzling - and many of them eccentric - in their own way.

Santa Marta, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

It would be an exaggeration to say that the ghettos of Rio de Janeiro are blessed with a winning reputation. But this is something the artist duo Haas & Hahn have been trying to transform with their project, Favela Painting.

Equipped with nothing more than some government grants, a few thousand gallons of paint and the help of skilled locals, these once-ramshackle neighbourhoods have been given a new lease of life, with anything from a single mural to a whole street transformed with a beaming blast of colour. In Rio's south zone, the artists painted parts of the Santa Marta favela in rainbow-bright colours to boost community pride and spirit.

With the ongoing project now in its 10th year, the winning artist duo have taken their paintbrushes to the US to clean up the streets of Northern Philadelphia.

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Ok, so this is one of Italy's biggest tourism magnets - but with good reason. Manarola is the oldest of the five medieval fishing villages in the Cinque Terre on the Liguarian coast. The brightly coloured village is built on cliffs and surrounded by steep terraces that overlook the azure Mediterranean.

Traditional moroccan architectural details in Chefchaouen, Morocco, Africa
Traditional moroccan architectural details in Chefchaouen, Morocco, Africa

Chefchaouen, Morrocco

High in the Rif Mountains in Morocco's Berber country lies an azure haven. Nicknamed The Blue Pearl, the small town of Chefchaouen is famous for its astounding turquoise, labyrinthine medina.
Just like Balat (below), Chefchaouen was a refuge for Jews escaping the Spanish Inquisition. To keep their houses cool and ward off insects, the residents began painting the lower half of their buildings blue (by far the prettiest solution to air conditioners and insecticide we've heard of). Today the mountain city is a wonderful palette of blue buildings offering stunning valley views.

La Boca, Beuenos Aires, Argentina

One of Argentina's oldest working-class neighbourhood of Buenos Aires is famed for its sensual tango, its frenzied football club Boca Juniors, and its many colours.

Situated at the mouth of the river Riachuelo, the neighbourhood used to house several shipyards which provided scrap materials such as planks, metal and paint, all of which was used as building materials for the colourful tin-roofed houses. Sheds lean against each other in a kaleidoscope of pinks, yellows and blue pastels, and despite the hordes of tourists, La Boca remains a working class neighbourhood.

Legend has it that when choosing their team colours, Boca Juniors decided to use those of the next ship that rolled into La Boca port. That ship happened to be Swedish, resulting in the team adopting yellow and blue as their new team colours.


Tirana, Albania

What do you do if you become the mayor of a city full of grey concrete buildings from the communist era? One solution is to give the city a colourful makeover. That's exactly what Tirana's then mayor, Edi Rama. did in 2000, as part of his Clean and Green project (he's now Prime Minister of Albania).

Today there are several buildings in what has come to be known as 'Edi Rama colours' (bright pink, yellow, green and violet), scattered across the Albanian capital.

Tirana is also the hot new place in Momondo's cool summer destinations scene.

Jaipur, India

In 1876, the ruler of Jaipur ordered the city be painted pink to welcome the arrival of Edward, Prince of Wales. To this day, residents in the Old Town are lawfully prohibited from painting over any of the neighbourhood's pink buildings, meaning that nearly 150 years later, the Rajasthani capital's traditionally rosy hue is still sparkling.

Bo Kaap, Cape Town

As one of the most ethnically diverse cities south of the equator, Cape Town hosts a hotchpotch of cultures, traditional architectural styles and all the splashes of colour that come with it. These wonderful contradictions are none more clear than in the radiant neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap.
The residential area is home to Cape Town's Muslim community, who play house in some of the city's finest examples of nineteenth-century Dutch and Georgian terraces. Residents began painting their homes in inviting pastoral hues to celebrate the end of apartheid. Today, property in Bo-Kaap is in high demand and it's not hard to understand why.

Balat, Istanbul, Turkey

Known as Istanbul's old Jewish quarter, Balat offers a kaleidoscope of colours. Tucked away on the shores of the Golden Horn, the Jews here after their expulsion from Spain in the 15th century. Over the centuries, the area attracted a wide variety of residents, and is today one of Istanbul's most atmospheric neighbourhoods.

With a wonderfully rich history comes colours aplenty - and in recent years, the century-old Ottoman houses of red, blues and greens have been brought back to their former shining glory. In the wake of the facelift, Balat has become one of the coolest places for a summer stroll, with several chic cafés, boutiques and art galleries popping up on its winding street corners.

Want to see more? Check out our slideshow below.

Oh, and don't miss the world's most colourful beaches...

Related articles

Pictures: Coloured ice caves in China

Rainbow-coloured hot spring becomes huge hit with tourists

Colourful beach hut clashes with council

Brazilians Paint Favela in National Colours
Brazilians Paint Favela in National Colours