4 Oct,2018 By Jagabond
Street art speaks to politics, passion and personality. It can be raw or incredibly detailed, and often captures the character of the city or town where it resides. Back in college I had a roommate who was a graffiti artist, so I fell in love with this style early on. When I started traveling Europe I admired street art at train stations, gritty back alleys and otherwise ordinary city blocks. Whereas many tourists flock to art museums, I prefer the outdoor medium.
I was inspired by a fellow travel blogger, who posted some great street art from Miami. I’ve identified what I consider to be the finest examples of European street art that I was lucky to see for myself. Here they are, in no particular order.
1. Salerno, Italy – I like both cats and mermaids, so no surprise this piece caught my eye. It sat hidden on a side street that I happened to wander upon…who doesn’t love chance encounters?
2. Madrid, Spain – I talked my friends into walking down a shady alley during the daytime to photograph this piece. The twin damsels were memorable, as were the pleasing shades of blue and orange.
3. Lisbon, Portugal – What might this represent? A statement on relationships? A glimpse of a possible future? Regardless of the artist’s intent, the pairing of a socialite woman with a robot was intriguing.
4. Amsterdam, Netherlands – I like the contrast here. Progressive woman with wild makeup and flashy breasts placed next to a more conservative, demure type.
5. Ghent, Belgium – There is a street in Ghent that is loaded with graffiti art. I’m a comic book fan, so these supermen grabbed my attention. Are they both evil or just the Russian one?
6. Basel, Switzerland – There is beauty in simplicity, as is the case of this skate park in Basel, right outside my YMCA hostel. No risk, no fun…words to live by!
7. Naxos, Greece – While touring Greek towns I stumbled upon this gem. Blue and white is a common color theme on these islands, and the coupling with the door is genius.
8. Porto, Portugal – Sometimes there is no reason. I’m not sure who this is, or what it represents…but I liked it.
9. Keflavik, Iceland – When I think of Iceland, my mind conjures up images of volcanoes, waterfalls, puffins and…street art? In a country more known for nature, this cool sci-fi piece was unexpected.
10. Krakow, Poland – Our tour guide described this mural as the pope speaking to the masses. Judging by the ‘never follow’ statement it appears the artist wasn’t a fan of the Catholic Church. The famous John Paul II was from nearby Krakow, so strong opinions on both sides are likely common here.
11. Sant’Agata de Goti, Italy – Do you prefer white or red? This beautiful creation links the two different wine lovers. The romantic vibe is striking.
12. Tartu, Estonia – A cartoonish red dragon? Visiting Estonia during the icy winter makes you dream of a dragon’s fiery breath.
13. Barcelona, Spain – Full disclosure…this isn’t technically in the street, but inside a cool dive bar called ‘Nevermind‘ that has a wild style theme. Nothing says romance like Chewbacca holding roses and a six pack of beer.
14. Berlin, Germany – I remember having a bad day in Berlin when I came across this…all the happy hearts seemed to brighten my mood!
15. Lviv, Ukraine – This city is the next big thing in Europe, I predict. The youth culture is strong here, with unique street art, craft beer and hip themed restaurants and pubs.
16. Riga, Latvia – I turned the corner down a lonely side street and was welcomed by Romeo and Juliet.
17. Prague, Czech Republic – The ‘Lennon Wall’ contains quotes from the famous Beatle together with street art that’s constantly being updated. When I was there they had a section dedicated to the victims of the Boston marathon bombing.
18. Azores, Portugal – The port of Horta on Faial Island is home to murals done by transient sailors. Spend an hour walking around and see the marks of those who came before you.
19. Thessaloniki, Greece – I crashed a wedding and saw this artwork adjacent to the church. Hopefully this isn’t a harbinger of what the new husband can expect!
20. Tirana, Albania – A lovely statement on love…holding one’s heart in your hands.
21. Quadrelle, Italy – I see this every day on my drive home from work. This is a shout out to those small town artists who never made it to a big city.
Mark your calendars now!