Quiet canals meander the cobbled streets of Annecy. Colors slip down the facades, floating into the canals’ ripples, drifting out into the lake. One of the cleanest in Europe, it must certainly also be one of the prettiest. The stout, stone fortress glares over the orange rooftops of its town, a citadel lost in time. Artists sell their wares – paintings, photographs, jewellery, pottery. Vendors sell ice creams and chocolates to tourists while diners chat on sunny terraces, sipping beers and lemonades. The swans swim by, searching for the forgotten crumbs that tumble in the canals. The streets ring with people taking advantage of summer in the mountains. Like a scene from a painting, Annecy’s streets merrily portray summer bliss.
Didn’t immediately recognise this to be Spain? Look closely at the paintings themselves; there, you’ll see the artist’s rendition of the famed Sagrada Familia, the magnificent and unmatched final creation of Antoni Gaudi – itself, a work of art! Barcelona is full of art. On La Ramblas – Barcelona’s main street – you’ll find not only painter’s stands like this one, but street performers wearing intricate costumes, performing mini theatrics, dancing to original routines, singing known and unknown songs – and more. But it’s more than that: Barcelona as a city is a Work Of Art. The Block of Discord is a great example – an entire city block dedicated to “bizarre” buildings, snuggled right into the city centre. Let’s not forget the famous artist Pablo Picasso, who spent much of his life in this city, and considered the Catalan capital his “true home.” And of course, we have Gaudi’s masterpieces, all of which clearly escaped from the Candyland board game: Parc Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, not to mention the Sagrada Familia (a work of art STILL under construction). Let’s face it, the Spanish city is more than an urban centre – it is a dramatic nod to the arts, and an artistic creation in itself! In the words of Picasso himself: “Every child is born an artist, the problem is how to remain one.” The world would do well to remember that!
One of the most loaded (and iconic) places to visit in Europe is what remains of the Berlin Wall. For so many years, the Wall separated families, friends, co-workers, neighbours. Citizens of the same town were suddenly divided; the Wall literally split the city in half. And then, abruptly and very literally, the Wall fell. On the monumental day of November 9, 1989, the wall that had symbolised so much pain and caused so many horrors quite suddenly came crumbling down. The Berlin Wall had become nothing more than a few remaining sections of concrete, now worthless – little more than bygone symbols of pain and terror. But then something amazing happened. The city of Berlin invited artists from around the world to decorate the once-imposing wall. Each of the 106 paintings of the East Side Gallery carries a message – a message of freedom, of solidarity, of strength, of love, of patriotism, of humanity. They worked together to turn something negative – a symbol of all that was contrary to freedom and happiness – into something positive, a work of art celebrating a new era of Berlin, of Germany, of Europe. This painting by Sardinian-born artist Fulvio Pinna, “Ode to Joy,” was created to promote and recognise the new-found freedom of the now-reunited Berlin and, like the other 105 paintings, sends a powerful message to its millions of viewers.