Cultural tour destinations are scattered across the globe. Foundations of civilization laid way back into the ancient past have bloomed into cultural hotspots, drawing tourists, art enthusiasts and culture buffs in waves. An attempt has been made to list out ten top cultural destinations as cited below:
Italy ranks high up in the list as a prime destination for cultural tourism. A cultural trip to Italy is incomplete without seeing the Colosseum. Also known as the Flavian amphitheatre, this is an elliptical stone and concrete structure located in Rome. Truly an engineering feat, the colosseum is a World Heritage site and is the largest of its kind. This ancient stadium was built by Titus, a Roman architect and was chiefly meant for gladiatorial combats. It sees visits by a large number of enthusiastic tourists every year. The coliseum was started by the Roman emperor Vespasian and his heir Titus completed the awe inspiring project. The legendary paintings of ‘The Last Supper’ and ‘Monalisa’ by Leonardo Da Vinci are huge attractions. Among the connoisseurs of art ,these two gripping works seem to be the ultimate target in their fiery quest. While the former is located in the refectory of the convent of Santa Maria Della Grazie in Milan, the latter, though originally an Italian work of art had been acquired by the French King Francis I and is now located in the Louvre museum in Paris. Both of these 15th Century creations were absolute stunners in the art world. Rome and other Italian cities like Florence and Milan have a number of world famous art galleries. Galleria Nazionale D’ Arte Antica is an enchanting gallery in Rome spread over two sites Palazzo Bernini and Palazzo Corsini. Both the galleries have a rich collection of art works by the Italian masters like Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Carravaggio and Tintoretto. Museums of Piedmont region of Italy are Musco Archeologico del Canavese showcasing artifacts from Canavese area of Piedmont dating back to prehistoric era. Museo Archeologico Chiomante La Maddalena is famous for relics unearthed in a prehistoric settlement, while constructing a highway to France. Homo Et Ibex Museum is famous for preserves of the relationship between man and ibex, the sure footed mountain goat from primitive times.
France is culturally rich and artistically exquisite. It is an art lover’s dream destination. It is in the Louvre museum in Paris where the world famous portrait of Monalisa, done in oil is displayed. Despite the paintings of Italian origin by the legendary Leonardo Da Vinci, it is in Paris the art lover needs to visit to have a glimpse of this divine work of art. France sees a huge scale of cultural tourist round the year. The French cuisine, culture, murals, architecture and language have always fascinated the tourists around the world. Equally arresting is the French fashion, perfumes and of course a wide range of legendary wines coming from the finest vineyards. 37 World Heritage sites as declared by UNESCO make France the cynosure of European cultural hub. Cultural attractions centre on Paris, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon and other French metropolis of worldwide fame. Even the French country sides decked with picturesque hamlets, lush meadows and unspoilt greeneries make France a prime destination for green tourism. Tranquility and a feel for artistic finesse practically ring in the air. The rustic charm and music, the folklores and fables point towards an unmistakably rich cultural tradition. The Eiffel Tower located in Paris rises up to a towering height of over 90 meters. It is indeed an astounding engineering marvel. Designed and constructed by the architect Stefan Sauvestre, this iron lattice structure took two years to complete, starting in 1887. It consists of 3 floors and is reached 9 operating elevators. This the tallest structure in Paris and is an international cultural landmark. It holds the record of being the most visited monument of worldwide repute in terms of entry fees collected for tourist ascent. The tower is named after Gustav Eiffel, the owner of the company accredited with the conception of design and construction. French Riviera located in south eastern France accounts for over 10 million tourists and is certainly a French cultural icon. It is a sunny stretch of 115 km coastline beach having 18 holed golf courses, ski resorts and 3000 eateries serving terrific wine and fine dining. The wonderful Chateaux, museums and monuments make France a much sought after cultural tour destination. The museums of the Louvre and Orsay boast of the finest art collections. The architectural stunners of the French abbeys, majestic cathedrals, convents and Chauteaux such as Blois and Chantilly of the past era, charm the tourists and so does the new age structural master pieces like Centre Georges Pompidou and Arch At La Defense. They hold the tourists spell bound with their design intricacies.
Spain boasts of being the third major hit with the tourists, exhibiting an immense wealth of European culture. With 42 mind boggling world heritage sites, Spain is literally adorned with cultural marvels. Museums, theatres and monuments make Spain a cultural tourists dream destination. The tone of Spanish culture is high and refined as it is diverse as well. It has a touch of Moslem flavor, as once, it had been under the dominance of Moslem rule. The Iberian Peninsula was under the Arab administrative control in pre Hispanic days. Influence of Islamic art has its impact on Spanish architecture and monuments. The range of Spanish performing arts is a feast to the eyes. Bullfight is no doubt a powerful cultural icon. But the gore and slaughter that follows has been drawing protests from the champions of wild life from different corners of the globe. Even the language of this nation has received world wide acceptance dominating most of Latin America, Spain in Europe as far as to the Philippines in the Far East. Spain has produced some of the great artists like Pablo Picasso, Salvadore Dali, Velazquez, Cervantes, Goya and Miro, to name only a few. Their immortal works have left the world of art enchanted. Their creations command considerable respect among art lovers and in literary circles. One striking feature of Spain’s unique culture is its large reserve of insects, the first of its kind. The Spanish cinema grips the world of movie buffs like a storm and boasts of a culturally rich genre. In Madrid, the nation’s capital, some of the world’s best art galleries are located.The capital city’s famous museums are the Prado, The Thyssen – Bornemisza, the Reing Sofia and the Sorolla. Exploring cultural Spain remains unfulfilled without a taste of the flamenco dance. It is a form of Spanish folk music conjuring up pure magic. Here we have the vibration of guitar strings accompanied with graceful dance moves with a rhythmic foot tapping. It is a product of the Andalusia region of Southern Spain and is almost a cultural identity of the nation.
D) Great Britain:
The popularity of Great Britain as an attractive cultural tour destination is a fact to reckon with. The British soil nurturing the lives of the literary genius’ like William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw could be the right country to launch an expedition to cultural tourism. Exploring more about English literature, the wealth inherent in writings become apparent and legendary masterpieces like Oliver Twist and David Copperfield are born. Likewise works of Thomas Hardy enriches the cultural aspects of English literature. The world heritage monuments like the Big Ben set within Clock Tower of London bridges over river Thames are architectural wonders as they are powerful cultural logos as well for tourist attraction. These elaborately designed works of genius speak volumes about the prosperous British culture. Up North, the Scottish culture with their colorful dances and banquets in the amazing Caledonian style are sure shot winners. The wealth of Celtic language has a commanding influence over British culture and promotes cultural tourism in Britain.
Chinese culture is not only rich but also has its roots in the country’s chequered and evolutionary history. It is one of the foremost tourist destinations in the world. The preservation and evolution of Chinese history, ethnic culture, material and surreal heritage are expressions of the very quintessence of Chinese tradition, augmenting its image among tourists. The Forbidden City palace museum is located right in the heart of Beijing. It displays the illustrious portrait of Mao Zedong hanging from splendid crimson walls. The great wall is a legendary feat and truly a Chinese cultural icon. It runs over a length of 5500 miles and a must visit site for tourists to China, out on a cultural exploration. The array of life sized statues of soldiers, sculpted in terracotta is a classic example of Chinese art. The museum of terracotta army is located in Xi An, Shanxi province. To acquire the taste of modernity of Chinese culture, Hong Kong and the city of Shanghai are must see destinations. The high end malls, luxurious hotels, cutting edge technology and the sky scrapers leave the tourist wonderstruck, as does the Beijing Opera which keeps the audience enthralled with hypnotic music, theatrical shows, mimes and dances.
The land of the great thinkers like Aristotle and Herodotus, Greece has a tradition of splendid culture molded over time. Sketches of history are engraved in every corner of Greece. Artifacts unearthed from the prehistoric and archaic periods, unique works from classical, medieval, Hellenistic and byzantine monuments, creations from folk art and cultures influence of other contemporary cultures and modern paintings and sculpting has made Greece a cultural tourism benchmark. The Acropolis museum, Phillippi and Thessaloniki Archeological sites, the Greek National Opera ,the museum of Byzantine culture are wonderful experiences while touring Greece.
India is certainly a glowing spot in the global map of cultural tourism. Cultural tourism is in fact the driving force behind India’s immense popularity in the tourists circle. India has been rightly considered a land of ancient history and traditional culture. In the western part of India, Rajasthan is noted for its rich cultural heritage. Numerous magnificent palaces inlaid with rich and ornate designs exist, as does the legendary citadels .Rajasthan is the hub of Rajput culture known for values of chivalry, valor and self esteem. Rajasthani local folk songs, melas and festivals are a definite lure for the cultural enthusiast. Tamil Nadu, located in Southern India is a seat of Dravidian culture. It is dotted with beautiful temples vibrant with rituals and hymns and a clear reflection of a passionate cultural heritage. Famous temples of Mahaballipuram on the shores of Bay of Bengal and temples of Kanchipuram are cultural hotspots. Located in the eastern part of India, West Bengal is a seat of culture and learning. Rabindra Nath Tagore was the distinguished noble laureate from Bengal. Santiniketan, his model dream institution for imparting effective education and lessons in fine arts and music have bloomed into a University known as Viswavarati. The famous Indian museum is located in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. It is a piece of sensation showcasing archeological finds, cultural wonders, preserved animal remains and a wide range of ancient and contemporary paintings, sculptures, murals and other priceless artifacts.
The awe inspiring enormous Egyptian edifices are a terrific sensation. No place in the world can match the feeling, enigma and thrill that an imposing Egyptian monument can have on the tourists. The Pyramid of Giza, the mysterious Sphinx, the treasure trove of the ancient kings and the mummy of Tutankhamen are some of the wonders which cast a magical spell on the visiting tourists. Now, predominantly a Muslim country, ancient Egypt believed in polytheism that found expression in the worship of multiple deities often with a mixed body parts of animals, birds and human beings. Ancient Egyptians considered cat and crocodile as divine creatures. To them death was a transient phase in a journey towards a more fulfilling life. They mummified the dead and preserved them with nameless potion. Mummification was a vital part of ancient Egyptian culture and philosophy. There are impressive museums showcasing the brilliant Egyptian artifacts, mummification methods, specimen of human mummies and a range of precious work of art. In the backdrop of the setting sun and sand dunes, Egypt offers an awesome mix of mystery, ancient culture and art that arrests the tourist absolutely.
Mexico enjoys a pivotal position so far as cultural tourism goes. World famous archeological sites at Tutum, Chichen, Itza, Palenque or Monte Alban are declared as World Heritage sites by UNESCO. The reminiscence of the Mayan cultural relic, make their daunting presence felt. Black clay artwork from Oaxaca, the musical instruments crafted in Paracho, the leather products of Guanajuato are exquisite pieces of handicrafts designed by Huichol Indians. The Mayan pyramids were sacrificial temples and were constructed as a mark of veneration to sun god. In and around Mexico City, there exists numerous cathedrals of artistic built. Mexico is truly a culture enthusiast’s paradise.
Major cities of America expose the tourist to a certain degree of style, art and a culture refined enough. Dallas is a centre for North Texan art. Many an up and coming artists have their roots in the district of Cedar. Dallas museum of art, Morton H Myerson Symphony centre and Nasher sculpture centers are some of the eminent hotspots of American art & culture. New York commands the apex position and is a cultural hub in the US. It has got a number of art institutions, a new museum of contemporary Art on Bowery downtown, the museum of modern art in Midtown and world famous galleries like Phillips de Pury & Co in Chelsea rule the American art scenario. There is an abundant scope of getting exposure to great symphony, film and dance programs. Los Angeles and the famed Hollywood are cities presenting refined culture and style. It is the movie studio capital of the world!