Some of the most charming and colorful streets from cities around the world

Colmar, France. By Xiyang Xing – CC BY 2.0

While architecture of the 21st century is often focused on constructing massive buildings and designing the world’s tallest residential and futuristic skyscrapers, some historical, vibrant streets around the world are a true breath of fresh air.

Widely regarded as one of the most romantic towns in the world, Colmar in France is known for its colorful architecture. The cobblestone streets in the Old Town give the impression of walking in a fairytale village.

The town’s charming look is accentuated by the hanging baskets and flowers lining every street and the half-timbered medieval houses painted in a variety of bright colors that once indicated the owners’ occupation.

For instance, a farmer’s house was painted green, a fisherman’s house was blue, and a baker’s house was painted yellow.

The picturesque houses were constructed using the popular German technique of timber framing and they are adorned with characteristic French shutters.

In reference to the well-preserved medieval houses and the canal running through the Old Town area, Colmar is also known as Little Venice. Its streets are some of the most colorful in the world.

Colorful street in Colmar, France. Fonzie D. CC BY 2.0

Also in France, in the heart of Paris, is the charming cobblestoned street Rue Cremieux. When the street was first opened in 1865, it was called Avenue Millaud after the founder of Le Petit Journal, Polydore Millaud.

It was renamed in 1897 after Adolphe Crémieux, a French-Jewish lawyer and Jewish leader in the Revolution of 1848.

There is no historical reason for painting the façades of the two-story houses in yellow, green, pink, blue and purple; it is considered an imaginative creation by its residents.

Rue Cremieux in Paris, France. SpankyNew. CC BY 2.0

Rue Cremieux is very often compared to another vibrant neighborhood: the iconic Notting Hill in London.

Portobello Road and Lancaster Road are the most distinctive areas of Notting Hill. The streets are lined with beautiful colored houses, each painted in different shades, from bright colors to gentle pastels, with striking front doors.

Notting Hill is full of colorful houses. Camerawalker. CC BY 3.0

Arguably the most colorful town in the world is Burano, on an island near Venice, Italy. The narrow streets look like a rainbow, with houses painted in a huge variety of radiant colors.

According to local history, the residents painted their houses this way so that fishermen could easily find their way home after a day at sea, able to see the houses even in thick fog.

Burano, Italy. Houses painted in rich colors. Peter K Burian. CC BY-SA 4.0

The Moroccan town of Chefchaouen is known for its labyrinthine streets painted in shades that vary from very light to deep blue.

Although tables, chairs, carpets, and local pottery have different radiant colors, the streets remain blue, since the inhabitants believe that one color shows unity.

Blue street in Chefchaouen. محمد بوعلام عصامي. CC BY-SA 4.0

Exactly why the town is painted blue is a subject of some debate; some scholars suggest that Jews introduced the blue color, as it represents the sky and heaven.

However, many locals don’t seem to agree with this theory, as they are convinced the blue color is chosen because it gives a cooling sensation in the hot climate and keeps the mosquitoes away.

Rainbow Village in Taiwan. Steven R. Barringer. CC BY-SA 4.0

Caihongjuan, or Rainbow Village, in Taichung, Taiwan is a street that was once home to former veterans. There are only four or five houses left, whose simple walls were decorated with primitive-style paintings of children, animals, aliens, and spirits by a 93-year-old grandfather.

Now known as the Rainbow Grandpa, he was an ex-military officer himself and began painting there after finding out the government had plans to demolish the area.

Due to his creative work, the village was saved and this colorful street is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Taichung.

Colorful street in Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa. jack wickes. CC BY-ND 2.0

Another colorful street is located in the Bo Kaap neighborhood of Cape Town. The brightly hued homes were originally white, and it is not known when and why its residents began painting the houses in vivid colors.

Today, the street is lined with houses painted in different colors, with lemon yellow, lime green, lipstick pink, violet, and sky blue being some of the most popular options.

Painted ladies in San Francisco. Jennifer Boyer. CC BY-ND 2.0

And last but not least, Steiner Street in San Francisco has its famous “Painted Ladies”. The row of colorful Victorian houses built in the late 1880s is also known as Postcard Row.

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Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, lived in one of these picturesque houses.