Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know we’re on a mission to seek out the world’s beautiful places, both through our own travels and our guest bloggers. So when we were contacted by a guy who has developed his own system to rank how beautiful a city is, we were very intrigued. This is his story, and we also reveal for the very first time what cities have come out top…
What makes a city beautiful? Innumerable theories have been offered by aesthetic philosophers, architects, city planners, environmental psychologists, and others. I became curious as to whether “common threads” can be found in the writings of 40 of the most famous commentators on civic beauty, from the Ancient Greeks up to the present.
To make a (very) long story short, my research culminated in the identification of 15 common threads. These common threads can be used to evaluate the beauty of urban places such as “Elegance” – how refined a city is, “Originality” and “Synergy” – the simultaneous stimulation of several of our five senses!
I have used these 15 common threads to categorize hundreds of beautiful sites in 15 cities worldwide. I have also developed a method for scoring the quality of those sites and accumulating the scores into an overall Cities Beautiful Index for each city. Here are the results using my methodology:
Number 1 – Paris (score of 70)
Joint number 2 – Kyoto (score of 67)
Joint number 2 – Istanbul (score of 67)
Number 3 – San Francisco (score of 64)
Joint number 4 – Rome (score of 62)
Joint number 4 – Athens (score of 62)
Number 5 – Budapest (score of 61)
Joint number 6 – Buenos Aires (score of 60)
Joint number 6 – Rio De Janeiro (score of 60)
Joint number 7 – Vancouver (score of 58)
Joint number 7 – Cape Town (score of 58)
Joint number 8 – Hong Kong (score of 57)
Joint number 8 – Barcelona (score of 57)
Number 9 – Jerusalem (score of 56)
Number 10 – Sydney (score of 48)
Written by Gil Castle. If you would like to know more about this ranking system visit the website CitiesBeautiful.org which summarizes all his research and provides interactive maps of the several hundred categorized sites in the above cities. Since “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, the website also has a series of multiple-choice questions (something quite like a Myers Briggs personality assessment test) that visitors can use to determine their favourites among the 15 common threads.