Let's Paint the Town!
The term "monochrome town" evokes an image of a dreary gray industrial area. It is not always so! There are places around the world where residents agree to brighten things up with one beautiful color for their community. And there are other places where the citizens get together for more than one color as well! Let's look at painted towns around the world.
A few months ago, Juzcar was just another picturesque village in the Andalusia region of Spain. Now the town is a particular shade of blue -Smurf blue! Sony Pictures selected Juzcar to host the premiere of the new movie Smurfs 3D, and turned it into a Smurf Village for the occasion. Sony provided 4,000 liters of paint and a dozen painters to cover the town in Smurf blue. Sony has also agreed to pay the cost to return the town to its original colors after September, but some locals are considering keeping the blue. After all, tourists seem to like it. Image by Flickr user Jose Luis Canorea.
Juzcar is finding that blue is a nice color for a town, but other towns knew that already. The ancient town of Chefchaoen in Morocco served as a refuge for Jews during the Spanish Reconquista in the Middle Ages. Jewish refugees who fled Europe during the 1930s revived their neighborhoods in Chefchaoen by using a blue tinted whitewash on their homes. The color caught on, and now much of the town appears washed in a light blue rinse. Image by Flickr user Natasha Wheatland.
In the desert state of Rajasthan in India, the city of Jodhpur stands out as a patch of blue. The reason for the blue color is uncertain, but many think that the upper caste Brahmins painted their homes blue to separate them from the lower castes, but like all good ideas, the decor spread to other neighborhoods. Blue may have been chosen as an opposite to the desert surrounding the city, but that's just a theory. Image by Flickr user Michael Foley.
The great Monastery of Izamal is the centerpiece of the town of Izamal, Mexico. The monastery is painted yellow, and the majority of the other public buildings and businesses match, as well as many homes. It is known as "The Yellow City." Image by Flickr user Keith Walbolt.
In the case of Falun, Sweden, there is a very good reason to "paint the town red," so to speak. Falun is the center of Sweden's copper mining region, and one of the byproducts of that mining is a type of paint developed there known as Falu Red. The red comes from the hematite in the paint, and it became known worldwide as an effective wood preservative, which is why it became a traditional color for barns. Falun homes were painted red beginning in the 16th century. Image by Flickr user Andrew Stawarz.
Prague in the Czech Republic is known for its photogenic red roofs. In the year 1689, a huge fire engulfed the city, destroying many of its buildings, which were then rebuilt in Baroque style with red clay roof tiles. Although the city now boasts many architectural styles, the traditional red roofs are usually included in any renovation or new construction. Image by Flickr user Sebastian Anthony.
A little creativity goes a long way, even with more conventional housing colors. Two years ago, artist Felice Varini convinced the people of Vercorin, Switzerland to let him paint arcs on their homes. The result looked like a jumble from most angles, but from a very specific spot, this optical illusion emerged.
The buildings of Ramenskoye, near Moscow, are a riot of color. A large block of apartment buildings are painted with brightly-colored rainbows and scenes, but there is very little information about how they came about. Image by Sergei 'Sturman' Poletaev via Wikipedia.
There are quite a few other colorful cities and towns well worth checking out, where there's a tradition of painting homes and public buildings in various bright colors, such as Riomaggiore, Italy, Longyearbyen, Norway, and Lima, Peru. Look for them on your next world tour or right here on the internet!