Top 10 art and architecture destinations

LONDON Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:51am EDT

View of the glass pyramid, designed by Chinese-born U.S. Architect I.M. Pei, which is the entrance of the Louvre Museum in Paris on October 21, 2011. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

View of the glass pyramid, designed by Chinese-born U.S. Architect I.M. Pei, which is the entrance of the Louvre Museum in Paris on October 21, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Regis Duvignau

LONDON (Reuters) - From Picasso in St. Petersburg to sculptures in Sydney, Hotwire.com has compiled a list of the top 10 places to admire famous art around the world. Reuters has not endorsed this list.

1. Paris, France

It may seem obvious, but there's a reason why Paris always ends up on top of most art-lovers' lists. Start with one of the largest and most well-known museums in the world, the Louvre (Musee du Louvre). This museum displays an estimated 380,000 objects and 35,000 works of art including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. And of course, the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) is one of the most famous architectural works of art in its own right. Beyond the Louvre, visitors can experience impressionist and post-impressionist French art at the Musee d'Orsay, the surrealist movement at Espace Dali or view modern works by artists like Pablo Picasso at the Musee d'Art Moderne.

2. Florence, Italy

Known as the "cradle of the Renaissance," Florence is overflowing with beautiful pieces of art and architecture. Before even setting foot inside a museum, visitors can take a tour of Firenze to bask in all of the great architecture that makes up the city. From palaces to monuments to religious buildings, the city itself is a giant museum of master architectural work that is sure to leave folks breathless. Once inside these beautiful buildings, be sure to visit Galleria dell' Accademia (Academy Gallery), which is home to Michelangelo's David, or the Galleria degli Uffizi (Uffizi Galleries), to view works from artists such as Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.

3. Vatican City

St. Peter's Square is an architectural masterpiece designed by Gian Bernini in the seventeenth century, but it's the Vatican museums and churches that are the stars. These museums hold an immense collection of sculptures, paintings and artefacts that have been collected by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. This includes some of history's most renowned works of art, such as Michelangelo's painted ceiling at the Sistine Chapel and the Last Judgment. Famous works by Raphael can also be found throughout the Vatican but are mostly concentrated in the Apostolic Palace. And don't forget, just outside the Vatican walls sits Rome, which could stand alone as an art lover's delight with its museums and Roman architecture.

4. Berlin, Germany

Over the last 20 years, Berlin has emerged as one of the biggest art venues in Europe with an impressive selection of new architecture, exhibits and art galleries. But even with its new art scene, Berlin will always have strong ties to the past, which can be seen at one of the 17 Berlin State Museums that are divided into five clusters. Museumsinsel (Museum Island), a complex of five museums, is the largest in Europe, and is comprised of the Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Bode Museum, and Pergamon Museum, which were all built on the site of the original city settlement. The museums' collections range from Roman and Greek Classical Antiquities, to 19th century sculptures and paintings, to prehistory and early history.

5. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam is a great destination to experience the out-of-the-ordinary, and the art is no exception. If you are craving something a little unusual, The Florescent Art Museum, also known as "Electric Ladyland," is a tribute to Jimi Hendrix and has a vast collection of psychedelic pieces. But the Dutch also have a wealth of classics, and gave the world such famous painters as Rembrandt and Van Gogh. The Van Gogh Museum displays the most extensive collection of his work including 200 paintings, 550 sketches and hundreds of letters from Van Gogh to his brother Theo.

6. St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg is arguably one of the most picturesque cities in the world, and at its center is the State Hermitage Museum. This museum contains three million pieces, including works by Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso and Nicolas Poussin. It is also one of the most extensive museums with objects from around the world, ranging in time from pre-historic to post-modern. St. Petersburg also has a wealth of museums dedicated to Russian art, with the State Russian Museums housing the largest collection of pieces from Russia. For something out-of-the-box, be sure to stop by the Museum of Non-Conformist Art, which features the art movement under the Soviet Union.

7. Santa Fe, New Mexico

The community of Santa Fe has long been considered both a haven for creativity and an important gathering place for the American art community, especially those who love Native art. In August, the annual Santa Fe Indian Market attracts thousands of visitors to the city for the largest showing of authentic Native art in the world. Other art enthusiasts with eclectic tastes can venture to the art district on Canyon Road, which features more than 100 art galleries and studios. Finally, Santa Fe was home to many well-known artists including Georgia O'Keeffe. O'Keeffe became famous for her depictions of enlarged flowers and paintings inspired by her time in New Mexico, which are on exhibition at The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

8. Los Angeles, California

As one of the most eclectic cities in the United States, Los Angeles is a giant melting pot of art that is just waiting to be explored, with a lot of it on the cutting edge of modernity. Visit Chris Burden's iconic Urban Light display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in West Hollywood, or travel downtown to the Museum of Contemporary Art MOCA.L, where artists such as Banksy and Tim Burton have shown their work. LA is home to not only one, but two Getty Museums. Whether travellers feel like exploring the beautiful gardens at the Getty Villa, or admiring the collections of European and American art at the Getty Center, both venues provide breathtaking views of the City of Angels.

9. Sydney, Australia

Even though Sydney is more known for its beautiful beaches, it still offers travellers a unique artistic experience. Visitors can explore the city to see the architecture, local galleries and the Sydney Sculpture Walk, which features Australian and contemporary artists. In March, Sydney celebrates its vibrant art scene with a month-long festival. During Art Month, visitors can not only expect an abundance of art exhibits, but can experience art talks, tours, performances, art bars and gallery openings. Or for a more intimate look into Sydney's local art, Sydney Art Tours lead people through the smaller galleries and provide an up-close look into artists' studios. Travellers can also head over to Balmain, the suburb of Sydney where artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers are known to hang-out. And don't leave Sydney without touring its most famous piece of architecture, The Sydney Opera House.

10. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo offers art enthusiasts a chance to experience amazing Asian styles that were created independently of the West. The city is home to more than 240 museums, such as the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum and the Nerima Art Museum, plus an array of magnificent temples and shrines. For the arts and crafts lover, visit Tokyo's arts and crafts scene at the Edo Shitamachi Traditional Museum, and for someone with an ear for music, stop by the Musashino Music College Musical Instrument Museum, which has more than 5,000 instruments from all over the world.

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