Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto
By Travel + Leisure
August 9, 2015

By Melanie Lieberman, Travel + Leisure

A city’s customs, repertoire of arts, architectural and social achievements, and distinct flavors are, collectively, what we come to know and to cherish when we celebrate its culture.

Be it a city of ancient ruins dating back to humankind’s first permanent civilizations, or striking modern constructions that surge toward the sky like glass-and-steel beams of light, these are the cities Travel + Leisure readers flock to when they seek an injection of arts and culture.

Take Il Duomo in Florence, for example. This staggering cathedral, with its first stones dating back to 1296, could very well be considered the city’s trademark.: the single structure that stands as a summation of Florence’s religious and artistic Renaissance. Without it, would the city still linger in travelers’ minds with the same unrelenting grasp?

 

And what of our No. 1 city for culture and the arts this year? Even the faintest whisper about the City of Light conjures immutable images of Monet’s gardens, the Mona Lisa’s unnerving half-smile, the palace of Versailles’ glittering hall of mirrors.

We seek culture everywhere we travel: it is the unmistakable character or quality of a city that reminds us at every turn that we are somewhere unforgettable and unique.

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