Street Art Abroad

One of the biggest shocks to visitors when they first arrive in most European countries is the amount of graffiti everywhere.

In the US, graffiti is seen as trashy and unusual and is often removed quickly. It is especially a shame if it is placed on old buildings and near historical sights.

However, in Europe it is quite common. Now, just because it’s common doesn’t mean that it is welcomed by the residents. I’ve heard both sides, where graffiti is seen as part of the European culture and communities and where it is seen as disgusting and ruining the look of the historic cities and towns.

In my neighborhood of Trastevere, Rome there is graffiti everywhere. However I’ve found that there are two types of graffiti: meaningless spray paint and street art. In my neighborhood, both types could be found. This is pretty much the same throughout many of the countries and cities I visited.

Notably, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, and Belgium did not have that much visible graffiti. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Athens, Greece certainly had the most, followed by Rome and pretty much all of Italy, and Barcelona, Spain.

It is interesting when you think about and look at the countries that have or do not have this graffiti everywhere. You can make your own guesses as to why some cultures and countries are more accepting of it than others.

Looking at the customs and behaviors of the peoples, the German and Swiss are very proper, organized, and on time. However- in Italy, Greece, and Spain, the culture is more relaxed. I think their economic situations may also have something to do with it- as the countries on the two sides of the debate all seem to be in the same financial situation- with Greece, Italy, and Spain struggling and Germany and Switzerland doing well. Some of the graffiti had images or words detailing the current economic/political situations that the artists themselves, their fellow citizens, or their countries are in.

I thoroughly enjoy seeing good street art with either just a nice looking image, a cool/funny/inspiring phrase, or an image with a deeper meaning. Personally, I do not want this trend that is prominent in some countries to move to the US- but I did enjoy it while I was there.

Here are some of my favorite images I took while in Europe- whether it was on a walk or on one of my weekend trips.

Rome, Italy:

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This is a building that I passed every day by school. This is the meaningless graffiti that I mentioned above.

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The walk way by the Tiber river is covered in graffiti

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Some inspirational words found on a small side street in Trastevere… They have you thinking “who is fighting and what are they fighting for”

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If you look closely, you can see store shutters covered in meaningless graffiti

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A funny message found on a small side street

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One of my favorite pieces of street art in Trastevere. It’s tucked away in a little corner & I’m very happy I found it.

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Once again, an example of meaningless graffiti scattered around the city. These are stairs that lead up to Giannicolo Hill. It’s sad that they’re covered in graffiti because the hill is so beautiful.

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Some stores and cafes will put street art on their shutters so others don’t…

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I love Trastevere too

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A lot of vans around the city can be seen with graffiti on them

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Athens, Greece:

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My all time favorite piece of street art in Europe

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This street was entirely covered in graffiti and street art

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In Athens, it’s hard to take a picture of anything historical without getting some form of graffiti in the picture… the Acropolis is in the background of this one!

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I wonder why most of the graffiti in Europe is written in English…

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This is definitely one of my favorite pieces of street art I saw abroad.

Barcelona, Spain:

All of these pictures are from Park Guell. This park was designed by Gaudi and is absolutely huge!

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I covered the word “no” and we didn’t realize it until after

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It took Sam and I a while to figure out what this was… sometimes you need to take a picture with your phone to see the whole picture

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Stay tuned for my next post about my European adventures!

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