select - Cultural Capitals

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When UNESCO gives a city the nod as a cultural centre, it has made it onto the world stage, whether it’s an ancient capital with a millennium-old pedigree, the reinvention of a former industrial centre, or the emergence of a gleaming new metropolis.
 

 

Doha

The Qatari capital is undergoing a vast transformation that isn’t just economic but social and cultural too; no wonder Doha was chosen by UNESCO as this year’s Arab Capital of Culture. The pearl in its impressive crown is the Museum of Islamic Art, where you’ll find dazzling displays on Islamic culture from Spain to China and everywhere inbetween. Also of note is the Qatar National Museum and Al Khor Museum for anthropology 
and archaeology. Then wander through the Gold Souk, past the Fanar ‘Qatar Islamic Cultural Center’ and the 19th-century Al Koot Fort. Souk Waqif is Doha’s traditional market, full of stalls where you can discover everything from falconry products to perfumes. 
This year, art exhibitions, concerts, film festivals, and much more will also light 
up the cultural scene.
 

WHY
If you’ve admired Doha’s amazing economic boom, now’s the time to see 
a similar transformation 
of its cultural life.
 

WHERE
Doha, the capital of Qatar, 
sits on the Gulf on the state’s central coastline.

HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies to Doha from more than 90 cities worldwide.
 

 


Istanbul

Istanbul is a city of splendid paradoxES: ancient and modern, beautiful and worn, poised dramatically between Europe and Asia. Right in the heart of the city, the vast Topkapi Palace was once the pleasure ground of the Ottoman sultans, with jewellery, calligraphy, armour, gold, and rare books among its priceless treasures. Then there’s the Blue Mosque and venerable Ayasofya, two great religious buildings. The Archaeological Museum is crammed with the detritus of ages, the superlative Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art with illustrated Qur’ans and breathtaking calligraphy. Then head for the Bosphorus in time for sunset. Listen to the call 
to prayer as the sun slides down behind a horizon of minarets, pavilions, and pleasure palaces along the Golden Horn. Bold, beautiful and splendid, Istanbul ends another day in ageless style.
 

WHY
The former capital of several glorious empires – from Greek to Byzantine and Ottoman – has culture and history galore.
 

WHERE
Located on the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul famously straddles Europe and Asia.
 

HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Istanbul.
 

 


Essen

A Cultural Capital 
of Europe for 2010, 
this former coal-mining and industrial town has transformed into a sophisticated commercial and cultural centre, complete with restored old town and tranquil green belt. It boasts Van Goghs in its Folkwang Museum and dazzling medieval artworks in the cathedral treasury. And Essen hasn’t forgotten its modern heritage either: one of its collieries is now World Heritage listed.
 

WHY
The town’s motto is ‘Change through Culture’ and, to see how it works, there’s no better place to visit.
 

WHERE
Essen lies in the Ruhr region of western Germany between Dьsseldorf and Dortmund.
 

HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Frankfurt, connected by rail to Essen.
 

 
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