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7. Parc Güell, Barcelona
Spain's
beloved architect Antoni Gaudí is the visionary behind the Parc Güell, built between 1900 and 1914. The park was originally designed as a housing estate, although that idea was quickly abandoned. Gaudí's strange, organic style conjures up below-level passages built like the giant ribcage of some alien creature; wavy columns resembling stalactites and composed of broken, multicoloured ceramic; a long bench shaped like a serpent; and grottoes, nooks and crannies galore. It remains unsurpassed.

The nearest metro station is Lesseps, from which the park is a 20-minute walk. Opening hours are usually 10 am-7 pm; entry is free.

8. Federation Bells, Melbourne
On the banks of the Yarra River in central Melbourne is an example of public art combined with sound sculpture. The 39 inverted temple-style bells of various sizes are mounted on steel poles and spread through an open space, allowing people to walk between them. The bells are struck by computer-controlled hammers programmed to play seven different five-minute compositions written by local composers. A little bit of democracy is at play too: anyone, musical genius or not, can submit their own tune for consideration.

This sound sculpture plays three times per day: 8-9 am, 12:30-1:30 pm, 5-6 pm.

9. Mission District murals, San Francisco
The world-famous murals of the Latino Mission District adorn the walls of dozens of buildings. These poignant pieces of public art build upon the Mexican mural movement from the 1920s, as well as a good dollop of hungover-from-the-'60s hippy idealism. Common themes include Hispanic, Aztec and Maya motifs, human rights, football, Carnival and Mexican cinema. The overarching theme, though, is "community".

The District's centre is at 16th and Valencia, and its cultural heartland is the area around 24th Street.

10. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
These gigantic carvings of four presidential noggins (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt), embedded into Mt Rushmore's side, have infiltrated all aspects of US pop culture, from heavy metal to The Simpsons. But their power has not diminished - if the heads were attached to bodies, these dudes would be nearly 150m tall. Some see the carvings as a monument to racism: Mt Rushmore is in the middle of Sioux country, these early presidents had a lot to with a decline in Native American populations, and the sculptor had ties with the Ku Klux Klan.

Mt Rushmore is open daily except 25 December.

 

 

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