FIVE UNDERRATED ART CITIES
Weighed down by its image as a nugget of drab bureaucracy, Brussels (visit. brussels) is a guardian of Flemish painting – and the arc of genius it drew between the 15th and 17th centuries. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (finearts-museum.be) comprise six institutions, such as the Musée Oldmasters, where Rubens and Bruegel the Elder wait.
Italy’s sixthlargest city (visitgenoa.it) was a key player in the Renaissance, even if starry Florence still takes much of the credit. It underlines this point in its elegant palaces, and the paintings in them. The Palazzo Ducale (palazzoducale. genova.it) is a grand showcase for touring exhibitions; the Palazzo Rosso (museidigenova. it) offers Van Dyck and Dürer.
Croatia’s capital (infozagreb.hr) is overshadowed by Split and Dubrovnik, but shines in its many galleries. Its Moderna Galerija (modernagalerija.hr) holds sculptures by Croatian artists of the 19th and 20th centuries; its superb Museum of Contemporary Art (msu.hr) takes a path into the 21st via works by the likes of Julije Knifer and Toso Dabac.
Like Munich, Cologne (koelntourismus. de) has one eye on Italy; it was Roman in origin (founded in 50AD). Its Museum Ludwig (museum- ludwig.de), hidden in the enormous shadow of its cathedral (the Dom) is a joy – in love with the 20th century through a collection that flicks from Dali, Warhol and Picasso to German provocateur Martin Kippenberger.
So much more than the bars and booze of Magaluf a taxi ride to the south-west, the capital of Majorca (seemallorca. com/palma) gleams as a Balearic enclave of food and culture. Its sophistication is enshrined in Es Baluard (esbaluard.org), a 16th-century fortress reborn as a kernel of art, where swirling marvels by Joan Miró and Miquel Barceló grace the walls.
Es Baluard, above; Palazzo Ducale, below left; and Museum Ludwig, below