Street Murals Around the World

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Updated On: April 13, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Every city you visit in the world offers its own unique street murals designed to captivate and amaze tourists and locals alike. Artists love to express themselves, meaning you can enjoy discovering their ‘canvas’ as you find your way around a new city.

There’s been a huge rise in the popularity of street murals, and they seem to pop up everywhere you go. So we thought we’d explore some of the famous street murals/art around the world.

But first, let’s look at the history of street art and why it’s so special.

The History of Street Murals

Street murals, as a vibrant and transformative element of urban culture, have evolved from their humble beginnings into a global phenomenon that redefines public spaces and gives voice to diverse communities. The history of street murals intertwines with the broader narrative of street art, emerging from various forms of public, political, and artistic expressions throughout the 20th century.

Origins and Evolution

The origins of modern street murals can be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s, when the civil rights movement, anti-war protests, and countercultural movements sparked a new form of public art aimed at activism and social commentary. In the United States, the Chicano Mural Movement, which began in the late 1960s in the Mexican-American communities of the Southwest, was pivotal. Artists used public walls to celebrate heritage, protest against social injustice, and express cultural pride. This movement was mirrored across various parts of the world, where murals became tools for political expression and community engagement.

In Europe, particularly in the East during the Cold War, murals served as state-sponsored tools of propaganda, as well as forms of silent protest. The Berlin Wall, for example, became one of the most iconic canvases of public art, symbolizing resistance against oppression.

Graffiti and Street Art Explosion

The late 20th century witnessed the explosive growth of graffiti as a form of street art, particularly in New York City. Graffiti, often seen as vandalism, overlapped with the concept of street murals by transforming urban environments into dynamic spaces for personal and political expression. Artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring began their careers with work that moved from subways and city walls to galleries and museums, blurring the lines between street art and high art.

Technological Advancements and New Media

The turn of the 21st century brought new technologies and media into the mix, expanding the scope and scale of street murals. Artists began incorporating various techniques such as stencilling, stickers, and digital projections to interact more profoundly with the urban landscape. Banksy, perhaps one of the most recognizable figures in street art today, uses stencils to create politically charged and humour-infused works that have sparked conversations worldwide.

Moreover, the advent of digital and video art has introduced a new dynamic to street murals. Video projections on building facades and interactive installations have made the art form more ephemeral and multimedia-oriented than ever before. These advancements have allowed artists to engage with audiences in real time and respond to social issues with unprecedented immediacy.

Cultural and Social Impact

As street art has gained recognition, it has increasingly been embraced by communities and municipalities as a tool for beautification and urban renewal. Cities like Philadelphia have implemented mural programs that employ artists to create artworks in collaboration with local communities, transforming neighbourhoods and fostering a sense of pride and ownership among residents.

Street murals have also become significant tourist attractions, with cities like Melbourne, Berlin, and São Paulo known worldwide for their vibrant street art scenes. This tourism boom has prompted discussions about the gentrification and commercialization of street art, challenging artists and communities to balance authenticity and commercial interests.

It All Began with Graffiti Art

Graffiti was one of the earliest expressions of street art, appearing on buildings, walls and cars as early as the 1920s. It’s thought to have been started by gangs during that time in New York City. The revolutionary culture of gangs and street art was highly felt in the 1970s and 1980s. Becoming a significant moment in the history of street murals/art during those decades.

It was a time when the young started creating a movement, ultimately helping to transform the subculture phenomenon, which was challenging the social and political reality of that period.

It soon turned into illegal activity, and from vandalism began the evolution of artistic expression finding its way into galleries and the global art scene.

Street Art in the Modern World

In today’s modern world, street art is more than just graffiti on a wall; many of these art pieces relate to socio-political activism. As artists express their unhappiness with the current social-political system through art. The saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ rings true in this instance.

Street murals were considered rebellious in popular culture and mass media reality. It was always used by those not in power to express how they felt about real-life issues happening in the world. Street art gave birth to brilliant artists who created beautiful murals in return.

Street art has continued to stay relevant throughout generations, each adding their own unique style to the art form. Of course, it was becoming one of the most colourful displays of art around the world.

Now let’s explore some of our favourite street murals/art around the world…

Amazing Street Murals

  1. St. Mungo Mural – Glasgow

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Street Mural in Glasgow by Smug

This incredibly detailed street mural on Glasgow High Street was created by Australian Artist Sam Bates, who goes by the street name ‘Smug’.

The mural is a modern depiction of the St. Mungo miracles of ‘the bird that never flew’. For those like myself who didn’t know, St. Mungo is Glasgow’s patron saint. The creation of the image is taken from one of his rhymes about a bird.

Smug is a great artist and has quickly become known as one of the most talented street artists around. He is known for his high-quality murals, which often appear very realistic, as you can see in the image above.

Smug is said to be inspired by the people he meets, helping him to create some unique street murals that make people stop and admire his work.

2. Girl with the Balloon Mural – London

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Girl with Balloon mural by Banksy ( Photo source: Lewis Mc)

This is one of the most world’s most recognised pieces of street art and is the work of the iconic artist Banksy. Not many people have seen his face, adding to the mystery of him and his art. The art piece depicts a little schoolgirl holding a heart-shaped balloon.

It’s officially known as “There is Always Hope”. The street mural first appeared in 2002 helped bring to light Banksy and soon saw him obtain a huge following around the world.

This street mural has gone viral since then, appearing everywhere on the internet as well as on postcards, mugs, bags and more. The piece is much loved by the fans of Banksy and was even released as unsigned and signed prints in 2004/2005. Although its relatively low editions helped to make it more desirable, people wanted to get their hands on the art piece.

When you first look at this street mural, you think it depicts a sad little child as her balloon floats away. But on further examination, you can see the young girl in Banksy’s painting is letting her balloon go as she stands still without any emotion.

The red heart-shaped balloon is meant to represent innocence, dreams and hopes. It can be interpreted in many ways, one being that the image shows the innocence of childhood lost, and many people question whether the girl is letting go or retrieving the balloon. Banksy is renowned for creating thought-provoking art pieces and allows the audience to take their own meaning from his work.

3. Sleeping Pigs – Brussels

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Sleeping Pigs by Roa  (Photo Source: s_L_ct)

This amazingly detailed street art of pigs is located in Brussels, Belgium. Although this mural was created in 2002, it’s so impressive that you could believe it was only created yesterday.

This street mural is by the brilliant Belgian-born artist ‘Roa’ whose work has often been photography. However, just like Banksy, there is very little knowledge about the artist.

What we do know is as a child, Roa wanted to be an archaeologist and would often collect little skulls from birds & rodents to draw at home. Like many muralists, he started by spraying things under bridges and walls. Soon he became addicted to the nature of urban art.

Roa is known for his strong obsession with animals and rodents. Often combined life and death into his street murals which quickly helped to set him apart from other street artists. He has gone on to create hundreds of murals all around Europe, and I think his work is very impressive.

Be on the lookout in the following cities for his street art: London, Berlin, Madrid, Moscow.

4. Chase Your Dreams Mural – Portugal

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Chase Your Dreams mural by Odeith (Photo Source: Bizarre Beyond-Belief)

Next up is this amazing, colourful 3D street mural created by Portuguese-born artist Odeith in 2015. This mural needs no explanation, and its simple message is that you need to do whatever you can to chase your dreams and never give up.

Incredibly it’s a unique one-of-a-kind 3D street mural. It’s one of those art pieces that you’ll look at more than once to get its full 3D effect.

The artist behind this street mural became internationally recognised in 2005 for his grounding-breaking incursions in the anamorphic art.
Odeith drew attention because his artwork offered unique perspectives on a variety of surfaces, often with a cool 3D effect.

5. Everyone is Searching for it – Milan

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Everyone is Searching for It by Millo (Photo Source: Irene Grassi)

Next, we have this beautiful poignant street mural by Italian Artist Millo (Francesco Camillo Giorgino). Milo is one of Italy’s most prolific street artists, who shows no sign of stopping.

This mural above was created in 2015, depicting a man searching for love in a big city. His message is simply to never stop searching for love as ‘Everyone is Searching for it’, just like the title says.

Milo is famous for his large-scale murals and monochromatic style. Most of his street murals are ‘simplistic’, matched with flashes of colour and fun elements. His impressive large-scale murals have helped him take part in some of Europe’s biggest street art festivals.

The best thing about Millo’s murals? His creativity in bringing fun and interesting murals that actually add to urban spaces.

6 – Face Portrait – Paris

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Face Mural by C215 (Photo Source: Street News)

Created in 2013 is this stunning & vibrant street mural of a young woman located in Paris, by artist C215.

The French-born artist, whose real name is Christian Guemy, is considered one of the best stencil artists in the world. We can understand why, as his street murals are incredibly detailed and appear very real. He crafted his talent while he was once in prison, and for over 20 years, he has been creating street murals everywhere.

His main art focuses on creating self-portraits of local people; in his words ‘“faces, reflect the personality” of a city’. He often tries to draw portraits of people whom society often neglects, such as the elderly, refugees, and beggar children. Christian has said he finds much of the inspiration for his street art through the faces of random strangers he meets.

You can check out more of his incredible portraits online with a simple Google search, just like most of the artists on this list. Some of the cities you could search for his street murals are London, Rome, Paris, Poland Brazil and more.

7. Unknown Name – Valencia & Italy

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Mural by Hyuro located in Valencia (Photo Source
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Murals by Hyuro located in Italy (Photo Source: Street News)

I had to include two street murals by the artist Hyuro as I really enjoy her paintings. Her beautiful black and white street murals often depicted women in a dreamlike style.

The Argentinian-born urban artist is popular for her black-and-white paintings that are often focused on visual expression. She started out painting on canvas, but upon meeting famous street artist Escif, she gave street murals a go. Soon she became obsessed with creating street art around Europe. Although she does still produce paintings and drawings.

Hyuro quickly began making a name for herself in the urban art scene through art portrayals of women who are often at the centre of her work.

She states the inspiration around her street murals:

“I am a woman, mother, housewife, lover, friend and professional, it is from this set of roles that most of my inspiration arises.

8. Nothing to Say – Valencia

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Nothing to Say Mural by Escif (Photo Source: coolture)

Next up is the ‘Nothing to Say’ street mural located in Valencia by world-renowned street artist Escif. Escif is famous for simultaneously creating art pieces that are wonderful to observe but also convey important messages. He makes a conscious effort to make people stop and observe his street art and take away more than its visual display.

Escif started the following in regards to his artwork: I’m not looking for decorative paintings, I try to wake up viewers’ minds.”

He has many street murals located around the city of Valencia and has managed to stay anonymous for the last 20 years since he first started painting. However, he first became known to the public in the ’90s for his minimalist black & white paintings. He has stayed very true to that style ever since, and it’s what people recognise him for.

What I love most about his work are the simple figures and drawings that often have a deeper meaning to take away.

9. Spy Booth -Cheltenham, UK

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SPY Booth Mural by Banksy (Photo Source: Peter K. Levy)

Another amazing street mural by Banksy that I had to share because it’s too good not to. ‘The Spy Booth’ street art was created back in 2014. It has quickly become one of the most popular street murals around the world.

The mural is meant to depict three government agents spying on phone conversations that relate to what was happening at the time. Banksy brilliantly chose Cheltenham, UK, for the art piece as it is the home of the Government Communications Headquarters.

Sadly though you can no longer visit this mural as it has been removed, but still worthy of a mention, Banksy never lets you down with his incredible artwork.

10. Books Mural – Utrecht

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Books Mural by JanIsDeMan & Deef Feed

Last but certainly not least is the amazing book mural created by JanIsDeMan & Deef Feed. Any book lovers out there will really enjoy this, but what I love most about it is that the artists ask the local people what their favourite books are and paint the answers on the wall. I think it’s pretty cool, unique & personal to the people that live in that city.

We could include so many more amazing street murals from around the world, but there are too many to choose from. These paintings are magnificent, and each artist offers a different style and message to those who stop and appreciate their art.

Do you have a favourite street mural that you would like to share with us? Please comment below!

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