Take a Virtual Holiday around Nottingham's Ten Sister Cities

Monday 08 June 2020
reading time: min, words

Grumbling about your lack of hollibobs will make you look like a bit of a prat during the current climate, and rightly so. But with everything that’s going on, the prospects of sipping sangria on the Spanish coast are looking fairly slim for the foreseeable future. With real-life tourism off the table, we’ve decided to take a virtual tour around Nottingham’s sister cities, transporting you lot on a round-the-world trip to the places who we have historic, economic, cultural or just good old-fashioned friendly relationships with, without a lost passport, queue of screaming kids or overweight suitcase in sight…


Nancy, France


Population: 105,000
Miles from Notts: 435 
Notable natives: Artist Joseph Ducreux, filmmaker Eric Rohmer and footballer Michel Patini

It’s clear to see why Nancy has a reputation for refinement. A resplendent central square lined with gardens, museums, bars and shop windows glistening with crystal is complemented by the 18th century architecture that leaves you in no doubt that you’re walking through a part of history. However, the city’s motto is “Non inultus premor,” Latin for “I am not injured unavenged,” suggesting that, for all its beauty, Nancy is not a city to be messed with.

Ghent, Belgium


Population: 263,000
Miles from Notts: 240 
Notable natives: Charles V Holy Roman Emperor, footballer Kevin De Bruyne and cyclist Bradley Wiggins

Once a prominent city-state in the Middle Ages, the pretty port city of Ghent in north-west Belgium has more than just sisterhood in common with dear old Notts. As well as being a University town and something of a cultural hub, Ghent was once known as the heart of a thriving lace industry, with roots in the craft going back to the 15th century. It’s also one of the most cosmopolitan areas of Belgium, with over a third of its residents originating from outside of the country. A skyline dominated by medieval architecture, including the famous Saint Bavo Cathedral (home of the Ghent Altarpiece), is complimented by a host of charming bakeries selling mastellen, a doughnut-shaped bun that’s something of a local delicacy.

Harare, Zimbabwe


Population: 1,521,000
Miles from Notts: 5350 
Notable natives: Entrepreneur William Sachiti, singer Takura and cricketer Graeme Hick

We checked in to Zimbabwe’s capital just in time to watch the sun set over the stunning dusty red landscape. For a metropolitan city, Harare has plenty of indigenous plants, including countless purple jacaranda trees that line the streets, giving it a bizarrely alluring otherworldly feel. As well as loads of great restaurants, museums, craft markets and bars, Harare is home to a thriving creative scene, with the city hosting the International Festival of Arts. Considering it’s Zimbabwe’s most populous city, it definitely has an overall feeling of being really laid-back and welcoming.

Karlsruhe, Germany


Population: 313,000
Miles from Notts: 500 
Notable natives: Mercedez-Benz founder Karl Benz, footballers Oliver Kahn and Sead Kolašinac

As another city that boasts an impressive creative community, Karlsruhe joined UNESCO’s network of Creative Cities as a City of Media Arts last year, and the city is home to two of Germany’s most prestigious cultural institutions in the ZKM (Centre for Art and Media) and the Academy of Fine Arts. According to legend, it was founded after Charles III William of Baden-Durlach dreamt of creating a new city in order to get away from his wife, and the name Karlsruhe translates to “Charles’ peace.” Having been visited by Thomas Jefferson during his days as an American envoy to France, the city’s maps were taken back to the newly founded United States to be used as a guide to laying out Washington, D.C. And you can see why – elegant, classical architecture and two huge botanical gardens make the city something of a tourist haven.

Ljubljana, Slovenia


Population: 288,000
Miles from Notts: 850 
Notable natives: Footballer Jan Oblak, politician Dimitrij Rupel and skier Petra Majdiĉ

Slovenia’s capital city boasts an eclectic skyline that combines well-preserved Roman, Middle Ages, Baroque, Venetian, Art Deco and modern architecture, most of which has remained standing despite the several huge earthquakes that have decimated the area over the centuries. The Ljubjanica River cuts through the heart of the city, providing a hot spot for treasure hunters who have found relics from the Stone Age to the Renaissance during dives.  As well as several picturesque green spaces and the charming Prešeren Square, Ljubljana is known for its beguiling array of bridges. Home to over 10,000 cultural events each year, the city has museums, festivals and art galleries to match any of Nottingham’s twin cities.

Minsk, Belarus


Population: 1966
Miles from Notts: 1150 
Notable natives: Chess grandmaster Isaac Boleslavsky, UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski and former world No.1 tennis player Victoria Azarenka

Home to eleven theatres, sixteen museums, twenty cinemas and 139 libraries, Minsk is Belarus’ major cultural centre. Located on the south-eastern slopes of the Minsk Hills, the Belarusian capital has overcome a fairly negative reputation to establish itself as one of the most progressive, clean and modern cities in Eastern Europe. Having been bombed and occupied by Germany during World War II, and later recaptured by Soviet troops, the city centre was once totally remodelled to Stalin’s specific tastes. From a post-war population of just 50,000 people, Minsk is now home to just under two million residents and has a thriving transport infrastructure, including Belraus’ only underground metro system, to match.

Ningbo, China


Population: 8,202,000
Miles from Notts: 5760 
Notable natives: Billionaire Ding Lei, artist Chen Yifei and shipping magnate Yue-Kong Pao

For some cities, being twinned with Notts is just something to stick on their Wikipedia page. But the good folk of Ningbo take the relationship much more seriously. Having twinned up less than fifteen years ago, the city proudly displays an exact replica of our Robin Hood statue in their new Cultural Plaza district, a Nottingham literature collection in Ningbo New Library and shops, signs and little ducks all over the city representing NG. Located on the east coast, around two hours south of Shanghai in the Zhejiang province, Ningbo is considered a medium-sized city by Chinese standards, despite being home to over eight million people. If you get a chance, go and see what the place is all about. Tell them you’re from Notts and you’ll be guaranteed a warm welcome.

Timișoara, Romania


Population: 333,000
Miles from Notts: 1117 
Notable natives: Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller, football manager Ștefan Kovács, Olympian Iolanda Balaș

Romania’s third largest city is one of the country’s most elegant, aesthetically-pleasing areas. Built around a string of beauteous renovated green spaces and picturesque parks, Timișoara is informally known as ‘Primul Oraș Liber’ (the First Free City), it was there that the first protests against Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu began, which ultimately led to his toppling and execution. Often used by tourists as a base to explore the Banat region, Timișoara is another city that boasts a bustling creative community, and will serve as the European Capital of Culture in 2021. With a backdrop rich with creativity and rebellion, it’s fair to say the Romanian city has much more in common with Notts than just being twinned…

Krasnodar, Russia


Population: 1,000,000
Miles from Notts: 1872
Notable natives: Film writer Nina Agadzhanova, Soviet war hero Pyotr Gavrilov and cosmonaut Gennady Padalka

When Catherine the Great, the 18th century Empress of Russia, travelled south to visit the lands conquered from the Turks, her lover Potemkin built pretty façades to hide the downtrodden hovels that made up the newly-founded city bearing her name. Originally known as Yekaterinodar (Catherine’s Gift), it’s fair to say that those facades are no longer needed, as Krasnodar is home to a lively, beautiful city centre filled with shops, cafes and restaurants. Dubbed ‘Little Paris’, the Russian city has an elegant European feel, and is perfect for a short stay.

Września, Poland


Population: 31,000
Miles from Notts: 784
Notable natives: Paralympian Mateusz Michalski, singer Anna Jantar-Kukulska and architect Zygmunt Gorgolewski

Easily the smallest town we’re twinned with, Września’s entire population is less than the amount of students that live in Nottingham. Located in west-central Poland, the town has had a turbulent history, having been burnt down by Sweden in 1664, annexed to Prussia in 1793 and occupied by Germany in 1939. Września is perhaps most well-known for the school strike that took place there in 1901, when Polish children boycotted their education in protest of the Germinisation of the curriculum, which prohibited the Polish language. It might be small, but Września is a proud, quaint town with enough history to rival most European cities.

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