Austin is the state capital of Texas, an inland city bordering the Hill Country region. Home to the University of Texas flagship campus, Austin is known for its eclectic live-music scene centered around country, blues and rock. Its many parks and lakes are popular for hiking, biking, swimming and boating. South of the city, Formula One’s Circuit of the Americas raceway has hosted the United States Grand Prix.
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Mexico City is the densely populated, high-altitude capital of Mexico. It’s known for its Templo Mayor (a 13th-century Aztec temple), the baroque Catedral Metropolitana de México of the Spanish conquistadors and the Palacio Nacional, which houses historic murals by Diego Rivera. All of these are situated in and around the Plaza de la Constitución, the massive main square also known as the Zócalo.
Nagoya, capital of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, is a manufacturing and shipping hub in central Honshu. The city’s Naka ward is home to museums and pachinko (gambling machine) parlors. Naka also includes the Sakae entertainment district, with attractions like the Sky-Boat Ferris wheel, which is attached to a mall. In northern Naka is Nagoya Castle, a partly reconstructed 1612 royal home displaying Edo-era artifacts.
Singapore, an island city-state off southern Malaysia, is a global financial center with a tropical climate and multicultural population. Its colonial core centers on the Padang, a cricket field since the 1830s and now flanked by grand buildings such as City Hall, with its 18 Corinthian columns. In Singapore’s circa-1820 Chinatown stands the red-and-gold Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, said to house one of Buddha’s teeth.
Milan, the world capital of fashion and design, is a metropolis of Northern Italy and is the capital of Lombardy. Headquarters of the Italian Stock Exchange, it is a financial hub that is also famous for exclusive restaurants and shops. The Gothic-style Cathedral and the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which houses the fresco “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci, bear witness to the city’s artistic and cultural heritage.
Liège, a city along the Meuse River in Belgium’s French-speaking Wallonia region, has long been a commercial and cultural hub. Its old town is filled with landmarks dating to the medieval era, including the Romanesque Church of St. Bartholomew. The Grand Curtius museum houses archaeological treasures and art within a 17th-century mansion, while Opéra Royal de Wallonie has staged operas since 1820.
Budapest, Hungary’s capital, is bisected by the River Danube. Its 19th-century Chain Bridge connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest. A funicular runs up Castle Hill to Buda’s Old Town, where the Budapest History Museum traces city life from Roman times onward. Trinity Square is home to 13th-century Matthias Church and the turrets of the Fishermen’s Bastion, which offer sweeping views
Frankfurt, a central German city on the river Main, is a major financial hub that’s home to the European Central Bank. It’s the birthplace of famed writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whose former home is now the Goethe House Museum. Like much of the city, it was damaged during World War II and later rebuilt. The reconstructed Altstadt (Old Town) is the site of Römerberg, a square that hosts an annual Christmas market.
Oxford, a city in central southern England, revolves around its prestigious university, established in the 12th century. The architecture of its 38 colleges in the city’s medieval center led poet Matthew Arnold to nickname it the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’. University College and Magdalen College are off the High Street, which runs from Carfax Tower (with city views) to the Botanic Garden on the River Cherwell.
Graz is the capital city of the southern Austrian province of Styria. At its heart is Hauptplatz, the medieval old town’s main square. Shops and restaurants line the narrow surrounding streets, which blend Renaissance and baroque architecture. A funicular leads up Schlossberg, the town hill, to the Uhrturm, a centuries-old clock tower. Across the River Mur, futuristic Kunsthaus Graz exhibits contemporary art.