7 Crazy-Looking Cities That Could’ve Been Built for Parkour
...and there's even a couple of parkour hotspots in the UK
L’Art Du Deplacement or parkour as most people know it, is all about moving as fluidly and elegantly as possible, vaulting, climbing and jumping over any obstacle that gets in your way.
Experienced traceurs (parkour athletes) can easily spot a path through any terrain from the walls and railings of a housing estate to the trees and rocks of a forest. While parkour can be used anywhere it grew out of urban environments and it’s most at home in the concrete jungle.
Rooftops and concrete ledges are the natural playground for parkour and across the world from Europe to Asia there are cities out there that just seem to have been built for practising parkour, with close-knit roof tops, weird architecture and intersecting walls as far as the eye can see.
So next time you’re out globe trotting, check out some of these parkour hot spots, you won’t be disappointed.
Not for nothing does Red Bull hosts The Art Of Motion, its annual freerunning competition, in Santorini each year. The closely packed rooftops of this seaside town are just begging to be explored with hundreds of different lines available:
Perched on a cliff, the vertical structure of Santorini means you can map out a route easily and the stunning backdrop of white washed walls, bright blue roofs and even brighter blue sea will make any trick look instantly more impressive.
It’s no wonder that Brighton is a stomping ground for the likes of parkour crew Storror.
The seaside town has a plenty going for it, from a liberal, artsy culture that’s tolerant towards unusual sports to its long shingle beach which gives you a forgiving surface for practicing drop offs and leaps. The seafront is also home to loads of bandstands, railings, walls and drops alongside the old pier pylons for those looking for some precision practice.
Further inland the town has plenty of Georgian terraces, modern art galleries and even the Royal Pavilion (Brighton’s answer to the Taj Mahal) that all present their own unique challenges.
The vibrant, bustling metropolis of Beijing is a constantly growing web of glass and steel that prevents endless opportunities for any traceur.
Traditional pagodas and finely manicured parks sit right next to unusual modern architecture, presenting shapes and lines that you probably won’t find in any other city.
Rio De Janeiro, Brasil
Crammed onto the slopes surrounding Rio are the favelas, closely packed slums which run down the hills towards the wealthy coastal city below. Favelas are concrete labyrinths with steps, walls and railings all intertwined between homes where people have almost literally built on top of each other.
Simplistic construction gives plenty of routes across these sprawling parkour playgrounds, for anyone gutsy enough to venture into these communities which are often home to large parts of the Brasilian drug trade. This mix of danger and tightly designed architecture has made the favelas a go to location for games and movies to set their parkour scenes:
For those of you that prefer to train with a little less risk of getting shot, Rio itself has bags of great spots too, including the eye popping Le Parkinho in Aterro.
The Southbank in London is one of the UK’s biggest parkour and free running Meccas. Covered in blocky, concrete architecture, stairs as far as the eye can see and more great climbing spots than you can imagine, this small part of Britain’s biggest city has become a staple for nearly any UK parkour reel.
The fun doesn’t stop there either because, from the smooth, clean lines of the city’s buildings to the tangled housing estates of Peckham and the historical architecture that crops up round every corner, London has something for every level of traceur.
Free running globetrotter Ryan Doyle has put many cities on the map for their parkour potential. On a trip to Mardin in Turkey, Doyle discovered a hidden gem built on the side of a rocky hill near the Tigris river.
This World Heritage Site features ornate Arabesque architecture, with courtyards, mosques, churches and squares all blending seamlessly together down the side of the hill. Looking like a set from freerunning flick the Prince of Persia, this city is packed with parkour inspiration.
Israel is a country torn apart by politics and religion but against this volatile background, freerunning has served as a unifying force. People of different races and faiths are being united by parkour in Jerusalem.
The blend of thousand year old walls, religious buildings, tight-knit roof tops and modern construction has turned it into a parkour paradise for anyone brave enough to scramble over its unique skyline.
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