Picture exploring Paris without strolling in the Champs-Elysses! Or Barcelona without walking in the Rambla or Istanbul without walking in the Istiklal avenue! And as a tangible example, conceive Tehran without strolling in the Valiasr street or Isfahan without sitting in the Naghsh-e-Jahan square. A significant amount of our experiences are shaped shaped in the street tourism, without us noticing it. In the other words, our cognizance of our trip destinations is widely affected by the streets of the cities which we opt as the destination. While we are a guest to a city as a tourist, the streets are some things more than the routs to the touristic attractions and destinations Many of the streets are throughly touristic attractions by themselves and their roles as routes are influenced by their roles as attractions.
Today of a City
When we travel to a city, our daily itineraries are mostly pregnant with pre – planned visits. From exploring the museums and historical structures and shrines, to the palaces and gardens and castles and keeps and even modern attractions like the shopping centers and malls and aquariums and zoos and stadiums and tens of other sights, each has a unique charm for us as tourists. Visiting each of these attractions will doubtlessly help us with our cognition and perception about an allowance of history, art, civilization, architecture, nature, animal species, landmass, etc of our trip destinations. Although, if we visit all of the such attractions, our knowledge about that city will remain abortive. Since, these types of attractions are related to the past and history of the city or they appertain to the outstanding subjects of it’s art and nature and climate and architecture. In order to penetrate a city properly, you ought to conceive the (( present )) of a city, separately from the (( past )) and it’s illustrious qualities. The (( present )) of a city is precisely the thing that is running in it’s life. An assemblage of the items from the past and history and art and architecture and food and culture and costume and and alike examples, interwoven with the present day’s verity. The present of a city can be discovered by a hawker’s products beside the wall of a historical structure, by the movement of a showman in the middle of the main square of the city, by the sound of the moving carriage’s wheels on the historical paths, by the cafés and chairs which are set on the middle of the pavement , by the curves of the sculptures set on the middle of the boulevards, by the endless sound of the horns made by the taxis and buses, by the half day markets in the weekend’s mornings, by the paintings on the walls of the subway’s routes, by the people sitting beside the ponds and fountains and rivers and by the laughters of the people walking on the pavements of the city.
The (( present )) of the city can be comprehended in the (( street tourism )).
Defining the Street Tourism
The street tourism consists in walking in the public areas of a city, in order to visit various urban elements and human factors that have become attractions in addition to their original function in the city and they can be experienced to help us have a better grasp on the assorted dimensions of the city. In the other words, while you are strolling over the streets and alleys of a city (without entering the private space of a touristic place or attraction) and you are enjoying the elements and factors around you, you are doing street tourism.
Columns of the Street Tourism
As mentioned before, there is a conglomeration of the physical elements and human and natural factors effectively making the attractions of the street tourism. These columns can be divided into two divisions :
• Human Factors
• Urban Elements
Two other vital traits of the street tourism are in need to be mentioned before explaining the details of each of these columns or different and incorrect interpretations will be caused due to the lack of preoccupation. In the other words, the previous columns can be considered as a pillar for the street tourism only if they consider these two following qualities :
• Time Effect
• The Function of the Factors and Elements
The qualities will be analyzed first and the details of the street tourism’s columns will be delved afterwards.
Most of the touristic attractions can be explored anytime during the day or even at night (in luminous conditions). For instance, if Louvre museum was open round – the – clock, it wouldn’t be vital that when we will visit it. Due to the sufficient optical recourses, Eiffel tower can be our destination at anytime either. This item includes many of the touristic attractions. The only constraint on visiting the attractions is the opening hours which compels the tourist to betake in some specific times.
However, the street tourism is different. In order to grasp the street tourism, you need to go to the street or square at it’s opportune time. If you go to La Rambla at midnight, you won’t be able to see the real La Rambla and you will have a malformed discernment of it despite the felicitous optical amenities. A malformed discernment about the fact of the street full of the artists and hawkers and people and set chairs of the cafés and restaurants during the day. Sometimes the story is in reverse. If you visit the Khao San street in Bangkok during the day, it will look like a regular street without any attractiveness. Although this is an area pregnant with people, hawkers and peddlers, mottled lights, tattoo shops, bars and clubs during the night that turn it into one of the most charming streets of the world. Consequently, the time dimension is paramount for the street tourism and it has a decisive role in the quality of the excursion.
The Function of the Factors and Elements
The vital point about the columns of the street tourism is that all of the elements and factors which are recognized as the attractions of this type of the tourism (except art works), are created for the operations, objectives considerations other than being a touristic sight and they exist in the streets of the city; but they are known as an attraction for the tourists. For instance, street musicians are actually playing to cheer the passers in order to gain money by taking tips. Meanwhile, these artists are part of the street’s attractiveness by the street tourism’s point of view. This subject is true for the hawkers too.
It’s the same story for the physical urban ingredients either. Many of the bridges erected over the rivers or canals in different cities are converted to the eye catching sights of the cities nowdays, in spite of their original role as a facilitator to cross the water. The pedestrian lights of Tehran (or Berlin) are among the other examples of it. These lights are practically made to allow or enjoyn the pedestrian movement by turning red or green, but the image of these lights (a man wearing a hat who stops by the red light and walks by the green) are transformed into one of the symbols of the city and many of the tourists take photos from or with them and they buy some clothings with the pictures of these light men on them as a souvenir.
Accordingly, we are able to mention that, except the art works that are installed or performed in order to embellish the city and are born to be an attraction, the primary cause for the other columns of the street tourism is something beside a touristic attraction but they have gradually converted to an attraction, in addition to their cardinal role.
1- Human Factors
People and the human factors, shape a decisive part of the street’s identity. Streets in general and particularly the street tourism, have their vitality and life rooted in the same human factors. The efficient human factors in the street tourism can be divided into 3 schematic batches.
The first batch is composed of the artists who are performing in various districts of the city. Think of the musicians who are standing beside the pavements and in the corner of the junctions and at the entrance of the metro stations playing their various instruments, or the living status dressed in costumes who stand steel for a long time pretending to be a sculpture. Think of the artists who paint on the ground, delineating exclusive rooms. Or the ones whose patterns and writings adorn the walls of the city. Think of the artists who execute shows and performances in the squares of the city. All of these are among the important divisions of the street tourism’s attractions .
The Second batch is composed of the peddlers and hawkers who sell goods and edibles to the passers. Meanwhile you walk on the street, someone offers buckets of flowers, another one sells sour and sweet and spicy and salty edibles, someone else has outfits and garments and the person beside him is selling souvenirs of the city.
Finally the third batch is composed of the people who imply them. From those who are standing in front of their shops awaiting the customers, to the passers that are using the street quickly or langourously to reach their destination, to the tourists who are strolling along the pavements with their curious eyes looking around.
The streets never have the same buoyancy and vivacity without the human factors and the street tourism doesn’t have savor without it’s people.
2- Urban Ingredients
As a result of extensiveness and vast diversity and and considerable impact on the street tourism, the urban ingredients can be divided into different components. Acordingly, we sort these ingredients into 3 parts to distinguish them more accurately :
Immovable urban ingredients
Movable urban ingredients
Works of art
Art works located in the city, are considered as a subsidiary of the immovable urban ingredients indeed. However, since these items are originally made as the elements for the beautification of the city and their main operation is to embellish it, they differ from the other immovable urban ingredients with their premier function as anything but an urban attraction. Consequently, this part of the ingredients is considered as an independent batch.
2-1 Immovable Urban Ingredients
The immovable urban ingredients that are considered as some of the most important columns of the street tourism, are generally created for the public usage and outright applied purposes in the city, but they have gradually become considerable in tourism in addition to their original function and they have turned to an attraction. A wide range of the ingredients that we see in the cities, are put in this category.
An allowance of these ingredients is composed of the urban spaces which are made to facilitate the commuting in the city. Many of the squares, streets, alleys and passages were constructed to simply favor the transportation in their ages but they have been converted to a touristic attraction nowdays and their original function has been eliminated is some situations. Naghsh-e-Jahan square can be mentioned as an example where it’s prohibited for all types of vehicles to range in and it has turned to a touristic attraction instead of it’s primal operation (to simplify the transportation in the city). A batch of these items have converted to one of the cardinal columns of their city’s tourism, in addition to their capital function, like Khajou and Sio-Se bridges that are still connecting the both sides of the bridges but they are primarily recognized as the city attractions of Isfahan.
The city’s general architecture is also identified as the street tourism’s attraction separately from it’s original and operational function. Yazd’s earthen house walls and towering wind catchers are constructed all together for the utilization of the citizens but they are known as the attractions of Yazd’s streets and alleys separately from their main operation. The ziguratt – shaped homes of Brugge, a city in Belgium, are following the same story for this city. It’s necessary to declare that the column of the position of the architecture in the street tourism is totally sequestered with the iconic architecturally unique buildings. For instance in the Yazd’s street tourism, in spite of the Jame Mosque of Yazd being recognized as a meritorious and especial building in architecture and history, it’s not included among the attractions of the street tourism. Because of the necessity for the tourist to leave the street’s space in order to enter the individual architecture of the structure which is beyond the defenition of the street tourism.
The urban furniture that are made and installed in the various parts of the city for the passers to use, can be transformed into an attraction of the street tourism. The city lights in Paris or the urban furniture in Barcelona are designed in an extremely especial and unique way that despite their actual function in illuminating the streets or making some space for the passers to sit, the tourists take photos with them and they consider them as a part of the attractions of these two cities.
The sign boards that can be seen in different forms and types all over the city, can be converted sometimes to an attraction for the street tourism. Some of the shops for instance, use entirely unique volumes and figures for their sign boards, in a way that it draws the passers’ attentions. Camden street is a tangible example for these kinds of the sign boards. The same story is also true about the information boards, billboards and city screens. The city screens set in Tokyo or the Times square are converted into one of the most important parts of the attractions in these two cities.
Facilities of the cities can also become attractions for the street tourism. From the public telephone kiosks beside the streets, to the post boxes set on the pavements or the traffic lights on the junctions can play this role. The public telephone kiosks in London and Budapest, the red post boxes of London or the man wearing a hat in the traffic lights of Berlin (amplemann) are some of the examples.
Cafés and restaurants, particularly the ones with their seats set on pavements and passageways, are some of the most important parts of the street tourism’s experience. In addition to the attractive pictures of these seats and tables for the passers and tourists, sitting on them and watching the life continuing, is a binary attraction itself to conceive and experience the street tourism. In the other words, the other aspects of the street tourism can be perceived in a better way by sitting in the cafés, especially the ones in the big squares and wide streets of the city.
Separately from all the human made ingredients and the ingredients that have been studied, the natural factors can also be attractions for the street tourism. The rivers can highly affect on the structure and attractiveness of the city. The trees and treed ranges also bring double fascination to the face of the streets. The same story is also true about the constructed canals all over the cities. The Seine river in Paris, the Zayanderud in Isfahan, the trees of the Valiasr street in Tehran and the canals in Venice and Amsterdam and Brugge are some examples of the natural attractions in the cities in shape of the street tourism.
2-2 Movable Urban Ingredients
apart from the immovable ingredients, cities are composed of some elements which don’t have any fixed position in the cities and are always moving and displacing. Some of these ingredients are made by the humans to serve people while the others are born in nature and they have gifted a different atmosphere to the city.
The human made vehicles are generally used in transporting and displacing people. The trams moving in the historical areas, the one and double decker buses moving on the streets of the city, the sky trains moving on the routes and tall concrete columns the ships and boats commuting on the rivers or in the harbors are some examples of the public transportation vehicles that are considerable in the street tourism. The trams of the Istiklal avenue in Istanbul, double – decker buses of London, Bangkok’s Sky Train, the special Gondola boats of Venice or the duck boats of London, freight and cruise ships harbored in Barcelona are some of the instances for the mentioned items.
In addition to the mentioned vehicles that are categorized as public, different types of the private vehicles also have an impact on the street tourism’s attractiveness. Vehicles like bicycles, rickshaws, carts, motorcycles, trios, cabin motorcycles, taxis and special cars are some examples of them. The bicycles in Switzerland, rickshaws in India, motorcycles and trios in Thailand, Vespas in Italy and cabs in London are affecting the face of the street tourism.
An extremely eye catching part of the street tourism is beholden to the presence of the birds and livestocks in the cities. The pigeons flying on the main squares of the cities, attracting the tourists and passers, the seabirds flying on the beaches and on the edge of the rivers or the cats and dogs living around the streets and alleys of the cities, are some of the examples of the natural movable ingredients’ fascination. The pigeons of the San Marco square in Venice, the seabirds in all of the cities possessing rivers or seas like Isfahan, the shiftless cats of the Istanbul’s streets or the sluggish dogs of the streets of Athens are parts of their street tourism attractions by themselves.
2-3 Art Works
The art works are among the subsidiaries of the immovable urban ingredients as mentioned. However, they are analyzed in an independent batch due to the difference in their original function. The street art is an absolutely substantial subject in the street tourism in general, that a focal part of the street tourism’s attractions is beholden to these artifacts.
From the sculptures of the public figures set in the squares or boulevards of the city, to the classical or modern or abstract figures and status and the cubist artifacts put in various locations of the city, or from the paintings or calligraphis or writings made on the walls of the city, to the tilings or mosaics or graphities that bring a charming savor to the streets of the city, they are all playing some roles to shape the picture and identity of the city’s and it’s street’s memories.
The preponderant difference between the street art works and the street artists (mentioned in the previous category) is that the role of the artifact which is created by the artist and it’s impact on the street tourism is being investigated in here, however, the physical and instantaneous presence of the artists in the streets, and it’s impacts on the street tourism is considered in the part of the street artists.
Rediscovering the Streets
Rethink about your last trip. How affected is your understanding of your destination city by it’s streets? You might have only visited the proverbial historical and natural attractions of your destination and you have passed the streets only to reach the sights. Or perhaps you have walked numerously on the streets of your destination and you have filmed the musicians while they were playing and you have settled for a while in the cafés on the middle of the city’s main square and you have taken some photos with it’s telephone boxes and taxis and buses, but you have never had any conception about the street tourism.
This time it will be different tough. If you repose yourself in the streets of your destination city in one of the days of your next trip and if you experience it’s people and walls and bulks and shapes and colors and savors in a more acute and patient way, there is no doubt that you will discover a brand new world…