no-go zones beyond the headlines
Italy France Germany belgium denmark holland sweden
The prosperous and neat cities of Western Europe hide a less fancy side behind the polished postcard-like façade of medieval romanticism, hipster cafés, rich art galleries and well-preserved ancient ruins. In the outskirts of these radiant and shiny urban constructs lies, in fact, a rough-and-ready environment of economic decline, social decay and demographic tensions. Organised crime, wild baby gangs, drug trafficking, religious extremism, prostitution, home violence, ethnic sectarianism, overwhelming unemployment and a general sense of hopelessness are often associated with these outcast suburbs of grey concrete blocks and crumbling infrastructures; and yet, as always, the reality is mercifully much more complex and omnifarious than the simplistic stereotypes we are often presented with by the media. Travel with us to the urban back countries of the Old Continent and discover a surprisingly diverse rich culture of pride, resilience, farsightedness, and artistic endeavours.
Do the wise thing and the kind thing too, and make the best of us and not the worst.
― Charles Dickens
Saint Denis ☆ Paris
Saint-Denis is the troubled Parisian banlieue par excellence being inhabited mostly by African and Arab immigrants (and French citizens with immigrant ancestry) and sadly known for its crime, with high rates of robbery, drugs offences and murder.
A lawless and hopeless no-go zone? A sharia neighbourhood where even the police is afraid to walk around? Think again: despite its undeniable bunch of problems Saint Denis is a place full of positive surprises: historical buildings, industrial architecture, Jewish heritage and Maghrebi culture.
Leave the prejudices behind in the chic downtown cafés, come to Saint Denis!
120 min | 60 €
Rinkeby ☆ Stockholm
Notorious for the 2010 and 2017 violent riots against Swedish authorities and for being almost solely inhabited by immigrants and/or citizens with immigrant ancestry from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Labelled as the most dangerous hood in Sweden, pigeonholed as the archetypical failure of the country's integration politics and often misquoted as an example of Scandinavian Europe's decay.
Despite its evident socio-economic problems Rinkeby is, in fact, a lively and colourful neighbourhood with plenty of compelling stories hidden behind the raw concrete curtain of its apartment blocks: go beyond stereotypes, go Rinkeby.
75 min | 45 €
Bijlmermeer ☆ Amsterdam
The Bijlmermeer neighbourhood, which today houses almost 50,000 people of over 150 nationalities, was designed as a single project as part of a then innovative Modernist approach to urban design, but it quickly became synonymous with crime, drugs, unemployment and illegal immigrants.
Many Dutch agreed that Bijlmermeer (colloquially: the Bijlmer) was the first and only Dutch ghetto, the worst reputation a neighbourhood can earn in Holland.
Today it is better described as a quickly developing area where a vibrant multicultural community is shaping itself: walking around the Bijlmer with us, you will encounter a diverse array of cultures, idioms, flavours and scents.
60 min | 40 €