Cities of intrigue and mystery



When a city’s name is mentioned in conversation or in writing, it can conjure up certain images based on one’s personal knowledge of the place. If one has not visited the city, the image is largely shaped by perceptions derived from resources such as books, movies, music, news stories, and other forms of media.  Politics or political history can play a major role in shaping our impressions, as does a unique or varied geography.

In some instances a city’s name can stir more than one kind of image. Below is my list of cities around the world whose name can invoke a mental image of intrigue or mystery. Maybe I have watched too many James Bond movies and television detective dramas, or read too many spy novels?

A fascinating aspect of this list is the vast majority of the cities are major international seaports – perhaps the intersection of unfamiliar cultural influences from around the world that takes place in these harbor cities plays an important role in creating a sense of mystery and intrigue?  Two of the cities listed are perched at the crossroads of two continents – Tangier and Istanbul, adding even more flavor than might otherwise exist.

I would be interested to read what other think of this list and if other cities stir the same sort of impressions among the readers of Panethos. Please feel free to send your thoughts along. Peace!

  • Algiers, Algeria
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Beirut, Lebanon
  • Belgrade, Serbia (Thank you, Milan!)
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Cairo, Egypt
  • Dakar, Senegal
  • Havana, Cuba
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Katmandu, Nepal (Thank you, John)
  • London, England, UK
  • Marrakesh, Morocco (Thank you, John)
  • Marseille, France
  • Medellin, Colombia
  • Moscow, Russia
  • New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  • Pyongyang, North Korea
  • San Francisco, California, USA
  • Shanghai, China
  • Tangier, Morocco
  • Timbuktu, Mali (Thank you, John)
  • Veracruz, Mexico
  • Washington, DC, USA
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2 Responses to Cities of intrigue and mystery

  1. Miriam Fitzpatrick says:

    Interesting idea! You should use survey monkey perhaps to prompt more reactions? Copying your list I note here my first image!

    Algiers, Algeria bazaar
    Amsterdam, Netherlands cobbled streets and facades of recessed doors, stoops and large windows
    Bangkok, Thailand bicycles
    Beirut, Lebanon the book on kidnapping; an evil cradle
    Belgrade, Serbia patchwork of styles in distinct urban quarters
    Berlin, Germany dominating order
    Buenos Aires, Argentina Parisian streets!
    Cairo, Egypt troubles
    Havana, Cuba mahogany doors and dusty buildings
    Hong Kong, China harbour and sparkling high rise
    Istanbul, Turkey foggy ferry and Bbq sardines
    London, England, UK black cab circling parks among brick and painted houses
    Marseille, France good concrete high rise
    Moscow, Russia vast open spaces
    New Orleans, Louisiana, USA dark balconies with music on bourbon street
    San Francisco, California, USA clapboard terraces stepped downhill
    Shanghai, China density
    Washington, DC, USA axial pools znd trees


  2. Dunmovin, California


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