Which City Is the Fairest of Them All?

Ever thought of an idea of a beauty pageant starred by…cities? People behind the Online Mortgage Advisor did and, acting as the grand jurors, decided which ones should be crowned as the most beautiful.

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Aerial view of Old Town Square in Prague
An aerial view of Old Town Square, Prague, Czech Republic. Photo: Jenifoto / stock.adobe.com

Before you think me crazy, let me quickly explain that the cities involved did not have to walk down a catwalk, present their talents, or wear a bikini. The ‘competition’ was more of a mathematical one, with the results surprising, to say the least. Everything was judged based on photos depicting some of the most iconic buildings in the world’s cities. Their proportions (the longest and the shortest length in their dimensions) were then calculated according to the principles of the golden ratio.

Can you calculate harmony?

All of you mathematicians and scientific brains out there can feel victorious, as apparently – yes. Very much so. As much as those to whom the artistic and humanistic ideas are closest to heart would like to argue that beauty cannot be measured, the rules of mathematics can be applied and describe every aspect of our lives. Harmony included.

The golden ratio is equal to circa 1.618. Marked by the Greek alphabet letter phi, the proportion can be found all around us – also in nature (such as nautilus shells, pineapples, flower petals, branches, DNA, galaxies, and human face structure.)

Calculating the golden ratio in the case of buildings follows a basic formula. Namely that if the longest and the shortest dimension divided by the longest dimension is equal to the longest dimension divided by the shortest dimension, then the object was built according to the golden ratio.

Golden ratio in architecture

Done with the math! Thanks to the Online Mortgage Advisor team, we do not have to hurry and grab our tape measures and calculators. Let’s take their word for it and see which Central European cities sparkle with gold. And only three made the top list of 25 world cities (and in the top ten!)

Vienna came third among the Three Seas cities (8th overall) with the average percentage of the golden ratio at 75.85%. Budapest came second, but just by the skin of its teeth! It scored 75.9% on average (making it the 7th most beautiful city globally). And who can be crowned as the big winner? Czechs out there, be ready to uncork those bottles of champagne as we are heading to… Prague! Its impressive score of 78.7% on average was only 3.2 percent lower than Barcelona’s, making it the fourth most beautiful city in the world, according to the ranking. And it has to be said that the differences in scores of the top three cities were also minimal.

Third, on the global podium, Barcelona received 81.9% on average. Second, on the podium, Rome scored just 0.1 percent more, with the final result amounting to 82%. The most beautiful city, Venice, received 83.3% of the golden ratio on average. This means that Prague lost to the best by only 4.6 percent!

Which city came in last? Beijing in China, with a modest 55.6% of golden ratio on average.

Numbers aside, would you agree that human beings seem to be drawn to harmonious solutions that allow them to rest? If so, then the above calculation should make your city-break holiday plans a little bit easier.

Weronika Edmunds

Holder of a DPSI in English Law and an MBA, she believes in lifelong learning. Her passion for theatre shaped her sensitivity to the spoken and written word, leading her to become a creative copywriter. She lives for words and knows how to pour life into otherwise lifeless wording. She likes to repeat after M. Ondaatje: “Words, Caravaggio. They have a power.”

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