Chester, England is world’s most beautiful city, according to algorithm

It’s not Rome or Paris, Sydney or San Francisco – the world’s most beautiful city is perhaps one you’ve never even heard of.

In a study called Eye-Catching Architecture commissioned by Online Mortgage Advisor, the walled cathedral town of Chester in northwest England, close to the Welsh border and with a population of around 120,000, came out on top.

Venice placed second and London third.

The rankings were determined by assessing the proportion of a city’s buildings with measurements that align to the ‘golden ratio’ of 1:1.618 – a barometer of beauty marveled at by mathematicians ever since ancient times.

The ratio is often found in the natural world, including in leaves and shells.

Aerial view of Chester, a city in northwest England, near the Wales border.
Rankings were determined by assessing the proportion of a city’s buildings with measurements that align to the ‘golden ratio.’

Chester’s figure was 83.7 percent, according to the study, while Venice was close behind on 83.3 percent and London 83 percent.

According to Leading Britain’s Conversation’s report on the study, “research shows that humans find objects that unfold with this (golden) ratio of expansion inherently beautiful”, meaning a building that aligns with it would typically contain attractive shapes and structures.

According to LBD, to determine the rankings researchers used Google Street View to scan for front-facing images of thousands of buildings in historic cities worldwide.

They plotted points at the corners of each building to determine “the proportion of the longest and shortest lengths of its dimensions”.

Venice, in second place, had 83 percent of buildings match.
In Chester, 83.7 percent of buildings matched the golden ratio.

Those proportions were then compared to the golden ratio (1:1.618) to see how well they matched.

While the data set was not published it was pointed out that the UK firm analysed a lot more local cities, which might have affected rankings. The Derby-based company was conveniently only 90km away from Cheshire versus Venice.

“Using a famous mathematical concept, we analysed thousands of buildings worldwide to find out,” said the mortgage consultant behind the study said, as reported by the New Zealand Herald.

There were no cities outside of Europe that were ranked, besides New York City.
The UK firm that made the list analyzed mostly local cities, which may have skewed the data.

Local Tourism Board was understandably thrilled to be in the same beauty bracket as Venice and Paris.

“The ancient city is a truly breathtaking experience,” said the provincial tourism marketing bureau, which praised the city’s Roman Amphitheatre and Medieval stone carvings.

So how did the rest of the world compare?

1. Chester, UK – 83.7 per cent

2. Venice, Italy – 83.3%

3. London, UK – 83%

4. Belfast, UK – 82.9%

5. Rome, Italy – 82%

6. Barcelona, Spain – 81.9%

7. Liverpool, UK – 81%

8. Durham, UK – 80.5%

9. Bristol, UK – 80%

10. Oxford, UK – 79.7%

11. Birmingham, UK – 79.4%

12 = Edinburgh, UK – 78.9%

12 = Cardiff, UK – 78.9%

13. Prague, Czech Republic – 78.7%

14. Exeter, UK – 78.5%

15. Bath, UK – 78.2%

16. Canterbury, UK – 77.8%

17. New York, U.S. – 77.7%

18. Worcester, UK – 77.6%

19. Athens, Greece – 77.5%

20. Cambridge, UK – 76.1%

Last month, Time Out revealed the world’s best cities for 2022 with the publication listing Edinburgh in Scotland as the top destination, with the city’s “awe-inspiring horizon” listed as one of the reasons why it came out on top.

The list put Chicago into second position and Medellín in Colombia in third spot.

The inaugural list was created by asking some 20,000 people across the world to reveal what makes their city great, via a survey known as the Time Out Index.

The publication used the resulting data to compile its global city rankings.