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Map of the Port of Alexandria, Egypt, from Kitab-ı Bahriye (Book of Navigation) by Piri Reis, first published 1521, map taken from the revised 17th-century edition. Courtesy The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Essay/
Cities
The city is a lie

From Ancient Egypt’s deltas to Edinburgh’s crags and peaks, the city pushes back against the dream of human separateness

Sam Grinsell

Detail from Beethoven Frieze, Hostile Forces (1902) by Gustav Klimt, on display at the Secession Building, Vienna. Courtesy Wikipedia

Essay/
Music
Vienna, city of paradox

How did the city of elegant classicism give birth to an explosive modernism, threatening to destroy its very traditions?

Alexander Carpenter

Alt-Berlin, Waisenstraße (1927) by Hans Baluschek. Courtesy of the Märkisches Museum, Berlin/Wikipedia

Essay/
Cities
Money and modern life

Sociologist Georg Simmel diagnosed the character of modern city life: finance, fashion and becoming strangers to one another

Daniel Lopez

Wild geese in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York City, USA, 2017. Photo by Rebecca Norris Webb from the book Brooklyn, the City Within with Alex Webb/Magnum Photos

Essay/
Nature and landscape
A place of silence

Our cities are filled by the hubbub of human-made noise. Where shall we find the quietness we need to nurture our spirit?

Liam Heneghan

Threadneedle Street, London, 2012. Photo by Trent Parke/Magnum

Essay/
Cities
City on mute

When you stare at your phone or use Uber to navigate your neighbourhood, you flatten the rich texture of urban life

Kathleen Vandenberg

Detail from Cerro Rico and the Imperial Municipality of Potosí (1758), by Gaspar Miguel de Berrío. Courtesy Museo Universitario Charcas, Sucre, Bolivia/AKG

Essay/
Cities
The first global city

High in the Andes, Potosí supplied the world with silver, and in return reaped goods and peoples from Burma to Baghdad

Kris Lane

Hans Baluschek’s Großstadtlichter (1931), oil on canvas. Stadtmuseum, Berlin. Photo of painting courtesy of Michael Setzpfandt

Essay/
Cities
A metropolitan world

Urbanisation might be the most profound change to human society in a century, more telling than colour, class or continent

Michael Goebel