Discover 10 International Treasures That Are Columbus’ Sister Cities

Written by Clemence-Maureen Feniou
Updated: October 12, 2023
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Nestled in the heart of the United States, Columbus is the capital of the state of Ohio and the largest city by population. As the largest city by population, Columbus is an economic and cultural hub in the Buckeye State. And as almost every large city in the country, it has its share of sister cities. So read on and learn about Columbus’ sister cities, including their location and what they have to offer!

What Is A Sister City?

Street sign with the sister cities of Los Angeles and City Hall building

Usually, larger cities have more sister cities. Columbus has ten sister cities.

©Yevgenia Gorbulsky/Shutterstock.com

A sister city is a relationship established between two cities of different countries. Often initiated by local organizations or city mayors, its goal is to promote friendship, cultural and education exchange, and facilitate trade and economic opportunities. It is also the ideal partnership to help understand different cultures.

In the 20th century, specifically in 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Sister Cities International Program. According to Sister Cities International, he thought of a network that would promote peace and understanding by creating bonds with large and small cities worldwide, especially after WWII.

Seventy years later, the program is successful, with hundreds of U.S. cities participating in the Sister City program, connecting with over 2,000 communities worldwide. Columbus, Ohio, has ten sister cities on four continents.

Genoa, Italy

Aerial view of Genoa

Christopher Columbus, one of the most famous explorers, was born in Genoa in 1451.

©Medvedkov/iStock via Getty Images

In 1955, Genoa, Italy, became Columbus’ first Sister City. The partnership was celebrated with a Christopher Columbus Statue that still stands outside of Columbus City Hall. More than 100,000 attended the event. Both cities have worked for 60 years with events like the bi-annual Pesto Championship.

Genoa, or Genova in Italian, is a historic port city on the northwest coast of Italy. Nestled in the Liguria Region, the city lies along the Ligurian Sea and boasts a rich history and a vibrant culture.

Genoa is one of Italy’s oldest cities. Its origins trace back to ancient times when the Ligurians inhabited the city and the surrounding regions (around 2000 BC). Genoa evolved into a powerful maritime republic in the Middle Ages, with skilled navigators and influential merchants. The city established trade routes with destinations in Asia and the Americas. Genoa played an essential role in Europe’s maritime and trading hub development.

Things to See and Do in Genoa

The city’s historical significance is reflected throughout the city. Visitors can observe its well-preserved medieval old town, narrow alleyways, grand palaces, and ancient churches. The old town, Centro Storico, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors can stroll in the charming cobblestone streets, squares, and historic buildings. One must-see is the Cathedral of San Lorenzo.

Also a UNESCO World Heritage, the Palazzi dei Rolli — a collection of streets and buildings — once were the residences of Genoa’s noble families. They showcase Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Hop on to the Via Garibaldi, a street lined with beautiful palaces, most of which are museums, to learn about the city’s wealth and culture during the Renaissance era.

Visitors can end the visit at Porto Antica, the city’s old port full of thousands of years of history. It was revitalized recently and is now home to the Bigo Panoramic Lift and the Galata Maritime Museum. The former offers panoramic views of the city!

With a mix of Italian and Mediterranean influences, the Liguarian culture has delicious cuisine, festivals, and an extensive appreciation for the arts. Visitors can try the Ligurian cuisine, using seafood, basil, oregano, and the famous Genovese pesto sauce. Additionally, visitors can hop in the Teatro Carlo Felice, a cultural institution that hosts opera, ballet, and concerts. Multiple street festivals, parades, music, and traditional dances occur throughout the year.

Tainan, Taiwan

Beautiful scenics of Tainan park, used to call Zhong Shan Park or be refer to Sun Yat-Sen Park. This beautiful historic park first appearance on the island is around Qing dynasty in Tainan, Taiwan

The Tainan Park is a hidden gem in the city.

©The HippoZoom/Shutterstock.com

Columbus and Tainan became sister cities in 1980. It was Columbus’s second sister city and first in Asia. Through their partnership, Columbus developed an earthquake relief fund after the 2016 devastating earthquake that killed over 100 people.

Tainan has a rich history and culture in the southwestern part of Taiwan. On Taiwan’s western coast, this historic city — the oldest in Taiwan — sits between the rolling hills of the Central Mountain Range and the azure waters of the Taiwan Strait.

During the 17th century, Tainan became the Dutch colony of Formosa’s capital. It then followed with its role as the capital of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Thanks to its extensive history, the city boasts many historical sites, with ancient temples, colonial-era forts, and preserved Qing Dynasty architecture.

Things to See and Do in Tainan

To see some of Tainan’s historical treasures, head out to the Chihkan Tower, a fortress built by the Dutch in the 17th century. Also, the Koxinga Shrine, honoring a Ming Dynasty hero, is a must-visit.

In addition, visitors can explore the picturesque Anping Old Street and its charming alleyways, sample local snacks, and learn about Taiwan’s maritime history at the Anping Tree House. Head to the Taijiang National Park, a wetland paradise with various aquatic and bird species for outdoor activities.

Culturewise, traditional Chinese customs mix with Taiwanese and indigenous traditions. The city’s street food is a must, where tourists can try savory oyster omelets and aromatic rice cakes, offering a delectable taste of local culinary culture.

Hefei, China

sunset over Swan Lake financial business district, Hefei city, Anhui province, China

With over 4 million residents, Hefei is only the 26th largest city in China.

©Nataliya Hora/Shutterstock.com

The partnership between Columbus and Hefei started in 1988. Since then, both cities worked together on cultural exchange programs and the annual Marathon Exchange.

Hefei, located in eastern China, serves as the capital of Anhui Province. Strategically situated at the Yangtze River and Huaihe River basin intersection, it is an essential regional transportation hub and an important urban center in China.

At first, Hefei was a small settlement during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC–9 AD). Then, it evolved into a regional administrative and cultural center. Hefei played a significant role in the Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864), a significant change in Chinese history.

Things to See and Do in Hefei

Visitors can explore Hefei’s historical roots through different attractions. The Xiaoyaojin Park features ancient city walls and gates and the Memorial Temple of Lord Bao. Visitors can also discover the Hefei Swan Lake, a scenic urban park with a large lake and walking paths.

The city’s culture is primarily influenced by its location and history. The Anhui cuisine, one of China’s eight great culinary traditions, emphasizes wild herbs, freshwater fish, and unique flavors. Tourists can savor delicious local dishes such as “Braised Turtle with Ham” and “Li Hongzhang Hotchpotch.”

Additionally, Hefei has a thriving arts scene, with venues like the Hefei Grand Theater hosting traditional Chinese opera and modern theatrical productions. Visitors can also explore the Anhui Museum, which houses many historical artifacts, art, and cultural relics.

Odense, Denmark

Colored traditional houses in old town of Odense, Denmark.

Odense is the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, a famous fairytale writer.

©Perekotypole/Shutterstock.com

Columbus and Odense also became sister cities in 1988. Both cities have engaged in different exchanges, including some with Ohio State University.

Located on the island of Funen in the heart of Denmark, Odense is a colorful city. Approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Copenhagen, Odense is the third-largest city in the country.

Like many Northern European cities, Odense’s history traces back to the Viking Age. It is one of the oldest cities in Denmark and was established in the 10th century, in 988. It became a center for commerce, trade, and religious activity. Later, in the 16th century, Odense suffered from the Protestant Reformation. The religious landscape changed with Catholic institutions replaced by Lutheran ones.

Things to See and Do in Odense

In the late 19th century, specifically in 1875, Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense. He later became one of the most well-known fairy tale writers. He wrote the famous “The Little Mermaid,” adapted multiple times in movies and cartoons, and “The Ugly Duckling.” The city works to preserve its legacy and offers several sites dedicated to his life and works, like The Hans Christian Andersen House

Outside of Andersen-related attractions, tourists can visit the St. Canutes Cathedral, completed in the 11th century, a significant landmark in Odense. A short drive from the city is the Egeskov Castle, a stunning Renaissance water castle that offers insight into Denmark’s architectural heritage. For families, the Odense Zoo is a favorite.

For food enthusiasts, Odense is a great place to taste Danish cuisine. A must-try is the Smørrebrød, a Danish open-faced sandwich along with some Danish-crafted beers!

Odense is a great place to enjoy galleries, theaters, and music venues. The Odense Symphony Orchestra and the Funen Opera are notable institutions that offer multiple shows.

Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain skyline in the Old Quarter.

Catedral de Sevilla is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Seville and Columbus started their partnership as sister cities in 1988. Both cities focus their partnership on exchange programs.

Seville, or Sevilla in Spanish, is in the southern part of Spain, in the autonomous community of Andalusia. Nestled along the banks of the Guadalquivir River, Seville is one of Spain’s most iconic and culturally rich cities, famous for its fascinating history and vibrant culture.

Various civilizations, including the Romans, Moors, and Christians, influenced Seville’s history. In 43 BC, Julius Caesar took the city and renamed it ‘Lulia Romuela’ or ‘Romula’. It became one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire.

Centuries later, in the early 8th century, Seville was captured by the Moors (a term used by Christian Europeans to designate Muslim populations). They ruled the city for several centuries, and Seville experienced a period of great cultural and economic prosperity known as “Ishbiliya.”

Later, Seville played a crucial role during the Age of Exploration, as it was one of the main ports for ships traveling to and from the New World during the 16th century.

Things to See and Do in Seville

A famous attraction in Seville is the Giralda Tower, built by the Moors as the minaret of the Great Mosque of Seville. After the Reconquista in 1248, the Christian forces conquered Seville and evicted the Muslims from the city and the region. The Catholics added a Renaissance style to the mosque and converted it into a Christian cathedral called Catedral de Sevilla. The Giralda Tower, as the former minaret, was converted into a bell tower. Visitors can climb inside and admire stunning views of Seville.

The city is also home to the famous Alcázar of Seville or Royal Alcázars of Seville, historically known as al-Qasr al-Muriq. The Moors initially built this magnificent palace. After the Reconquista, the Castillians added features to make it a royal palace for King Peter of Castile. It is a must-see in Seville.

Strolling in Seville, visitors may encounter Flamenco performances, a famous dance from Andalusia. Seville is also home to various festivals, the Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Feria de Abril (April Fair).

Additionally, visitors can stop in the city’s bustling markets like the Mercado de Triana and savor traditional dishes like gazpacho, salmorejo, and tapas.

Dresden, Germany

Scenic summer view of the Old Town architecture with Elbe river embankment in Dresden, Saxony, Germany

Dresden is close to the Czech and Polish borders.

©Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock.com

In 1992, Dresden and Columbus became sister cities. Since then, they have worked to create different cultural exchange programs, such as the Dresden Summer Language Program and the Marathon Exchange.

In the eastern part of Germany, Dresden is a city with a rich history and stunning architecture. Nestled in the state of Saxony, Dresden rests on the banks of the Elbe River.

Dresden was once known as the “Jewel Box” for its Baroque and Rococo architecture, with iconic landmarks like the Dresden Frauenkirche, Zwinger Palace, and the Semperoper Opera House. However, during World War II, Dresden was heavily bombed in 1945, resulting in the near-total destruction of its historic center. Dresden started an extensive reconstruction effort in the following years, rebuilding many of its architectural treasures.

Things to See and Do in Dresden

The Dresden Frauenkirche, almost entirely destroyed during WWII, was reconstructed with its iconic dome. Also destroyed during the war and rebuilt, the Dresden Zwinger, an opulent palace complex, is an example of Baroque architecture. It features museums, galleries, and beautifully landscaped gardens. The Semperoper Opera House, one of Europe’s most renowned opera houses, is an architectural marvel and hosts world-class performances.

The city is also home to various museums, the Albertinum, the Green Vault, and the Dresden State Art Collections. All house an array of world-class art and historical artifacts. The city’s calendar is also full of festivals, including the Dresden Film Festival and the Dresden Music Festival.

Herzliya, Israel

Accadia North Beach,Herzliya,  Israel

The city was named after Theodor Herzl, a visionary leader of the Zionist movement.

©Yuval Cohen Drones/Shutterstock.com

Columbus started its partnership as a sister city with Herzliya in 1994. As an important business center in Israel, Herzliya holds an economic development and growth relationship with Columbus.

Herzliya, along the Mediterranean coast in Israel, is situated just north of Tel Aviv. The city of Herzliya is famous for its stunning beaches and high-tech industry.

The city’s history goes back to biblical times when it was part of the land of Canaan. Herzliya’s modern development began when Jewish immigrants founded a small agricultural settlement in 1924. Since its establishment, Herzliya has transformed from a calm coastal town into a bustling city, attracting residents and tourists.

Things to See and Do in Herzliya

In Herzliya, the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art is a must-see. This museum is a hub for contemporary Israeli art. It exhibits various contemporary artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations. The Apollonia National Park, an archaeological site in Herzliya, also offers a glimpse into the city’s ancient history, with remnants of a Roman villa and a Crusader fortress.

It is also a great place for outdoors enthusiasts. A long, white-sand beach borders the city, the perfect place to dip in the Mediterranean Sea, sunbathe, and enjoy beach and water activities. 

Ahmedabad, India

Kalupur Swaminarayan Mandir, a hindu temple in the old city of Ahmedabad - Gujarat, India

The Kalupur Swaminarayan Mandir, a hindu temple, was completed in 1822.

©Leonid Andronov/iStock via Getty Images

In 2008, Ahmedabad and Columbus became sister cities. Their relationship is primarily based on business and economic growth.

Ahmedabad is located in the western state of Gujarat, India. Situated on the banks of the Sabarmati River, it is the largest city in Gujarat and serves as the state’s economic and cultural hub.

Ahmedabad was founded in the 11th century by Sultan Ahmed Shah as the capital of the Gujarat Sultanate. It became an important center for trade, textiles, and craftsmanship for hundreds of years. Its specificity in the field of textiles earned the city the nickname “Manchester of India.”

Ahmedabad played a vital role in Mahatma Gandhi’s life and the Indian freedom movement, as it served as a base for many of his activities. The city also played a significant role in India’s struggle for independence.

Things to See and Do in Ahmedabad

Tourists in Ahmedabad can visit the Sabarmati Ashram, where Mahatma Gandhi lived for many years, from 1917 to 1930. It now serves as a place of reflection on his life and teachings. The city also has landmarks like the Jama Masjid and the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque. The Akshardham Temple, with its stunning architecture and spiritual significance, is just a short drive away. The Kalupur Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu temple, is a must-visit site in the old city.

The city is famous for different vibrant festivals, with the Uttarayan (the kite festival) and Navratri (a nine-night dance festival). With a significant influence of Gujarati culture, Ahmedabad remains a melting pot of diverse traditions, languages, and cuisines. Tourists can try famous dishes, street food, and snacks like dhokla, fafda, and jalebi.

Curitiba, Brazil

Aerial view of the Greenhouse at the Botanical Garden of Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil.

Due to its commonly foggy weather, Curitiba earned the nickname “The City of Eternal Fog.”

©Brastock/Shutterstock.com

Columbus and Curitiba became sister cities in 2014. Both cities worked on various cultural exchanges as well as the annual Marathon Exchange.

Curitiba, the capital city of the state of Paraná in Brazil, is nestled in the southern part of the country. It is approximately 250 miles (400 kilometers) southwest of São Paulo.

The city was founded in the 17th century when Portuguese settlers founded it. It then evolved from a small agricultural town to a thriving urban center with a diverse economy.

Things to See and Do in Curitiba

Tourists in Curitiba can visit the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, designed by renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, which houses an extensive collection of contemporary art. For history enthusiasts, the Museu Paranaense features artifacts and exhibits that tell the region of Paraná’s history. Curitiba is also famous for its stunning Wire Opera House. This open-air theater and its unique tubular structure welcomes cultural events and performances.

Visitors can explore the historic center and its charming streets, colonial-style buildings, and artisan markets. Additionally, Curitiba is known for its green initiatives. It boasts numerous parks and green spaces like the Botanical Garden and Barigui Park.

The city’s cultural scene is a mix of Brazilian and European influences. Visitors can explore the cultural heritage through the city’s festivals, music, and culinary traditions. Try the regional dish, “Barreado,” a delicious slow-cooked beef stew!

Accra, Ghana (2015)

panoramic view over Accra Ghana

The city of Accra is Ghana’s capital.

©Stefanie Addo/Shutterstock.com

Columbus’ latest sister city is Accra, Ghana, after they established their partnership in 2015. Both cities worked on the Initiative for Food and Agricultural Transformation, a research program focusing on creating sustainable agriculture worldwide.

Accra is on the Gulf of Guinea along the Atlantic Ocean coast in West Africa. It serves as the country’s political, economic, and cultural center. The city’s name comes from the Akan word “Nkran,” meaning “ants,” referring to the numerous anthills in the area.

In the 15th century, European explorers, including the Dutch and the Portuguese, established trade posts in the region. It eventually led to British colonization in the 19th century. A century later, Ghana gained independence from British colonial rule in 1957, and Accra became the capital.

Things to See and Do in Accra

On Independence Square, the Independence Arch symbolizes Ghana’s independence and is often featured in national celebrations. The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum honors Ghana’s first presdient, Kwame Nkrumah. It provides insight into his life and Ghana’s history. Tourists can also head to the Osu Castle, a former government and colonial administration seat.

Visitors can explore Jamestown, a historic neighborhood featuring colonial-era architecture and vibrant street art. For local craft, Makola Market is the place to go. As one of the largest markets in Accra, locals and visitors will find everything from fresh production to jewelry, textiles, and traditional crafts.

Accra is home to a diverse population of different ethnicities, including the Akan, Ga-Dangme, Ewe, and many others. Traditional festivals like Homowo, celebrated by the Ga people, and Odwira, celebrated by the Akan people, are colorful and lively events. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © f11photo/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Clémence-Maureen is a writer at A-Z animals primarily covering geography, locations and travel. She holds a Master of Science in Journalism from the University of Southern California, which she earned in 2023. A resident of Hawai'i, Clémence-Maureen enjoys hiking, surfind and volunteering in taro farms.

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