Newport’s twin towns: the places around the world with links to our city

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Have you ever found yourself on Heidenheim Drive or Kutaisi Walk and wondered where these names came from and what places inspired them?

The reasons behind it all have to do with Newport’s international relationships, with friendships spanning across Europe.

Both Heidenheim, in Germany, and Kutaisi, in Georgia, hold a special place in their hearts for Newport.

And it’s not just a one-way street – literally – there are roads in both Heidenheim (Newporter Straße) and Kutaisi (Newport Street) named after Wales’ third-largest city.

But when and why did these links begin?

Heidenheim, Germany



Heidenheim in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Newport’s first twin town is Heidenheim in Germany, with a connection that dates back to 1980.

As you might expect, the two twins have quite a lot in common.

Heidenheim is a city in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg – a region which is home to the Swabian people.

The Swabians, like the Welsh, are proud of their cultural identity, which is distinct from that of the rest of Germany.

The location of Newporter Straße in Heidenheim:

They have their own dialect, Swabian – or Schwäbisch, in German. Although a dialect of German and not a separate language (as is the case with Welsh and English), it can be hard for a speaker of standard German to follow a conversation held in Swabian due to the many differences.

Like Newport, Heidenheim also has a castle at its centre and is home to ancient Roman baths, which the city is famous for. The baths are remnants of ancient Aquileia, an important Roman settlement in Heidenheim.



The castle at the centre of Heidenheim

In 2006, Heidenheim held a ‘partner city weekend’, with Newport city big band travelling to the city and performing as part of the festival.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is also a strong link between both cities’ choirs.

In 2013, Heidenheim’s Oratorienchor celebrated the 23rd anniversary of their partnership with Newport Philharmonic Choir with a ceremony and joint concert. Officials from Heidenheim also visited Newport’s Eisteddfod in 2004.

Kutaisi, Georgia



Kutaisi in Georgia

Newport’s other twin town is Kutaisi – the second city of Caucasian country Georgia.

The link dates back to 1989 and was formed in the final days of the Cold War.

At that time, countries which had been part of the Eastern Bloc and were trying to move away from the influence of the Soviet Union were looking to form twinning links with western nations.

In Kutaisi, officials set their sights on Newport.

The location of Newport Street in Kutaisi:

“This particular town, maybe because Georgia is a small country and Wales is a small country, they were very keen to link to Newport,” said Caroline McLachlan, chair of the Newport Kutaisi Twinning Association.

“Possibly because Wales has its own language, its own music, its own culture. There are similarities.”

The link between Newport and Kutaisi is particularly strong, with the twinning association, run by Caroline and other people across Newport with a passion for Georgia, regularly visiting the country and keeping interpersonal links between the two cities alive.

“We’re in touch with people we met thirty years ago. Children that came to Newport have grown up with their own children,” said Caroline.



Kutaisi in Georgia

“Thirty years ago we flew there and were met by children with flowers.

“We wanted students and teachers to come over [to Wales] but obviously their parents hadn’t ever left Georgia, they hadn’t even left the Soviet Union. So I thought, if they are going to come, somebody needs to go there.”

Several members of the association, including Caroline, are honorary citizens of Kutaisi, and the link between the University of South Wales and Akaki Tsereteli State University (Kutaisi’s state University) is a strong one – with student exchanges and joint research taking place.

The Icelandic huh at the Eisteddfod:


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Former relations

Until last year, Newport also had a third link- Guangxi Province in China.

However, the link was the subject of a lot of controversy due to the province’s annual dog meat festival, held in the city of Yulin.

Almost 40,000 people signed a petition calling on Newport city council to scrap the twinning arrangement, which had previously seen Newport city officials travelling to China, and officials from Guangxi Province visiting Newport’s Eisteddod.

However, pressure from the petition was too much, and Newport council confirmed last year that the twinning arrangement with Guangxi was defunct.



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