Most places have got one. Some even have several. But many people know nothing about them.
Twin towns supposedly encourage tourism, help us experience new cultures and bring us closer to places all around the world.
Having been adopted after the Second World War, the practice was designed by the Germans to develop a friendship and understanding between the former enemies.
But twinning can be seen as outdated, expensive or even pointless – so is it still relevant today? The Leicester Chronicle explores more.
Leicester has six twinned cities: Strasbourg, Krefeld, Masaya, Chongqing, Rajkot and Haskovo.
As time has moved forward, the friendship between towns and cities has become commonplace, sharing resources and good practice.
Over the years, Leicester has made a number of friends all across the globe, and not just in Europe.
What is a twinned city?
Twin towns or sister cities are a form of legal or social agreement between towns, cities, counties, oblasts, prefectures, provinces, regions, states, and even countries in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.
The modern concept of town twinning, conceived after the Second World War in 1947, was intended to foster friendship and understanding between different cultures and between former foes as an act of peace and reconciliation and to encourage trade and tourism.
In recent times, town twinning has increasingly been used to form strategic international business links between member cities
We believe that these ties with our international friends should be celebrated. The Leicester chronicle is working on a project to hopefully get a fingerpost erected with directions and distances to the cities twinned with Leicester.
The price of friendship.
Leicester City Council – which needs to save £61m by 2018 – has spent £100,000 on its twinning links in the past three years. That included £1,661.30 on flags.
The chairman of the City of Leicester European Twinning Association, Peter Lee, said the city did get good value for money, but it could do more.
“What we really need, in order to get an economic benefit, trade and that sort of thing, would be full-time workers on the project,” said Mr Lee.
“I don’t think there’s anywhere near enough trade between Leicester and Krefeld.”
But more subtle than the trade links are the friendships that have been born out of the twinning projects.
In 2002, when Leicester firefighter Bob Miller died in a factory fire, Krefeld firefighter Ulf Tabbart not only got a group together to go to the funeral but also organised a fundraising event in his honour.
“Friendship is like the stars in the sky – you cannot see them but you know they are there.”
There are also countless examples of cultural links. Theatres, choirs and orchestras across the East Midlands often perform in their towns’ twin.
But in this era of austerity, twinning is not just about making friends, but making money.
Continues on the next page below the advertisement.