European Capital of Culture

The European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which it organises a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension.

Preparing a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for the city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city's image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale.

In 1985, former actress Melina Mercouri, then Greece’s minister of culture, and her French counterpart Jack Lang came up with the idea of designating an annual Capital of Culture to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures and raising awareness of their common history and values.

The Commission of the European Union manages the title and each year the Council of Ministers of the European Union formally designates European Capitals of Culture: more than 40 cities have been designated so far.

An international panel of cultural experts is in charge of assessing the proposals of cities for the title according to criteria specified by the European Union.

A 2004 study conducted for the European Commission, known as the "Palmer report", demonstrated that the choice of European Capital of Culture served as a catalyst for the cultural development and the transformation of the city.[1] Consequently, the beneficial socio-economic development and impact for the chosen city are now also considered in determining the chosen cities.


San Sebastián (Spain), the European Capital of Culture for 2016
Wrocław (Poland) is the European Capital of Culture for 2016 along with San Sebastián.

The European Capital of Culture programme was initially called the European City of Culture and was conceived in 1983, by Melina Mercouri, then serving as minister of culture in Greece. Mercouri believed that at the time, culture was not given the same attention as politics and economics and a project for promoting European cultures within the member states should be pursued. The European City of Culture programme was launched in the summer of 1985 with Athens being the first title-holder. During the German presidency of 1999, the European City of Culture programme was renamed the European Capital of Culture.[2]

List of European Capitals of Culture

European Capitals of Culture
Year # City Country Notes/Links
1985 Athens  Greece
1986 Florence  Italy
1987 Amsterdam  Netherlands
1988 Berlin  Germany
1989 Paris  France
1990 Glasgow  United Kingdom
1991 Dublin  Ireland
1992 Madrid  Spain
1993 Antwerp  Belgium
1994 Lisbon  Portugal
1995 Luxembourg  Luxembourg
1996 Copenhagen  Denmark
1997 Thessaloniki  Greece
1998 Stockholm  Sweden
1999 Weimar  Germany
2000 Avignon  France The year 2000, called the millennium year, was treated by the European Union in a special way,
in order to emphasize the enduring heritage and contribution of European cities to the achievements
of world culture and civilization. Because of that, as many as seven European Union cities were chosen,
together with two cities of new member states that were to join the EU on 1 May 2004.[3]
Bergen  Norway
Bologna  Italy
Brussels  Belgium
Helsinki  Finland
Kraków  Poland
Prague  Czech Republic
Reykjavík  Iceland
Santiago de Compostela  Spain
2001 Rotterdam  Netherlands
Porto  Portugal
2002 Bruges  Belgium
Salamanca  Spain
2003 Graz  Austria
2004 Genoa  Italy
Lille  France
2005 Cork  Ireland
2006 Patras  Greece
2007 Sibiu  Romania Sibiu 2007
Luxembourg  Luxembourg
2008 Liverpool  United Kingdom
Stavanger  Norway
2009 Vilnius  Lithuania
Linz  Austria
2010 Essen  Germany representing the Ruhr as Ruhr.2010
Istanbul  Turkey
Pécs  Hungary
2011 Turku  Finland
Tallinn  Estonia
2012 Guimarães  Portugal
Maribor  Slovenia Maribor 2012
2013 Marseille  France Marseille-Provence 2013
Košice  Slovakia
2014 Riga  Latvia
Umeå  Sweden Umeå 2014
2015 Mons  Belgium Mons 2015
Plzeň  Czech Republic Plzeň 2015
2016 San Sebastián  Spain San Sebastián 2016
Wrocław  Poland Wrocław 2016
2017 Aarhus  Denmark Aarhus 2017
Pafos  Cyprus Pafos 2017
2018 Leeuwarden  Netherlands Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018
Valletta  Malta Valletta 2018
2019 Matera  Italy Matera 2019
Plovdiv  Bulgaria Plovdiv 2019
2020 Rijeka  Croatia Rijeka 2020
Galway  Ireland Galway 2020
2021 1 Timișoara[4]  Romania Timișoara 2021
2 Eleusis  Greece candidate cities:,[5] Kalamata, Rhodes /
eliminated: Delphi, Ermoupoli, Ioannina, Nafplio, Sparta, Tripoli, Corfu
31 Novi Sad  Serbia Novi Sad 2021
2022 bids until 24 May 2016[6][7]
TBA during 1st half of 2017[8]
 Lithuania candidate cities:[9] Kaunas, Klaipeda /
eliminated:[10] Anykščiai, Jonava, Plungė and Rokiškis
 Luxembourg candidate city:[11] Esch-sur-Alzette /
eliminated:[12] Differdange, Luxembourg City
2023 TBA  Hungary
TBA  United Kingdom potential candidate cities: Bristol,[13] Dundee,[14] Leeds,[15] Milton Keynes[16]
2024 1 TBA  Estonia
2 TBA  Austria tender to be opened in 2018, announcement in 2020 at latest[17]
2025 TBA  Slovenia
TBA  Germany potential candidate cities: Bremen,[18] Chemnitz,[19] Dresden,[20] Frankfurt,[21] Halle/Saale,[22] Hildesheim,[23] Magdeburg,[24][25] Nürnberg,[26] Würzburg[27]
2026 TBA  Slovakia
TBA  Finland
2027 1 TBA  Latvia
2 TBA  Portugal potential candidate cities: Aveiro, Leiria
2028 TBA  Czech Republic
TBA  France
2029 TBA  Poland
TBA  Sweden
2030 1 TBA  Cyprus
2 TBA  Belgium
2031 TBA  Malta
TBA  Spain potential candidate cities: Cáceres, Granada
2032 TBA  Bulgaria
TBA  Denmark
2033 1 TBA  Netherlands
2 TBA  Italy

1 A new framework makes it possible for a city in a candidate country or potential candidate for EU membership to hold the title every third year as of 2021. This will be selected through an open competition, meaning that cities from various countries may compete with each other.[28]

See also


  1. Palmer, Robert (2004) "European Cities and Capitals of Culture" Part I. Part II. Study prepared for the European Commission
  2. Kiran Klaus Patel, ed., The Cultural Politics of Europe: European Capitals of Culture and European Union since the 1980s (London: Routledge, 2013)
  3. Association of European Cities of Culture of the Year 2000
  4. Selection of the European Capital of Culture in 2021 in Romania, The Selection Panel’s report Pre-Selection Stage
  5. 3 Greek cities shortlisted for the title of European Capital of Culture 2021 in Greece
  6. European Capital of Culture 2022
  7. Appel à candidatures pour la Capitale européenne de la Culture 2022
  8. Kaunas and Klaipéda shortlisted for the title of European Capital of Culture 2022 in Lithuania
  9. The short-list of candidate cities to hold the title of the European Capital of Culture 2022 announced
  10. Six Lithuanian municipalities bid for the title of the European Capital of Culture 2022
  11. Cultural offer in the Grand Duchy - international, and much appreciated
  12. Quelle ville sera capitale européenne de la culture en 2022?
  16. "European Capital of Culture - Milton Keynes Council". Retrieved 2016-01-12.
  17. "BKA-353.120/0144-I/4/2014" (PDF). Bundeskanzleramt Österreich. 23 December 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  18. Kulturhauptstadt 2025 – soll Bremen es nochmal versuchen?
  19. Chemnitz will Europäische Kulturhauptstadt werden
  20. Dresden will Kulturhauptstadt 2025 werden
  21. Frankfurt soll sich gemeinsam mit Offenbach bewerben
  22. Halle will "Kulturhauptstadt Europas" werden
  23. "Stadt Hildesheim - Tagung zum Thema „Kulturhauptstadt Europas 2025"". Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  25. Magdeburg als Europäische Kulturhauptstadt 2025
  26. "Nürnberg verhält sich nicht wie Kulturhauptstadt"
  27. Würzburger OB offen für Bewerbung
  28. "European Capitals of Culture". European Union. 5 June 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
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