European Capital of Culture

European Capital of Culture
The Cathedral of Turku, one of the most notable historical buildings in Finland. Turku is one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2011
Tallinn's skyline. Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and is one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2011 along with Turku.

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 by Robert Palmer for the European Commission, 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.



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 Greek Minister of Culture. 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.

List of European Cities/Capitals of Culture

EU Capitals of Culture
Greece Athens (1985)  
Germany Berlin (1988)  
France Paris (1989)  
Spain Madrid (1992)  
Portugal Lisbon (1994)  
Sweden Stockholm (1998)  
Czech Republic Prague (2000)  
Netherlands Rotterdam (2001)  
Romania Sibiu (2007)  
Turkey Istanbul (2010)  

According to the official EU website.[2] The cities and countries from 2020–2029 are not yet finalised.

Cities that have shown interest within their countries to bid for becoming European Capital of Culture:

See also


  1. ^ Palmer, Robert. "Study on the European Cities and Capitals of Culture and the European Cultural Months (1995-2004)". European Commission. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  2. ^ Official EU website


  • García, B. (2005) “De-constructing the City of Culture: The long term cultural legacies of Glasgow 1990”, in: Review Issue of Urban Studies (vol. 42, No. 5/6, pp. 1–28).
  • García, B. (2004) “Cultural Policy in European Cities: Lessons from Experience, Prospects for the Future”, in: Special edition on Cultural Policy and Regeneration, Local Economy (vol 19, No. 4, pp. 312–326).
  • García, B. (2004) “Urban Regeneration, Arts Programming and Major events: Glasgow 1990, Sydney 2000 and Barcelona 2004”, in: Gibson, L. & Stevenson, D. (Eds) Special Issue of the International Journal of Cultural Policy: Urban Space and the Uses of Culture (vol 10, No. 1, pp. 103–118).

External links

Current cities
Past cities
Future cities
Potential European Capitals of Culture

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