Capitals of Culture

One can not emphasize exactly how much culture Europe has to offer. Europe’s ages of humanism, realism, creativity and exploration pulled Europe out of the dark ages and the rest of the world and human civilization into the modern age.

Greece was the birth of western civilization. Their literary, political, scientific and philosophical principles set it apart from other civilizations. Their formation of city states, government, politics and democracy provided individual identity. As well they provided, cultural contributions to the arts, medicine and sciences.Rome then further made cultural contributes to law, engineering, architecture, language and government.

Europeans would later re-discovered these concepts that would propel Europe into a renaissance of thinking. This would lead to a reformation of religion, exploration and colonization of most of the world and industrialization of society. From the mid 16th century to the 20th century Europe would dominate most of the world politically, militarily and economically.

Most visitor’s go to Europe to experience this array of culture that has evolved through its vast diversity and history over the centuries. Because of this we have categorized areas of interests. You may find some are duplicated because they can come under several classifications. 

Cultural Web Sites

 France ➾ Centre des Monuments Nationaux

Germany ➾ Historic Germany

Portugal ➾ Aldeias Historicas d Portugal

Spain ➾ Spain is Culture

United Kingdom ➾ English Heritage

European Commission annually designates a city or cities, to exhibit their culture. In the last 30 years starting with Athens in 1985 and member of the EU has been able to participate in this event. According to the European Commission the European Capitals of Culture initiative is designed to:

  • Highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe
  • Celebrate the cultural features Europeans share
  • Increase European citizens’ sense of belonging to a common cultural area
  • Foster the contribution of culture to the development of cities

In addition to this, experience has shown that the event is an excellent opportunity for:

  • Regenerating cities
  • Raising the international profile of cities
  • Enhancing the image of cities in the eyes of their own inhabitants
  • Breathing new life into a city’s culture
  • Boosting tourism

Initially just one city hosted to the event from 1985-1999. In the year 2000 nine cities hosted to celebrate the millenium. Since then there have been years when two or three cities have been hosts. You will note that EU member countries alternate to host the event with cities competing for the opportunity to exhibit their culture.

It is advisable to plan a visit to one of these cities in a year when they are a capital of culture. Special events, attractions, and exhibits will be available that you normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to see or do.

1985Athens Greece2010Essen Germany
1986Florence Italy2010Istanbul Turkey
1987Amsterdam Netherlands2010Pécs Hungary
1988West Berlin West Germany2011Turku Finland
1989Paris France2011Tallinn Estonia
1990Glasgow United Kingdom2012Guimarães Portugal
1991Dublin Ireland2012Maribor Slovenia
1992Madrid Spain2013Marseille France
1993Antwerp Belgium2013Košice Slovakia
1994Lisbon Portugal2014Riga Latvia
1995Luxembourg City Luxembourg2014Umeå Sweden
1996Copenhagen Denmark2015Mons Belgium
1997Thessaloniki Greece2015Plzeň Czechia
1998Stockholm Sweden2016San Sebastián Spain
1999Weimar Germany2016Wroclaw Poland
2000Avignon France2017Aarhus Denmark
2000Bergen Norway2017Paphos Greece
2000Bologna Italy2018Leeuwarden Netherlands
2000Brussels Belgium2018Valletta Malta
2000Helsinki Finland2019Matera Italy
2000Kraków Poland2019Plovdiv Bulgaria
2000Prague Czechia2020/2021Rijeka Croatia
2000Reykjavik Iceland2020/2021Galway Ireland
2000Santiago de Compostela Spain2022Kaunas Lithuania
2001Rotterdam Netherlands2022Esch-sur-Alzette Luxembourg
2001Porto Portugal2022Novi Sad Serbia
2002Bruges Belgium2023Veszprém Hungary
2002Salamanca Spain2023Timișoara Romania
2003Graz Austria2023Eleusis Greece
2004Genoa Italy2024Tartu Estonia
2004Lille France2024Bad Ischl Austria
2005Cork Ireland2024Bodø Norway
2006Patras Greece2025Nova Gorica/Gorizia Slovenia/ Italy
2007Sibiu Romania2025Chemnitz Germany
2007Luxembourg City Luxembourg2026Trenčín Slovakia
2008Liverpool United Kingdom2026Oulu Finland
2008Stavanger Norway2027Évora Portugal
2009Vilnius Lithuania2027Liepāja Latvia
2009Linz Austria

* Starting in 2021 the third city will be a non alternating slot so countries and cities may openly compete against each other. This will also allow cities to re-host every third year, providing they win the competition.