The “European Capital of Culture” is an honorable title designated to a European city each year by the European Union, greekcitytimes.com reports.
The honored city holds the title for a period of one year, during which it is given the opportunity to showcase its cultural life and development.
In the past, several European cities have ‘used’ their time as “Cultural Capitals” to completely transform, update and innovate their cultural image in the global arena and attract visitors from all over the world.
The European Capital of Culture awards started in 1985, at the initiative of the then Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri. The concept of the awards was conceived as a way of approaching European citizens from all countries of the EU and bringing them together, via educational, cultural, and entertaining events.
EU Capital of Culture Awards
Up until 2004, the member states of the EU unanimously selected the most likely cities to become Capitals of Culture and host a series of cultural events, while the European Commission awarded a grant to the selected city each year. Since 2005 the EU institutions of the member states and cultural organizations are the ones that take part in the process of selecting the cities that will host the event, while the winner city receives the prize of 1.5 million Euros.
Greece leads the way, along with Italy, Spain, France and Belgium, by winning the title four times during the past 30 years, while Germany has won 3 awards, the UK has won 2 awards, and Cyprus was awarded in 2017 for the city of Paphos.
The four Greek cities that were named European Capitals of Culture, and stood out for their rich history and cultural contribution to the world, among all other cities of Europe are Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, and Elefsina.