Every year, European Capitals of Culture highlight the richness of Europe’s cultural diversity and take a fresh look at its shared history and heritage, promoting mutual understanding and showing how the universal language of creativity opens Europe to cultures from across the world.


Downtown Aarhus, Denmark © Dmitri Popov .jpg

With “Rethink” as its central theme, Aarhus 2017 (Denmark) will show how arts, culture and the creative sector can help us to rethink and shape our basic social, urban, cultural and economic patterns of behaviour and nd new solutions to common challenges. A rooftop Viking saga performance, an art exhibition stretching across the city and the coastline, a “Creativity World Forum” and an international children’s literary festival are just some of the many events which will create new ways to build on our shared past.

PAPHOS 2017 (Cyprus) will embrace its experiences of multiculturalism and the city’s geographical proximity to the Middle East and North Africa to strengthen

relations between countries and cultures. “Linking Continents, Bridging Cultures” is the common thread running through hundreds of events, which will unite the city and bring citizens, migrants and visitors together through culture. Building on a tradition of thousands of years of cultural life in open spaces, PAPHOS is set to become an immense open stage, an “Open Air Factory”, where cultural actors and citizens can come together to explore contemporary ways of creating and living.



European Capitals of Culture are one of the most recognised EU projects. They started in 1985 on the initiative of the then Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri.

The idea is to put cities at the heart of cultural life across Europe. Through culture and art, European Capitals of Culture improve the quality of life in these cities and strengthen their sense of community. Citizens can take part in the year-long activities and play a bigger role in their city’s development and cultural expression.

Being a European Capital of Culture brings fresh life to these cities, boost- ing their cultural, social and economic development. Many of them, like Lille, Glasgow and Essen, have demonstrated that the title can be a great opportunity to regenerate their urban centres, bringing creativity, visitors and international recognition.


Marseille-Provence 2013 (France) transformed itself physically with additions such as the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations. The European Capital of Culture was part of an investment project in new cultural infrastructure of more than e600 million – which was in turn integrated into a multi-billion euro effort to revitalise the city that spanned several decades. Marseille 2013 raised e16.5 million in private sponsorship from 207 companies. In Košice 2013 (Slovakia), the private sector and local universities worked together to transform an industrial city to highlight creative potential, new cultural infrastructure and establish Košice as a tourist hub for the Carpathian Region.