The European Capital of Culture in Greece, in 2021

European Capital of Culture

In 2021, it is the turn of Greece and Romania to nominate the European Capital(s) of Culture For Greece, the candidate cities are : Ermoupolis (Syros), Piraeus, Ioanina, Volos, Kalamata, Tripoli and Nafplion. The final decision will be known in September 2016.

Did you know that the “European Capital” was originally the idea of Melina Mercouri and the very first nominated city in 1985 was Athens?
Here below a bit of history:

On November 22, 1983 at Zappeion Megaron in Athens, the then Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri gathered all the Community Culture Ministers. Melina 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.
At the meeting, Melina asked the following question: “How is it possible for a Community which is deprived of its cultural dimension to grow?” and continued: “our role as Ministers of Culture is clear. Our responsibility is a must. Culture is the soul of Society. Therefore, our foremost duty is to look at the foundations and nature of this Community. This does not mean that we should impose our ideas. On the contrary, we must recognize the diversities and the differences among the people of Europe.”

Melina Mercouri also mentioned: “ It is time for our voice to be heard as loud as that of the technocrats. Culture, art and creativity are not less important than technology, commerce and the economy.”

Afterwards, on June 19th 1983, the declaration was signed in Stuttgart, by the Heads of Government: for the first time cultural co-operation acquired real meaning, the agreed aim was to achieve a better knowledge by each member of the community of their cultural creativity and common history and culture. Melina proposed immediately to designate each year a “European city as a Cultural Capital” of Europe.

The European City of Culture program 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 program was renamed the “European Capital of Culture”

According to the EU-website of today, 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.
Important Note:

The honorary distinction to make Athens in 1985 the first European Capital of Culture, was not only offered to Athens solely for its long contribution in the area of Culture, nor for its accomplishments in art, literature and science which have left their mark on the cultural growth of Europe, but also because, once again, Greece had the inspiration and taken the initiative to propose a new cultural event, essential for binding together the countries of a future politically unified Europe.

Throughout the years, the institution went through a lot of change and, thus, today, instead of one Cultural Capital per year, we have two or even three (the third usually comes from a country which is not part of the EU yet), in an effort to tighten relations through cultural exchange.