European Capital of Culture

Giuliano Gallanti, President of the Genoan Port Authorities (left) and Loyola Palacio (right) meeting in Genoa (Photo: European Commission)

European Capital of Culture

The Council launched the European Capital of Culture event in 1985, at the initiative of Greek Minister Melina Mercouri. The event has been used as an opportunity for the chosen city to showcase itself and to attract investment. 

In 2000, the EU had no less than nine Cultural Capitals. After fears that the title was losing currency, the selection procedure was reformed and from 2005 onwards, only two cities will share the title each year. 

The new procedure is based on a rotation principle, with individual EU member states able to suggest one or more Cultural Capitals for a particular year. 

2 cities are European Capitals of Culture at a time. Countries are by law assigned a year in which to nominate a city. Chronology of host countries: 


2004 Italy (Genova), France (Lille) 


2005 Ireland (Cork) 


2006 Greece (Patras) 


2007 Luxembourg - Romania (Sibiu) 


2008 United Kingdom (Liverpool) - Norway (Stavanger) 


2009 Vilnius, Lithuania - Linz, Austria 


2010 Essen, Germany - Istanbul, Turkey - Pécs, Hungary 


2011 Turku, Finland - Tallinn, Estonia 


2012 Guimarães, Portugal - Maribor, Slovenia 


2013 Marseille Provence, France - Košice, Slovakia 


2014 Sweden - Latvia 


2015 Belgium - Czech Republic 


2016 Spain - Poland 


2017 Denmark - Cyprus 


2018 Netherlands - Malta 


2019 Italy - Bulgaria