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Education & culture DG
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Capitale européennes de la Culture

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Each year, cities chosen as European Capitals of Culture – in 2011 Tallinn, and Turku – provide living proof of the richness and diversity of European cultures. Started in 1985, the initiative has become one of the most prestigious and high-profile cultural events in Europe.

More than 40 cities have been designated European Capitals of Culture so far, from Stockholm to Genoa, Athens to Glasgow, and Cracow to Porto.

A city is not chosen as a European Capital of Culture solely for what it is, but mainly for what it plans to do for a year that has to be exceptional. Its programme for the year must meet some specific criteria.


The European Capitals of Culture initiative was set up to:

In addition, studies have shown that the event is a valuable opportunity to:

Selecting a Capital of Culture

The Council of the European Union is the only institution that can award the title of European Capital of Culture.

From 2011, two cities – from two different EU countries – are European Capitals of Culture each year.
The procedure for choosing a city starts around six years in advance – though the order of Member States entitled to host the event is fixed before then and is organised in two stages. It involves a panel of independent experts in the cultural field responsible for assessing the proposals. Once designated, the preparations of the European Capitals of Culture are monitored.

List of cities already chosen

Chronological list of Member States entitled to host the events

More on the selection procedure

Quick links

Past European Capitals of Culture

Good practice for European Capitals of Culture

History of the European Capitals of Culture initiative

In depth

Summary of the 25 year anniversary conference on the European Capitals of Culture

Turku, European Capital of Culture 2011

Tallinn, Turku, European Capital of Culture 2011

The brochure: the road to success from 1985 to 2010

European Capitals of Culture: the road to success

Official documents

European Capital of Culture for the years 2007 to 2019

Study on the European Cities and Capitals of Culture and the European Cultural Months
Palmer report