The European Capitals of Culture celebrate their 30th anniversary in Mons 2015

  • Monday, 23 February, 2015
  • Mons, Belgium

From Athens in 1985 to Mons and Pilsen in 2015, 50 cities across Europe have been European Capitals of Culture. Over the past 30 years, European Capitals of Culture have grown into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe. They have become some of the best known – and most appreciated – activities of the EU.


Started on the initiative of the then Greek Culture Minister Melina Mercouri, the project's original motivation is still valid: promoting the EU's cultural diversity and common cultural features while bringing citizens closer together around our core values through the universal language of art and culture.

For a city and its surrounding region being a European Capital of Culture can lead to huge cultural, social and economic benefits. Cultural activity in the city increases and new audiences can be reached. Cities also take this opportunity to regenerate, raise their international profile, boost creativity and innovation, develop new and more sustainable forms of tourism and strengthen their citizens' role in city making. For example, the average increase of overnight stays upon the previous year is 12%. It is also estimated that every euro spent in public funding generates up to eight euros for the local economy.

On 23 February, Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport will take part in a tribute paid by Mons 2015 to Melina Mercouri as part of the city's international Love Film Festival. A street of the city will be named after the Greek actress and politician.