Ever since it kicked off in the distant 1985 the European Capital Of Culture program has helped numerous cities significantly improve their economics and has promoted unity, urban regeneration and awareness of cultural and historical heritage. Here’s a breakdown of all Slavic cities, which have been chosen for this grandeur over the past decades.
Krakow (Poland) – 2000
One of Poland’s official UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the city of Krakow, is a historic and academic center that dates back to the distant 7th century. Picturesque and vivid, it’s packed with splendid monuments at every turn, including the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Gory details of the concentration camp left aside, Krakow is a tourist-friendly city that will amaze every history buff out there.
Prague (Czech Republic) – 2000
Sharing the praised spot for European Capital Of Culture For 2000 with Krakow is the Czech Republic’s capital Prague. With over a million residents, gorgeous riverscapes and colorful streets, Prague is famous for many things, notably the Barrandov Studios where Hollywood blockbusters like Blade, Chronicles of Narnia and Mission Impossible have been realized. Czechs are acclaimed for their beer and Prague doesn’t fall far from the top listings with Czech breweries.
Sibiu (Romania) – 2007
This ostensibly small city in the land of Dracula is actually one of the most intrinsic cultural centers in Transylvania. Renaissance, Baroque and Middle Ages scream from every corner of the city grounds. Archeology and architecture enthusiasts will get a big kick out of visiting Sibiu any time of year and won’t be bothered by irritated locals or impatient tourists as overcrowded streets aren’t that common. In fact, Forbes labeled Sibiu as one of the most idyllic places to live!
Maribor (Slovenia) – 2012
Fragrant vineyards, cozy waterscapes and adventurous sports are just some of the main features of Maribor – the second largest urban establishment in Slovenia. If you’re into gothic and medieval buildings, hearty local meals, wine tasting and mountainous views, this city should definitely be on your bucket list.
Košice (Slovakia) – 2013
Packed with architectural splendor and various museums, Košice is an important cultural center in Slovakia that focuses on contemporary and classical performing arts, steel economy and ice hokey. The oldest annual running marathon in all of Europe is actually none other, but the October Košice Peace Marathon, which was founded all the way back in 1924 – nearly a century ago!
Plzeň (Czech Republic) – 2015
Also known as Pilsen, the city of Plzeň is quite famous for the Pilsner beer – yet another Czech beer that has won the hearts of locals and foreigners alike. During medieval times it was the third largest city in all of Bohemia and was a crucial economic, cultural and military route in Europe. A fun fact is that the engineering and automobile company Škoda was first established in this city in 1859.
Wroclaw (Poland) – 2016
Dating back to the 10th century Wroclaw has been a major hotspot for tourists for numerous decades with its kitschy landmarks (including a dinosaur park) and with its zoological garden and oceanarium, which serves as the home of a number of species that can’t be seen anywhere else in other zoos. Apart from being elected as the European Capital Of Culture For 2016, Wroclaw also entered UNESCO’s competition for becoming elected as an official City Of Literature.
Plovdiv (Bulgaria) – 2019
Being the sixth oldest city on the planet is only one of Plovdiv’s unique features. Situated on the banks of the Maritsa river, the city of the seven hills is by far one of the most lush, green and beautiful ones in Bulgaria. A combination of past and present, Plovdiv dates back to old Neolithic times as its foundations were ancient Thracian rural settlements.
Rijeka (Croatia) – 2020
Through the centuries the city of Rijeka has changed ownership on countless occasions due to the benefits its deepwater port offers. Having this in mind, it’s only natural that the region is rich in historic monuments, diverse cultural heritage and stunning marine panoramas. Albeit sharing the glamorous prize with Galway, Ireland, after evaluating Rijeka’s advantages the European Union granted it the status of European Capital Of Culture For 2020.
Timisoara (Romania) – 2021
Home of a plethora of festivals, Timisoara is well-known for its highly varied music scene. The city’s nightlife is just as lively as its monuments and tourists often favor it next to other Romanian cities. An interesting fact about Timisoara is that part of its transportation system includes vaporetto boats – waterbusses used for public transportation over the Bega canal.
Novi Sad (Serbia) – 2021
The spotlight of the European Capital Of Culture For 2021 is divided between Timisoara and Novi Sad, Serbia. Nicknamed “the Serbian Athens”, Novi Sad has played key roles for military and trade relations, making it an essential factor in Serbian economy. Although many parts of the city have been urbanized with contemporary buildings, the spirit of old Novi Sad is still there for anyone willing to explore it.
Candidate cities for upcoming votes after 2023
Here’s a list of potential winners for future elections, which have already been short-listed by the European Union: Banja Luka and Mostar (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Lendava, Ljubljana, Nova Gorica and Kranj (Slovenia), Brno (Czech Republic).