A short history of the programme


The prestige title of a European Capital of Culture (ECoC) is designated by the Commission of the European Union to cities of EU member states since 1985. This programme is associated with Greece’s minister of culture – Melina Mercouri, who contributed a great deal in increasing the role of culture in the European Union. Until the year 2004 the programme was called the European City of Culture. Since 2004 the title changed to European Capital of Culture.  Since 2009, two cities are selected each year – one from the original EU members states and one from the new members. From 2021 and every three years thereafter, a third city will be chosen. The winning city is designated by the Council of Ministers of the European Union based on the recommendation of the Commission of the European Union.

What does the ECoC programme offer?


The ECoC programme provides an opportunity for the winning city to present its cultural potential, lifestyle and development. The aim of the programme is to raise awerness about the richness and diversity of European cultures, highlight the cultural characteristics of Europe, support of participation on the shared cultural identity of Europeans and development of culture and European awereness.
The benefits of the programme can also be increasingly seen in areas of transformation, re-generation and development of cities through culture; in the development of cultural, transport and urban infrastructure; increase in tourism; creation of new partnerships in domestic and also international environment, etc.
For the first time Slovakia got this title in 2013.
Out of nine candidate cities the title of European Capital of Culture went to Košice with their project Košice Interface 2013.

The ECoC selection process

The process of selection of the ECoC can have two outcomes:

  • designation of the ECoC title
  • awarding of the € 1.5 milion Melina Mercouri prize

In the case the prize is awarded, it is paid in the year when the winning city holds the title.


The application should be based on a strong cultural and artistic program, that should contain a strong European dimension and added value and should support cultural diversity of Europe, inter-cultural dialogue and appreciation between European citizens. The determining factor will be the breath and variety of suggested activities and their artistic value. The cultural program should cover the entire year of the ECoC title and must be prepared for this purpose. Criterion of cultural and artistic program is the ability to combine the local cultural heritage and traditional forms of art with new, innovative and experimental cultural forms. Activities that will be undertaken should highlight common aspects of European cultures, heritage and history, European integration and current European topics. The variety and quality of activities is supported by involvement of European artists, international cooperation, cooperation with cities that also hold the title and global partnerships. Added value of the activies is also involvemet and attraction of interest of wide European and international public.

The selection of the ECoC is managed by a group of 12 international experts that considers the applications. The selection has two stages. First stage is a pre-selection stage. Deadline for an application is October 31, 2020. Successful cities will go into a second stage of selection, i.e. a narrower list of candidates. These will advance and develop their applications further to meet the selection criteria.


The selection criteria for designating the title are sub-divided into six categories:

1. Cotribution to the long-term strategy
2. European dimension
3. Cultural and artistic content
4. The ability to achieve the objectives
5. Reach
6. Management

Why Hlohovec as ECoC?

Many of you will say it’s impossible. Perhaps you’ll even say we are naïve and our visons are unrealistic. Why associate Hlohovec with ECoC?

Not only because we believe in the quality of the programme, but mainly because WE BELIEVE IN PEOPLE OF THIS REGION. We can see a huge potential that can be boosted by ECoC. We are convinced that this is exactly the moment, the inspiration, the moving force that will shift everything forward, so that we as a town and region can showcase ourselves and the very best we can offer outside Slovakia as well as outside Europe. Get excited with us, believe in your potential. It will cross borders, your personal and of our state. Let’s work together on this unique European project.

  • because it supports, develops and presents the traditional and contemporary culture and arts
  • because is supports the traditional manufacturing in the region
  • because based on the principle of cultural diplomacy, it builds a positive picture of the country and mainly the winning city and region holding the title abroad
  • because it can bring opportunities in potential foreing investments
  • because it will attract new visitors to the town
  • because it will kickstart many forms of participation and cooperation
  • because it’s bringing a cultural and emotional experience
  • because it builds communities
  • because it boosts the ability to facilitate and fulfill the potential of the town, people and communities
  • because through culture it can influence the look and character of the town
  • because it’s a way to leap forward not only in the area of culture and arts

What will the project bring for Hlohovec?

To be given the title of ECoC means a rare opportunity for the town, that could be the catalyst for a positive cultural, social and economic growth.  Previous European Capitals of Culture demonstrated that getting the title could be an extraordinary chance to re-generate and re-start the region. 

  • ECoC programme brings new challenges and opportunities through which communities, organisations, companies and individuals will get a chance to learn and gain new experience

  • it has a long-term positive effect on the economic and social development of the town
  • it encourages tourism
  • it restores and develops cultural, transport and urban infrastructure
  • it develops creative and cutlural industry and creates new job opportunities
  • in a long-term horizont, it creates and develops encouriging creative environment, that forms conditions for development of the cultural sector in town
  • it stimulates creative and cultural activity and brings sustainable activities that will have positive effect on cultural life of the town