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City of Queens to Excite Europe as Next Capital of Culture Beyond Expectations

Ábrahám Vass 2019.01.09.

In 2023, Hungary will once again host the European Capital of Culture (ECoC). Following a long selection process, the city of Veszprém has emerged as the winner.

The bid, as its title “Beyond” suggests, was not only about the city of Veszprém, but also about the surrounding area. According to Mayor Gyula Porga, the city cooperated with over 200 other municipalities in the Lake Balaton and Bakony hills area. “Our application is led by the City of Veszprém, but extends far beyond our city boundaries to include the Balaton region – its protected and NATURA 2000 areas, its UNESCO Geoparks and cultural landscape as UNESCO World Heritage nominees,” they described in the bid.

For the bid, organizers gathered the most well-known and respected personalities of the city and Balaton area: scholars, wine-makers, handball players (the city’s male handball team is one of the best in Europe), fashion designers and artists. After the result had been released, Tibor Navracsics, the Hungary-delegated European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “After Pécs, it will now be the turn of Veszprém, my home town, to be in the spotlight for one full year. I am convinced that the city and its region will be able to make the most of the European Capital of Culture title.”

How Veszprém Became the City of Queens

Veszprém, one of the oldest urban areas in Hungary, was the favorite city of Queen Gisela, the wife of St. Stephen, hence its slogan: the ‘City of Queens’. The city is Hungary’s 16th biggest with about 60,000 residents. Veszprém has long been known for its lively culture, festivals, university and sports life. For example, during the Street Music Festival–often referred to as one of Hungary’s most unique summer events–the city turns into one big festival square. Anyone who has the courage can become a performer and concerts are free of charge.

Veszprém’s bid logo, involving and connecting surrounding areas like Lake Balaton and the Bakony hills.

How Veszprém Won It

In 2017, seven cities submitted applications: Debrecen, Eger, Gödöllő, Győr, Székesfehérvár, Szombathely and Veszprém. The pre-selection meeting took place in February 2018 and three cities (Debrecen, Győr and Veszprém) were short-listed. Each year two cities, rotating between countries, are elected to become the capital of culture. In 2023, however, Veszprém will be the only one to hold the title due to Brexit.

Veszprém to Repeat Pécs’s Success

Since the program’s kickoff in 1985, Hungary will host the European Capital of Culture for the second time–the first being in Pécs in 2010. In Pécs, a number of long-lasting infrastructural, touristic and cultural projects have been realized and reportedly the title has been beneficial for the city’s international reputation.

featured image via Veszprém 2023- Facebook