10 smaller European Capitals of Culture you may not have heard of

It’s not just major European cities that benefit from the award, many other destinations have received a cultural boost over the 35 years of the project

In 1983, Melina Mercouri, the then Greek minister of culture, proposed a scheme to celebrate art, history and heritage across Europe. By putting a different city in the spotlight each year, Mercouri hoped to showcase the continent’s cultural diversity, while highlighting shared values. The European Capital of Culture programme, which was established in 1985, has been a huge success, with more than 60 cities receiving a profile boost (two or more cities now often share the annual honour).

Related: Rijeka in Croatia: the culture capital that knows how to party

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