Blog post

European Capital of Culture 2022

Esch-sur-Alzette, Kaunas and Novi Sad in the spotlight

white map of Europe with purple background, and words Esch-sur-Alzette, Kaunas and Novi Sad
by
Adrian Murphy (opens in new window) (Europeana Foundation)

In 2022, three cities in Europe - Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg), Kaunas (Lithuania) and Novi Sad (Serbia) - will hold the title of European Capital of Culture.

The European Capital of Culture is an initiative putting culture at the heart of European cities, with EU support for a yearlong celebration of art and culture. It aims to celebrate the cultural features Europeans share and highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe.

Many cities across Europe have held the title since its inauguration in 1985 - let's explore what this year's trio have to offer.

Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg

Esch is a town in south-western Luxembourg, situated on the border with France. The town is in the valley of the Alzette river, which flows through the town.

black and white archive photograph of a large group of people with horses and carts in an urban street
black and white photograph of a people walking along an urban street

Esch developed from a small village during the middle of the 19th century, with its growth fuelled by mining and steel industries. Its population grew from just hundreds of people in the 1820s to more than 10,000 by the 1900s. Many of the industrial features became disused during the late 20th century, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s and have now been converted to other uses.

dark blue postage stamp with image of factories with smoke coming from their chimneys, and text '2 Luxembourg Fr' above
colour artwork depicting a train station with modern architecture

The town's football team, the Jeunesse d'Esch, has won the Luxembourg Football Championship 28 times, the most of any team.

Esch is the second city in Luxembourg to be crowned a European Capital of Culture, after Luxembourg City in 1995 and 2007.

colour photograph of the City Hall building in Esch-sur-Alzette

Esch2022 aims to celebrate the history of a cross-border region located in the heart of Europe, telling the story of its evolution from the industrial age to today's knowledge society and its future digital potential.

Kaunas, Lithuania

Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania, after the country's capital Vilnius. Between 1920 and 1939, Kaunas was the capital and largest city of Lithuania and today is an important centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life.

colour photograph of a city street in Kaunas, a building with two towers in the background
sepia black and white photograph, view of Kaunas from across a river

During the interwar period, Kaunas was nicknamed 'Little Paris' because of its rich cultural life. In particular architecture and design flourished in the city. Both Art Deco and Lithuanian National Romanticism styles are reflected in buildings as well as furniture and interior design of the time. This architecture has received the European Heritage Label, and Kaunas was the first city in Central and Eastern Europe to be designated as a UNESCO City of Design.

colour photograph of a large white cathedral against a bright blue sky
colour photograph of a geometric brick building

The city is home to Kaunas Fortress, one of the largest defensive structures in Europe. The city's arena, the Žalgiris Arena, is the largest indoor arena in the Baltic states. It is named for basketball club, Žalgiris - the most-succesful Lithuanian basketball club, having won 23 Lithuanian championships, 5 Soviet championships and 1 European championship.

colourised black and white photograph showing a tram and traffic on a city street in Kaunas
black and white photograph, three jumping men playing basketball

Kaunas is the second city in Lithuania to hold the European Capital of Culture title after Vilnius in 2009. During 2022, Kaunas will host around 1,000 cultural events including festivals, exhibitions, performing arts and concerts.

Novi Sad, Serbia

Novi Sad is the second largest city in Serbia, situated in the south of the Pannonian Plain. It lies on the banks of the Danube river. Novi Sad was founded in the 1690s as a strategic military post crossing the Danube, and became an important trading, manufacturing and cultural centre. Its name Нови Сад means 'new plantation' in Serbian.

colour postcard of a ferry boat passing on a river in front of buildings on the river bank
colour photograph of buildings in Novi Sad including a hotel and church spire

In the 19th and early 20th century, Novi Sad was the capital of Serbian culture, earning it the nickname 'Serbian Athens'. Many renowned Serbian writers and publishers have lived or worked in Novi Sad during their careers. The Serbian National Theatre was founded in the city in 1861. Since 2000, Novi Sad is home to one of the biggest music summer festivals in Europe, the EXIT festival.

colour photograph of an orange and white building in Novi Sad
colour photograph of a building with ornamental design in Novi Sad

Novi Sad is the first city in Serbia to hold the European Capital of Culture title.

Its year-long cultural programme includes more than 1,500 cultural events. It aims to further connect the city with the European Union and the Western Balkans, based on eight themes including migration, peace, multiculturalism and the role of women in art and youth culture.

European Capital of Culture Lithuania Luxembourg Serbia