Plovdiv – a strong European Capital of Culture

Plovdiv in Bulgaria: European Capital of Culture 2019

The Culturebrand Team congratulates the Bulgarian City Plovdiv to a successful year with the prestigious Title “European Capital of Culture 2019”. The independent selection panel responsible for assessing the Bulgarian cities competing to be European Capital of Culture in 2019 recommended, that Plovdiv should be awarded the title. The other three Bulgarian Cities short-listed after the initial selection round in December 2013 were Sofia, Varna and Veliko Turnovo. The formal nomination of Plovdiv by the EU’s Council of Ministers took place in May 2015.

Plovdiv is the second-largest City in Bulgaria after the capital Sofia with a Population of 345.000 inhabitants. The nominated Bulgarian City Plovdiv is located in south-central Bulgaria on the Maritsa River. The city has historically developed on seven syenite hills and is also known as “The City of the Seven Hills”. Plovdiv is the tenth-largest city in the Balkans after Istanbul, Athens, Bucharest, Belgrade, Sofia, Thessaloniki, Zagreb, Skopje and Tirana.

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, congratulates Plovdiv on winning the Title “European Capital of Culture 2019.

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, stated: “I congratulate Plovdiv both on its successful bid and also on being the first ever European Capital of Culture in Bulgaria. The competition was tough, with eight initial contenders narrowed down to four finalists. I am confident that Plovdiv will enable visitors from Europe and all over the world to discover not only the city itself but also to appreciate the cultural diversity, history and values of our continent. I am convinced that the title will bring Plovdiv and its surrounding area significant long-term cultural, economic and social benefits, as we have seen with previous European Capitals of Culture.”

Bulgaria and Italy shared the Title in 2019.

The criteria state that cities should prepare a cultural programme with a strong European dimension, which fosters the participation of citizens in the city, its neighbourhood and the whole country. The programme must have a lasting impact and contribute to the long-term cultural and social development of the city. The European dimension is reflected in the chosen themes and in the way events in the programme are organised. Cooperation between cultural operators in different EU countries is encouraged.


The process for selecting a European Capital of Culture begins with a pre-selection phase after which an initial shortlist of bidding cities is drawn up. The final selection takes place nine months later. The city chosen by the panel is then officially designated by the EU’s Council of Ministers. The panel assessing the cities is made up of 13 independent cultural experts – six appointed by the Member State and seven by the European institutions.

Following Umeå (Sweden) and Riga (Latvia) this year, Mons (Belgium) and Plzen (Czech Republic) will be European Capitals of Culture in 2015, Wrocław (Poland) and Donastia San Sebastián (Spain) in 2016, Aarhus (Denmark) and Paphos (Cyprus) in 2017 and Valletta (Malta) and Leeuwarden (Netherlands) in 2018.

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