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Culture

Euro Vision

Europe's new banknotes are decorated with a freshly imagined continental architecture, but drawn from history.

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New euro notes

The whole of Europe will be paying with bank notes sporting his designs: gateways on the front and bridges on the back. The new money for Europe was created by the Austrian artist Robert Kalina.

The notes come in seven denominations, depicting evolving stages of European architecture. They start with Classical at five euro, rising through Romanesque 10, Gothic 20, Renaissance 50, Baroque 100, Iron and Glass 200, and Twentieth Century for the 500 euro bill.

Their designs, created by Robert Kalina, depict the architectural styles of seven periods in European cultural history, translating into seven denominations of euro banknotes - 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euro.

The notes are identical for all 12 euro zone countries. On one side they carry pictures of windows and gateways, intended to symbolise a spirit of openness, and on the other pictures of bridges to signify cooperation.

"Even after the design was chosen there were months of work getting the final version finished. I still can't yet come to grips with the idea of designing money for 380 million people - that alone is enough of a worry without all the other criticisms."

He said of the final design. "I was only given two months and I decided on windows and archways, open ones to suggest looking toward the future, and bridges to symbolise communication and connection. You can find these motifs anywhere in Europe."

But not all Europeans are happy with the look of the euro. Robert Kalina has had to take severe criticism for his designs. "I'm sure there will be even more criticism when the notes are in circulation and this will end up on my plate," he said.

"At the moment it's not real money, just printed paper. It only becomes real when it's distributed and then the problems will start."

His claim to fame, however, is confirmed. The Austrians already refer to the new banknotes as Kalinas, after the artist who created them.

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