European Capitals of Culture 2022 take off
Novi Sad, Esch and Kaunas all hold the title of European Capital of Culture in 2022. A "drunken clock," 5,000 years of city history and the birthplace of a very special woman: The cities have a lot to offer.
Novi Sad — the Serbian Athens
Novi Sad, Serbia's second-largest city, is colorful, loud and diverse, with a palpable cultural pulse. It is home to Serbs, Hungarians, Slovaks, Croatians, Rumanians, Montenegrins and Roma, among others. In the 19th century, Novi Sad was an important center of trade and production, leading to its nickname, "Serbian Athens." Its year as European Cultural Capital was postponed to 2022 due to COVID.
The Petrovaradin Fortress, known as "Gibraltar on the Danube," is one of Serbia's most important historic and cultural monuments. It is also one of Europe's largest and best-preserved fortresses. It sits on a hill high above the Danube river and features 16 kilometers (10 miles) of underground tunnels. Since 2001, it has hosted southeast Europe's largest music festival, EXIT, every July.
Novi Sad's 'drunken' clock
If you find yourself standing for some time in front of this clock before you know what time it is, don't worry, it's not you — the clock's long and short hands are reversed, with the short showing the minutes and the long the hour. Located within the Petrovaradin fortress and overlooking the city, the "drunken" clock was a gift from Austrian Empresses Maria Theresa in the mid-18th century.
Mileva Maric: Novia Sad's famous inhabitant
Mileva Maric, born in 1875, attended high school in Novi Sad, going on to become one of the first women in Serbia — and in the world — to receive a math and physics degree. In 1903, against the wishes of her mother, she married her classmate Alfred Einstein. The marriage broke down 11 years later. To this day, theories swirl about her possible contributions to Einstein's relativity theory.
Esch – industry meets idyllic countryside
Esch is the second largest city in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It shares the European Capital of Culture title with 18 other municipalities, including eight French ones. Located between France, Belgium and Germany, small Luxembourg is of great European importance: It was here that the Schengen Agreement was adopted in 1985, abolishing border controls in parts of Europe.
History meets present times
On April 12, 1128, Esch was mentioned for the first time under the name "Asch" in a papal document. In the 19th century, the city experienced a tremendous boom, thanks to the extraction of iron ore. After the closure of the blast furnaces, the town reinvented itself — today, the university is located on the former industrial site.
University with industrial architecture
The Belval campus of the University of Luxembourg, founded in 2003, incorporates the industrial architecture of the city of Esch, as in the university library in the photo. About 6,700 students study in four languages: English, German, French and Luxembourgish. Today, people from more than 120 different nations live in Esch, which has around 36,000 inhabitants.
Kaunas: Scenic cultural year on the Neman River
On January 22, Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city, kicks off its European Capital of Culture program that promises about 40 festivals, more than 60 exhibitions and 250 events including "The International Day of Happiness" in March. The city is set to host many international stars, including Marina Abramovic, Philip Miller, William Kentridge, Yoko Ono, Jenny Kagan and Robert Wilson.
Spotlight on Jewish history
A new book, "The Jews of Kaunas," by curator Daiva Citvariene, is on the shelves for its year as European Capital of Culture. Public murals give a face to the city's Jewish inhabitants who were murdered by the Germans during World War II in the local ghetto, which was later turned into a concentration camp.
Ambitious program: Create a new myth
Organizers hope that holding the title of European Capital of Culture will give Kaunas a chance to return to its multicultural past, and overcome its reputation as the "most Lithuanian of all Lithuanian cities." To this end, citizens and institutions in Kaunas are creating a new mythical creature, like Nessi in Scotland: the "Beast of Kaunas" is to be a common myth that unites the city.
Timisoara — 'Little Vienna'
Timisoara, in western Romania, was long a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city's brightly colored and freshly restored historic facades recall that era. Today Timisoara is still nicknamed "little Vienna." Its splendor and richness have made it one of the country's most popular destinations. Initially chosen for 2021, it will take the spotlight as a European Capital of Culture in 2023.
Elefsina: A place of myth and ritual
The third European Capital of Culture for 2021 was to be Elefsina, in southern Greece, just 18 kilometers (11 miles) from Athens. It's also known as Eleusis, a reference to the Eleusinian Mysteries, special rituals dedicated to the ancient Greek gods Demeter and Persephone. The city was one of the most important religious centers of its era. Its program was also pushed to 2023.
Veszprem, city of Queens
The small Hungarian town of Veszprem was also chosen to hold the title of European Capital of Culture in 2023. Located about 120 kilometers away from the capital Budapest, north of Lake Balaton. For centuries, the bishop of Veszprem crowned Hungarian queens. That is why the city still boasts the title "City of Queens."