Trenčín boasts many historic buildings

Trenčín joins Oulu as 2026 European Capital of Culture

Trenčín joins Oulu as 2026 European Capital of Culture

2021 title holders Novi Sad (Serbia), Timisoara (Romania) and Elefsina (Greece) move over to 2022 due to the pandemic

Trenčín has joined the Finnish town of Oulu in becoming the 2026 European Capital of Culture, having defeated seven Slovak competitors for the title. Last week, the international jury picked the Western Slovak city out of the trio of finalists, which also included Nitra and Žilina.

Opportunity to accelerate the city change

"The European Capital of Culture project is another link in the mosaic of our city's transformation that we began eleven years ago. The title gives us the opportunity to accelerate the planned change and prove that our city and region have a huge potential to become modern, open, European," said the mayor of Trenčín Richard Rybníček, as quoted by the municipal website. 

The mayor emphasized that the bid has succeeded thanks to the support of the city partners - the self-governing region of Trenčín with its cities, the Zlín region, the Ministries of Culture, Defence and Foreign affairs, the A. Dubček University of Trenčín, volunteers and the corporate sector. He also expected that the title could convince young residents who had left the city in search of better opportunities to return.

Singing bridge

2026 may look like a distant reality, but the city has already rolled up its sleeves. Among the first moves is the setting up of the Trenčín Creativity Institute, a non-profit organisation that will oversee the Trenčín 2026 project.

Work has started on a number of events on the Cultivating Curiosity programme, including City Reimaging, a project dealing with visual smog and public space, and Fiesta Bridge, which will convert a disused railway bridge into a new centre for contemporary culture.

Thanks to an innovative sound installation, the old bridge is practically singing under the feet of passers-by, whose steps unlock a song created of 16 unique music layers. The music for this interactive work of art has been composed by the young performer Tomáš Trník, alias Toello, who hails from Trenčianske Teplice. Behind the project assisted by the Trenčín 2026 team is the TRAKT civic association with partners from the cultural and technological sectors.

Melina Mercouri Prize

To support its ECOC bid, Trenčín borrowed the Garage stage from the Pohoda Festival organisers to give local youths a temporary venue for gigs and events over the autumn months of 2021.

Trenčín is the second Slovak municipality to win the ECOC title after Košice, which held it in 2013 with Marseille in France. After the city completes its programme of cultural activities in 2026, it could obtain the Melina Mercouri Prize worth 1.5 million paid by the European Commission, as was the case of previous title holders.

Pandemic reshuffle

The European Capital of Culture initiative was proposed in 1983 by Melina Mercouri, acclaimed Greek actress and former minister of culture, with the aim of promoting Europe’s cultural diversity. Naturally, the Greek capital Athens became the first title holder.

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing restrictions have torpedoed the programmes of the three 2021 ECOC winners: Novi Sad (Serbia), Timisoara (Romania) and Elefsina (Greece). This has necessitated a reshuffle, with Serbia joining Lithuania and Luxembourg in 2022, and Greece and Romania moving over to 2023, when the Hungarian city of Veszprém will keep them company.



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