Renowned as the birthplace of Aphrodite and standing as one of the most famous places of pilgrimage of the Ancient Greeks, the entire Paphos town stands proud as a UNESCO world heritage site. But now, locals have yet another accolade to be proud of, having won the international competition to become the European Capital of Culture for 2017 along with Aarhus in Denmark.
Designed to bring the citizens of Europe closer together by the EU Council of Ministers in 1985, the ‘Capital of Culture’ concept has since gone from strength to strength, with the title leading to great cultural and socio-economic impact for each country awarded the title. With preparations now underway in Paphos as it responds to the ambitious project, it aims to fast become the most hospitable capital of Europe.
But what, exactly, is going to change, and what can visitors look forward to? First and foremost, it aims to make the very best of all the town’s sites- from historical ruins to beachside splendors- by turning each and every one of them an ‘Open-Air Factory of Culture’.
“It can best be described as an open factory for humanity, art and culture, where everyone (from all professions and all different ages) are invited to participate and share experiences,” says Artistic Director of Paphos 2017, Marios Ioannou Elia. Most importantly, visitors are invited to share experiences alongside locals as boundaries are blurred and everyone engages in cultural banter.
“It aims to be a place where they can put aside their differences and create a unified whole, where each individual contributes through their diversity, to create a collective identity. And we don’t just mean the identity of Paphos, but that of Europe as well.”
All about ‘Linking Continents and Bridging Cultures’, Paphos has always been at the crossroad of the Eastern Mediterranean, and through its modern multicultural reality, Paphos now aspires to become the first European Capital of Culture which will link the East and the West, bridging people and cultures, while also becoming a place of cultural collaboration and peaceful coexistence.
What’s particularly exciting is that every corner of the town, including its parks, streets, neighbourhoods and beaches, will be converted into an outdoor cultural hall. From the castle square and the archaeological park, to the wild Akamas Peninsula and tiny villages in between, there will be much to capture the imagination as each and every community will be doing their bit to host various displays of European culture under the blue skies.
As for the winter months, visitors can look forward to a variety of activities in some great indoor venues including the Paphos Archaeological Museum, the old Othello cinema, the Markidio Theatre, the Old Power House Cultural Centre and the Municipal Gallery.
“Our programme is aimed at showing what Paphos really is and what the city aims to achieve with inspiration, passion and much determination,” points out Elia. “Heir to a cultural development spanning over 9000 years, a popular tourist destination for tens of thousands of visitors, and a living example of a multi-cultural society, Paphos wants to reveal what it has absorbed and what it has given back.
Above all, however, Paphos seeks to show how it can contribute to the European cultural scene with innovation, creativity and a desire to evolve from the past, while simultaneously advancing with respect towards a truly authentic future.
As the spotlight shines bright on the rich cultural heritage of the seaside town, visitors will soon be able to enjoy an endless source of inspiration round every turn as Paphos prepares to wow anyone and everyone who touches down on its golden shores.