The European Capital of Culture is a title awarded by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which the city organizes a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension. The initiative aims to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe, foster a sense of belonging to a common cultural area, and promote the city on an international scale.

Selection Process: The process to become a European Capital of Culture begins with a selection procedure that occurs several years in advance. Cities interested in applying for the title must submit a proposal outlining their cultural program and demonstrating its integration with the long-term cultural and social development of the city. The application for Maribor would have been developed and submitted by the city authorities, likely in collaboration with cultural institutions and stakeholders from the city and region.

Maribor’s Proposal: Maribor’s successful proposal focused on opening new cultural spaces, including renovating existing but neglected cultural landmarks and creating new ones. The bid highlighted the city’s potential for cultural development and offered a program that featured both local and international artists and cultural workers. The program was designed around the concept of “pure culture” and aimed to foster creativity, culture, and arts as driving forces in society.

Evaluation and Selection: Following the submission of the proposal, an international panel of cultural experts evaluated Maribor’s bid, alongside those from other Slovenian cities. The panel judged the bids based on their European dimension, cultural and artistic content, capacity to deliver, and potential for long-term cultural, social, and economic impact.

Announcement: After this thorough evaluation process, Maribor was announced as the European Capital of Culture for 2012. This marked the beginning of an intense period of preparations to realize the cultural program outlined in the bid.

Cultural Year: Throughout 2012, Maribor, along with its partner cities from the region, hosted a vibrant and diverse program of cultural events, which included music, theatre, visual arts, literature, and digital arts, among others. The city saw increased international visibility and tourist arrivals, and the title helped to stimulate the cultural and creative sectors and contributed to the city’s cultural and social development.

The journey to becoming the European Capital of Culture required strategic planning, creative programming, and wide-ranging collaboration, but the title helped to spotlight Maribor on the European cultural map and left a lasting cultural legacy in the city.