The prestigious title of European Capital of Culture is awarded by the European Union for one calendar year, during which the city in focus organizes a series of cultural events embodying a strong European essence. The initiative seeks to celebrate the depth and diversity of cultures in Europe, stimulate a sense of belonging to a shared cultural realm, and elevate the city’s stature on an international level.

The Preliminaries: The quest to become a European Capital of Culture commences several years in advance, with a detailed selection procedure. Prospective cities are required to present a proposal, delineating their cultural program and substantiating its harmony with the city’s long-term cultural and societal development strategy. In Maribor’s case, the application would have been conceived and submitted by city officials, possibly in conjunction with regional cultural institutions and stakeholders.

The Winning Proposal: Maribor clinched the title with a compelling proposal, underscored by the revitalization of new cultural spaces. This encompassed refurbishing existing, yet overlooked cultural landmarks, and fostering new ones. The city’s potential for cultural evolution was accentuated in the proposal, presenting a vibrant program featuring local and international cultural exponents. The program, crafted around the concept of “pure culture,” sought to stimulate creativity, culture, and arts as propelling forces within society.

Evaluation and Selection: Subsequent to proposal submission, an international committee comprising cultural experts appraised Maribor’s bid, juxtaposed with those from other Slovenian cities. Assessment criteria centered on European dimension, cultural and artistic content, execution capacity, and the potential for lasting cultural, social, and economic impacts.

The Announcement: Following meticulous evaluation, Maribor emerged as the chosen European Capital of Culture for 2012. This announcement set the stage for a fervent period of preparations to actualize the cultural program delineated in the bid.

The Year of Culture: Throughout 2012, Maribor and its regional partner cities hosted an eclectic blend of cultural events, spanning music, theatre, visual arts, literature, and digital arts. The city reveled in increased global visibility and a surge in tourism, while the title acted as a catalyst for the cultural and creative sectors, contributing significantly to the city’s cultural and societal growth.

Securing the title of European Capital of Culture required strategic foresight, inventive programming, and comprehensive collaboration. However, it placed Maribor firmly on the European cultural atlas, leaving an indelible cultural legacy in its wake.