The institution of the European Capital of Culture, which was created in order to bring peoples of Europe together, is an EU action for promoting diversity, the common aspects of European cultures and mutual understanding between European citizens. This institution was established by the Council of Ministers in June 1985 as an intergovernmental initiative, following the proposal by Melina Mercouri. Greece has already hosted the title of the European Capital of Culture three times (Athens 1985, Thessaloniki 1997 and Patras 2006). It is also worth mentioning that the designated cities from 2010 onwards have been awarded the prize “in honor of Melina Mercouri”, amounting 1.500.000€. Each year two cities from two different EU Member States will hold the title. The competition for the hosting of the tile starts six years in advance, so that cities have sufficient time to prepare before the launch of the title year. Greece will host the institution in 2021, along with Romania and one city from a candidate or a potential candidate country for accession to the EU, which will be designated in 2017.



Rhodes is the largest island and the capital of the Dodecanese. “Dodecanese” actually means “12 islands”, though, in fact, the archipelago in question consists of 18 inhabited islands and numerous islets. The Dodecanese has a population exceeding 190,000 inhabitants and covers an area of more than 2,500 square kilometers. Each island has its own cultural identity and offers unique inspiration for artistic expression. The Dodecanese Islands form a rich and intricate tapestry to explore. It is the first time ever that a regional complex of islands, like Rhodes-Dodecanese, is a candidate for the title of European Capital of Culture. During the pre-selection stage of the competition, the Rhodes-Dodecanese candidacy was presented, along with thirteen other Greek cities, before a twelve-member panel of international experts, on the 25th of February 2016.

During the first phase of the candidacy, an independent group of people worked closely with the islands' societies to prepare the basic axes of the candidacy and the artistic program. In the event Rhodes wins the designation, all thirteen candidate cities are invited to participate in the Rhodes-Dodecanese 2021 cultural program.

The concept of the Rhodes-Dodecanese 2021 candidacy, entitled “Journey to the Light”, is based on 3 axes:

→Forming an attractive space for creative people

→Encouraging meaningful intercultural dialogue between the West and the East

→Exploring the possibilities for sustainable development in insular and remote areas

The panel’s decision on the 26th of February added the Rhodes-Dodecanese 2021 Candidacy in the short list for the final selection stage, along with Eleusis and Kalamata. The second and final presentation will take place on the 10th of November 2016.

During the second phase of the candidacy, Rhodes took the initiative of proposing and drafting an amendment to the legal framework governing local authorities, that enables the three candidate cities to to meet the European Capital of Culture action’s particular eligibility requirements.

The amendment was approved by the Hellenic Parliament on the 7th of June 2016. Following that development, the city council, by decision n. 539/2016, approved the constitution of a special purpose legal entity, in the form of an incrporated company (S.A.) under the title “Rhodes 2021”, to take over the candidacy procedures in accordance to the decision no 445/2014/ΕΕ (16/4/2014) of the European Committee. The “Rhodes 2021” can be financed by both the public and private sector. Its duration is extended up to six years for the winning city, in order to provide for all aspects of the realization of the European Capital of Culture program.

“Rhodes 2021” is expected to work under very tight deadlines until the submission of the second bid book to the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, on October 5th 2016. The new bid book contains a detailed presentation of all ideas, actions, infrastructures, strategies, budget and management provisions, produced by Rhodes-Dodecanese 2021 candidacy for the European Capital of Culture title.