The cities of Galway, Ireland, and Rijeka, Croatia, will serve as the European Capitals of Culture in 2020. The cultural riches of the two cities will be promoted extensively by the European Union, which organizes the program as a way to highlight unique cities and promote unity within its member countries.
Both Galway and Rijeka have a rich maritime history and are located along the western coast of their respective countries. That aspect of local life also plays a role in the cities’ themes for the Capital of Culture year—Galway’s is Making Waves and Rijeka’s is Port of Diversity.
As the capital of Ireland’s Gaelic West, Galway blends medieval architecture and traditions with a vibrant social scene. Two major universities in the coastal city attract thousands of students, who lend to the fun-loving atmosphere. Quay Street is home to a number of lively galleries, cafés and pubs, as well as many historical buildings.
Those features and other aspects of the city’s culture will be highlighted as part of Galway 2020. The Making Waves theme is about creating new ways of thinking, new ways of working, new conversations and new partnerships—all aimed at ensuring a more creative Galway.
That theme will be developed through a series of programs and exhibits, one of which is called Small Towns Big Ideas. Following an open call in 2018, more than 50 cultural projects were approved that will highlight the rich culture and diversity of Galway and the surrounding communities.
Rijeka is playing up its strategic location in the northwestern corner of Croatia on the Adriatic Sea as it prepares to be a European Capital of Culture. The Port of Diversity theme reflects the city being a welcoming harbor for visitors from across the globe and a center for sustainable development.
The cultural and artistic programming for Rijeka 2020 will be focused on three topics: water, work, and migrations. More than 1,000 events, exhibitions, performances, special tours and learning sessions are in the works for next year, and they will showcase the range of experiences the city has to offer.
While no new buildings are being constructed as part of the project, existing facilities will be renovated. The industrial complex, Bencic, is being reconfigured to house the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the City Library, the Children’s House and the City Museum.
Top photo: Rijeka, Croatia
Photo by CC Flickr/Bernd Thaller: bit.ly/2LxURi7