Fourteen Greek cities rich in history, culture and stunning natural landscapes are bidding for the title of the European Capital of Culture in 2021, aiming to promote their cultural heritage and identity to Europe and the world:Piraeus, the historical port city within the greater Athens area; Kalamata, the beautiful city on the SW Peloponnesian coast, with its long history of cultural activities; Volos, the seafront city with a mythical past and famous home of the Argonauts; stunning Delphi on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, considered the centre of the world in antiquity, bringing its values from the navel of the earth to the heart of Europe; Corfu, with its rich multi-cultural heritage and glorious past, whose goal is to attract those creative industries that can provide a new platform for cultural growth and potential development; elegant and historic Mytilene (Lesvos), already honoured as Capital of Solidarity; Samos, with its rich ancient past, culture and beauty; Ioannina, with its wealth of attractions and museums, aiming to bring cumulative social and economic benefits to the whole region of Epirus;Larisa; Tripolis; Rhodes; Eleusis; Messolonghi; Salamina.
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The European Capital of Cultureprogramme was initially conceived in 1983, by Greek actor Melina Mercouri, then serving as Minister of Culture. It was created in order to bring peoples of Europe closer together, enhancing cultural wealth of diversity, common aspects of European cultures and mutual understanding between European citizens. Three Greek cities have been European Capitals of Culture in the past: Athens in 1985, Thessaloniki in 1997 and Patras in 2006. One of the candidate Greek cities will host the institution in 2021, along with Romania and another city from a candidate or a potential candidate country for accession to the EU, which will be designated in 2017.