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The European Capital of Culture is the most important cultural institution of Europe and a great tribute for all cities and their active citizens. On the one hand it promotes the unique cultural identity of all nations, and on the other hand it highlights the common characteristics of our European identity.

Thanks to the proposal of the late Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri, the institution has been established by the Council of the European Union as an intergovernmental initiative since June 1985.

The title is designated by the European Union for a period of one year during which a city is given the opportunity to invest in its cultural life and development, but also in important infrastructure works. Meanwhile, it is a high level cultural project that is being monitored by the European Commission so that the programme content of all European Capitals of Culture is maintained to the highest standards.

The impact of the Project and the implementation path of a European Capital of Culture has turned into a model followed by many European cities seeking cultural growth and image change. The European Capitals of Culture have become a popular destination, while the variety and the quality of their cultural programme acts as an important catalyst for cultural tourism.

View the programme of events at this link

For more information you may contact Pafos2017 Offices at tel. +357 26 932 017 or


Pafos has a remarkable historical legacy with many wonderful cultural heritage sites that is why it occupies a prominent place in the history and culture of both Cyprus and Europe.

The cultural treasures of Paphos include monuments and archaeological sites, such as the ruins of Aphrodite’s sanctuary, castles, theaters, fortresses, the impressive underground Tombs of the Kings that date back to the 4th century BC and the famous Roman mosaics in Nea Pafos.

In 1980, UNESCO listed the archaeological sites of Kato Paphos among its World Heritage Sites, while Paphos became one of Cyrpus’ most important cultural centers and a very attractive tourist destination. Nevertheless, up to date, many archaeological and other sites of historical and cultural importance for Paphos are either excluded or segregated from the rest of the city.

Pafos has always been a segregated city. In ancient times, the first settlement of Pafos was built in Palaepafos (Kouklia village area), and then it was moved west to Nea Pafos (Kato Pafos). Nowadays, the town is divided into the upper part, which is known as Pano Pafos or Ktima and the lower part near the sea, which is known as Kato Pafos. After the Turkish invasion in 1974, Pafos became a major tourist destination. However, due to the irregular urban development and the fact that the Turkish Cypriot residents of Pafos abandoned their houses in the centre 1974, the majority of the city’s residents no longer live in the city centre and the city has not been yet able to integrate all its citizens since locals, migrants and tourists have little interaction with each other.

In 2017, the first capital of Cyprus in Hellenistic and Roman times becomes once again a capital: The European Capital of Culture.


The award of the title of the European Capital of Culture and its consequential requirements led to the establishment of the Pafos2017 Organisation in 2013, as a non-profit limited liability company, assigned with the task of creating a programme with the highest standard. The Pafos2017 Organisation is responsible for the implementation and management of the European Capital of Culture project, based on the proposal that gained Pafos the title in 2012. The development of the course of this project started in 2014, was enhanced in 2015, was extended in 2016 and will finally culminate with a spectacular programme of events in 2017. The Pafos2017 Organisation will present 152 projects and more than 300 actions and events in the city and region of Pafos, but also in other cities of Cyprus and Europe. Driven by the cultural events and activities in which the local community will take part, as well as by the works focusing on the tourism sector and the infrastructure that the city will inherit, we hope to create a distinct cultural structure for Pafos and Cyprus as a whole.


The philosophy of the Pafos2017 programme has a dual significance: first, it was developed based on a tradition spanning thousands of years when culture was enacted out in the open air and second, it was based on the acknowledgement that there is a necessity for a new openness in our way of thinking, living and acting so that we may re-connect spaces and people in our region. The concept of the Open Air Factory is also closely related to tolerance, acceptance, encouragement and inclusion of different cultures, ideas and beliefs. The Open Air Factory will extend outwards to Pafos’ municipalities and smaller communities in order to promote the activities of the Pafos2017 programme and create a common ground for communication and collaboration for all the people.


Pafos, has always been at the crossroad of the Eastern Mediterranean and through its modern multicultural reality Pafos now aspires to be the first European Capital of Culture, which will link East and West.

Its geographical proximity to Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, and the European mainland, positions Pafos to act as a link for cultural exchange between Europe and the Middle East.

Our motto expresses the need for linking and bridging the differences between Pafos’ various groups of citizens: permanent residents, visitors and migrants. Moreover, it stresses the importance of uniting the scattered parts of the city and transforming the entire district of Pafos into a common and shared space for all its citizens - symbolically and physically.


The programme of the European Capital of Culture consists of 3 thematic lines which include events, action and interventions from different genres.

This thematic line refers to Pafos’s cultural heritage, historical background, reflecting and placing prominence to the characteristics that gave birth to civilisation and defined its evolution throughout the course of history. Within this thematic line the projects will develop themes on beauty, divinity and mysticism, weaving stories and legends that evolved in Pafos then transcended into the European cultural forum.

This thematic line refers to the relationships of people over time and expresses the interactions and the mutual influences, not only through conflict and dispute, but also through collaboration, exchange, brotherhood and co-existence.

This thematic line refers to the present and the future. It presents the contemporary world with its technological breakthroughs, its significant problems, its dreams and hopes, and its initiatives and ideas for change. The common future of the two Cypriot communities and the development of an intercultural dialogue are key topics.

Pafos most exciting year will be marked by three highlight events which will reflect the spirit of the thematic lines.

THE OPENING CEREMONY – 28th of January 2017

Inspired by the thematic line Myth and Religion linked with the history of Pafos, the Opening Ceremony will take place in the centre of Pafos, with a backdrop of the beautiful neo-classical school buildings, traditional mansions and the town hall. The location of the event, the buildings, the streets, the trees and the familiar surroundings will become an OPEN AIR FACTORY on the night of the ceremony. Music, dance, theatre, street shows and many other parallel events will be held throughout the city, giving locals and visitors a taste of what will follow throughout the year.


For Pafos and Cyprus it will be a great honour to host for the first time ever the world famous Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in the Pafos Castle Square for a unique concert within the frame of the European Capital of Culture Pafos2017. The Berlin Philharmonic is one of Europe’s greatest orchestras, with hundreds of concerts, performances and recordings all over the world.

THE SUMMER HIGHLIGHT - 1st of July 2017

Inspired by the thematic line World Travellers, the event will take place at the harbour area, the landing point where throughout history travellers arrived in Pafos. Fleets of boats, fire in the sea, underwater surprises, 3D mapping of the castle, light shows, digital media, and music are just a few of the activities that will take place during this spectacular event.


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