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Dear Reader,

For over 650 years, as a former market town, then a royal free city, the city of Debrecen has been unswerving in its dedication to the preservation of national identity, to loyalty and in standing its ground against the oftentimes strong current of history. Since the establishment of the Debrecen Reformed College, for almost 500 years it has been contributing to the growth of global and Hungarian cultural history, creating one of the highest-standard cradles of education, religion and culture in Hungary as well as Europe.

It is a firm fundament carrying our churches, schools, museums, libraries, galleries, the theatre and our unique institutions of community education, where dedicated Debreceners provide access to high-quality and value-producing culture. It is with this deep-rooted awareness of our identity that we intend to apply for the title of European Capital of Culture in 2023. Writing and compiling the application is supported by the aforementioned social collaboration.

I wish You an enriching time reading the Debrecen 2023 Programme website.

László Papp

Mayor of Debrecen City of County Rank


The European Capital of Culture Programme is one of the most prestigious cultural programmes of the European Union. It is an honourable title awarded to two, exceptionally three European cities each year.

The programme was launched in 1985 on the initiative of Melina Mercouri, the Greek Cultural Minister at the time. Athens was the first European Cultural Capital; since then 57 cities have held this title for a year. The awarded cities realise most of the programmes and investments from municipal, public and private funds, while the financial support from the European Union is mainly symbolic: in the case of fulfilling the conditions the winning city is entitled to the Melina Mercouri Prize of 1.5 million EUR.

The regulations of the European Union define the basic principles and values that the awarded cities need to focus on. In the past decades, cities have concentrated primarily on large-scale investments and tourist attractions. Currently the most important criteria include planning programmes that fit the cities’ general development strategy, involving and mobilising the local society, enhancing the access to culture, and placing the city on the map of European Culture.

The ECC programme on the European Commission website:

The Ministry of Human Capacities subsite on the topic:

Debrecen 2023

In Hungary only one city has held the title to date: in 2010, Pécs became the European Capital of Culture. Debrecen was among the applicants, too, and even though the city failed to win the competition, several cultural developments contained in the original application have been successfully implemented since then.

Now alongside Debrecen several Hungarian cities are in competition to become a cultural capital in 2023. Hungarian applicants must complete and submit their applications by 20 December 2017. The proposed programmes will be evaluated by an international panel of judges responsible for selecting the winner.

Early last year our city commenced preparing and setting up the system of organisations necessary for writing a successful application. In the next couple of months, however, the city will be facing the task of preparing an application of the highest possible quality by involving as many citizens, proactive and self-organised communities, artists, disadvantaged groups, local ventures and culturally active local people as possible.

In connection to the application we will be organising several programmes in the city where citizens can speak their mind and share their views and ideas with the Programme Office staff as well as the city’s leaders. Our goal is to base the application to be submitted on the broadest possible social consensus.

Click HERE to view / download our final bidbook.



Mailing address: II/13, 2/a Simonffy street, Debrecen, 4025, Hungary

Márton Méhes

D2023 Program Board
Edit Koroknai 
Terka Láposi 
Péter Kovács DLA
Gergely Tamás Fazakas Dr.
Péter Szirák Dr.
Dávid Zsoldos 
József Fekete 
Péter Gemza 

Debrecen2023 Programme Office
Dániel Somogyi-Tóth managing director /
Gyöngyi Porkoláb director of operations /
András Süli Dr. creative advisor /   
Franciska Papp project manager /
Borbála Majer-Kálmán project manager /
Julianna Máró press and PR /
László Reszegi social media expert /
Attila Nagy graphic designer /
István Derencsényi photographer