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Pécs (Hungary), Capital europea de la cultura en 2010

Hungary's greatest series of cultural events ever began with a spectacular opening ceremony

Pécs, January 10th, 2010 ?? The year of the Pécs2010 European Capital of Culture Programme began with a spectacular production built upon the forces of openness, receptiveness, tradition, innovation and community effort. 450 of the city??s students, artists and celebrities connected to Pécs brought to life together the various facets of the city??s cultural history, during the ceremony held in the refurbished Széchenyi Square: all the values, results, and the two-thousand-year-old cultural heritage that will be a vital part of the year-long series of events.

Thousands of guests arrived from Hungary and from abroad already the days before the event to attend this unparalleled opening event filled with carnivalistic and theatrical elements, and hundreds of tickets were sold for the MÁV Nostalgia Theme Train - named Sopianae (the Roman name of Pécs) in honour of the programme -, which left Budapest to take the guests to the cultural capital??s opening event on January 10th. Before the opening ceremony, in the presence of representatives of the Hungarian and international media, Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai, Minister of Education and Culture István Hiller, Mayor of Pécs Zsolt Páva, Managing Director of Hungarofest Ltd. Rita Rubovszky, Csaba Ruzsa Managing Director and Tamás Szalay Cultural Director of the Pécs2010 European Capital of Culture programme presented the details of the programmes of the year organized by the City of Pécs, Pécs2010 Management Centre and Hungarofest Nonprofit Ltd at a press conference held for the representatives of international press.

During the event the special sheet of stamps was presented, which the Hungarian Post Office issued on January 10th, 2010 in honour of P?CS2010 European Capital of Culture. The 25 different stamps feature sights of the city of Pécs.

The Borderless City Opens its Gates
In 2010, as European Capital of Culture, Pécs awaits visitors with hundreds of programmes. The colourful, exciting events and festivals will be housed by the squares and buildings of enormous historical value of the two-thousand-year-old city, made unique by the contemporary works of art and performances that determine the current image of Pécs. In 2010, everyone who will visit one of the country??s most significant university cities, proud to host 35-thousand Hungarian and foreign students, will be able to meet the most brilliant creations of the Hungarian and European culture, learn about the arts of the neighbouring Balcanic people, and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the wonderful sub-Mediterranean, all at the same time.

Pécs Builds for the Long Term
In addition to the cultural programmes, Pécs is preparing with key investments worth HUF 35 billion, with Hungary??s greatest ever culture-based urban development. Several of these developments are closely connected to this year??s programme. The more than 70 city areas being refurbished, the central squares and parks being revived will not only make the city more liveable for its citizens, but will also allow the visitors to enjoy the cultural programmes in a unique setting. The Zsolnay Cultural Quarter, the Conference and Concert Centre, the Grand Exhibition Space and the ??Museum Street? will play a major role already in 2010, as venues for cultural programmes, whereas the South Transdanubian Regional Library and Knowledge Centre, even though it opens its gates in 2010, is definitely built for the future.

One of the key elements of the city??s winning application titled ??Borderless City? is cultural innovation, which could multiply Pécs??s already existing touristic appeal. In all of this, 2010 is only the beginning. The Pécs2010 European Capital of Culture programme ?? as the authors of the application had originally hoped ?? in addition to its ??own? key investments and to the construction of the M6 motorway, is triggering further developments in the city and in the region. Several hotel development plans are being realized, so that more four-star accommodations will await the visiting tourists. In the framework of the South Transdanubian Operational Programme there are other developments connected to the Pécs2010 European Capital of Culture Programme being realized in various towns in the region. Some of the key investments of the region are the Renaissance Theme Park of Bikal, as well as the water theme park and sports centre being built in Orfű, or the development of the Harkány spa into a health resort complex.

The marketing activity of the domestic and international network - covering 20 countries - of the Hungarian National Tourist Office places great emphasis on promoting Pécs as European Capital of Culture, in Hungary and abroad alike, this year in the framework of the Year of Festivals and already over the past two years. Therein, already more than 300 foreign media and 100 partner agencies came personally to Pécs to gather information about the touristic offer of the city and of the region, and more than 2 million copies were published of the brochure meant to promote the city??s offer on the international market. The national tourism marketing organization attracted several hundreds of thousands of visitors at the trade fairs, and 10 million visitors a year on the Internet.

Culture That Bonds
As the investments connected to this year are realized, the role played by Pécs within the region changes completely. However, here the region does not only mean Southern Transdanubia, but also the international cultural region called Southern Cultural Zone. Relying on its special geopolitical position, as well as on its cultural assets and experiences, Pécs is seeking to find its place and intermediary role in a system of interrelations that goes beyond the country??s borders. It is a known fact that in the face of political-economic disagreements between the nations, culture can bond people living on both sides of the borders. Thus, a different interpretation of the word borderless means a spiritual crossing of the border, as culture ?? using the common language of art ?? can generate a new relationship between countries and people.

The words cooperation and collaboration gain new meaning in Pécs via the European Capital of Culture programme. The strength of culture brings together and joins the players from all fields of life: culture and arts, civil organizations, the economy sector and the political elite alike. Cooperation is not merely realized on the city level, but also on county-, regional-, governmental- and naturally European Union-level as well. The extended network provides strong bases for the year of 2010 to become the most important milestone of sustainable, culture-based city development.

Besides the future potential, it is the cultural heritage of the city that made Pécs appropriate and worthy to bear the title of European Capital of Culture in 2010. The thousand-year-old bishopric, the early Christian burial chambers which were designated part of the UNESCO world heritage in 2000, the significant contemporary artists, the museums, or the Bauhaus heritage are just a few examples to name.

Along Pécs, Istanbul and Essen in the Ruhr Region also hold the title of European Capital of Culture in 2010. Because of the historical and cultural traditions it is important for each city to collaborate with its co-capitals. With the German partners, the basis for this cooperation rests on the existing excellent cultural relations, whereas with Istanbul, in addition to the common past, on openness, curiosity, and initiative.

The organizers feel that as a result of the European Capital of Culture programme, a real cultural leap could take place in Pécs, therefore it is the programme??s mission to revive the joy of community life as opposed to a static event- and festival-focused culture, so that culture in Pécs may mean first of all a form of community life, a common experience for its citizens and for its visitors.