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Greek City of Eleusis Named Europe’s New Culture Capital

Ancient Greek city of Eleusis, Elefsina ruins of the greater ptopylea, Greece
Greek City of Eleusis Designated New EU Capital of Culture. The Greater Propylaea of Eleusis. Credit: Carole Raddato / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Eleusis has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2023, making it the fourth Greek city in a row to host the institution.

Attica’s treasures already attract thousands of visitors, including a high volume of artists from all over Europe, and an even greater number of visitors is expected in 2023.

Eleusis is also one of the five holy cities of antiquity. It possess rare archaeological wealth. In fact, the Archaeological Museum of Eleusis is being renovated to house the city’s notable monumental stock, ensuring a unique experience for visitors.

The city is a pole of attraction for those who love archaeology and also photography due to its industrial heritage.

Eleusis European Capital of Culture

In attaining the title of European Capital of Culture for 2023, Eleusis has become the fourth Greek city in a row to host the institution. 

Drawing inspiration from the city’s rich history, the “Transcendental Mysteries” program has been designed as an integrated artistic, research, and educational program to showcase Eleusis’ culture. Renowned director, Michael Marmarinos, is the head of artistic direction. 

As reported by state news agency APE-MPE, Despina Geroulanou, president of the board of directors of Eleusis 2023 European Capital of Culture said, “The Cultural Capital of Europe institution can act as a bridge between the city’s industrial tradition and art, highlighting culture at the center of local development in a new era for the city and its people.”

“Our goal is for Eleusis to emerge as a multi-faceted cultural center with international characteristics, creating a new tourist destination and a sustainable heritage,” Geroulanou emphasized.

The report added that, according to the Mayor of Eleusis, Argyris Oikonomou, this is a significant opportunity for the city as well as Greece as a whole to showcase its tourist treasures. There is organized effort in upgrading the overall tourist product by focusing on the identity of Eleusis. Its creation will be based on the region’s rich historical and cultural trajectory.

Eleusis, an Important Ancient Greek Religious Site

Eleusis, the site of the eponymous Eleusinian Mysteries, was the center of worship for the goddess Demeter and her daughter, Persephone, who returned to the underworld annually each autumn.

The mysteries celebrated in honor of these goddesses were regarded as the most sacred of all the the mysteries in the Ancient Greek religion through the centuries until the fall of paganism. Those who participated had to take an oath not to reveal what they were seeing, one of those being Plato.

Located about eighteen kilometers (eleven miles) northwest of the center of Athens, it is part of the metropolitan area of the Greek capital.

Eleusis, situated opposite the island of Salamis, possessed three major natural advantages for its settlement. It was on the road from Athens to the Isthmus of Corinth on a very fertile plain at the head of an extensive bay, formed on three sides by the coast of Attica and enclosed on the south by Salamis.

Once a year, those taking part in the great Eleusinian procession traveled from Athens to Eleusis along the Sacred Way.

The area which figured so prominently in Greek mythology and ritual was also the birthplace of the great playwright Aeschylus. Today, Eleusis is home of the Aeschylia Festival, the longest-tenured arts event in the Attica region.

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