The ancient Greek city of Eleusis or Elefsina is preparing to kick off festivities to mark its declaration as the 2023 Culture Capital of Europe along with the cities of Timișoara in Romania and Veszprém-Balaton in Hungary.
Elefsina, known in ancient Greece as Eleusis, has a population of twenty-five thousand and is situated about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) west of Athens. It is the smallest and oldest city in the history of the program developed in 1985 which has, to date, been awarded to more than sixty cities across the European Union (EU) and beyond.
In Elefsina, the birthplace of the great ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus, 465 events will take place in thirty different locations. The program for the year—entitled “Mysteries of Transition”—will bring together 192 Greek and 137 international artists in seventeen different disciplines. The concept is built on three thematic pillars: people, society, and environment and work.
Thousands of years ago, people came to Eleusis, hoping to gain insight into the mystery of death with the help of the Eleusinian Mysteries.
The ancient festival was celebrated in honor of the goddess Demeter and her daughter, Persephone, and was regarded as the most sacred of all the mysteries in the Ancient Greek religion.
Ancient Greeks partook in the festival each year from around 1600 BC to 392 CE, and it took nearly a whole year to prepare for the secretive rites.
Based on the little that is known about the ritual, experts believe that participants would walk along the Sacred Way in a parade that lasted ten days until they reached the Temple of Demeter in Eleusis, where they would take a sip of a sacred drink called Kykeon after days of abstaining from food.
Once the substance had been drunk, participants would dance ecstatically and re-enact the story of Demeter and Persephone.
Industrialization transformed Elefsina
Elefsina was transformed from the 19th century onwards into the productive engine of Greece and one of its largest industrial centers. Signs of industrialization are prominent throughout the city.
However, this was also a curse because the oil refineries, cement factories, and other industries that were built right up until the 1990s brought more than just employment and prosperity.
Elefsina hopes that being a European Capital of Culture 2023 will bring prosperity to the city. They also hope it will bring many visitors from all over the world.
The opening ceremony for Elesina, the European Capital of Culture
The Opening Ceremony will be held on February 4th and marks the official start of the overall artistic program of the 2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture.
This will be a celebration open to all, which will take place on Saturday, February 4, 2023, at 7 pm local time on the city’s seafront. The central event, “Mystery_0 Mysteries of Transition,” is according to the conception of General Artistic Director Michail Marmarinos, and it will be directed by distinguished British director Chris Baldwin.
The grand stage of the opening ceremony will be the sea itself, a personal and universal narrative, as well as the music itself holding together the events and revealing the “Mystery_0 Mysteries of Transition.”
The celebrations will begin with the arrival of four large processions on land and sea and will be arriving from four distinct points from Europe, Attica, and the city of Eleusis itself. This will comprise the first part of the opening ceremony. The fifth informal procession is also the arrival of all visitors and invitees to the grand event of the opening ceremony.
From morning until late at night, the city of Elefsina will celebrate according to a rich program of exhibitions, concerts, parties, and a multitude of parallel events throughout the city. Additional events will take place on Sunday, February 5th. More details will be announced soon.