UNESCO Cities of Literature

The Creative Cities Network programme run by UNESCO aims at highlighting the achievements and aspirations of urban centres that want to share their ideas, experience, and best practices for sustainable cultural, social, and economic development. Cities may implement these ideas in various areas of creative activity, including literature, film, music, craft and folk arts, design, media arts, and gastronomy.

The UNESCO Cities of Literature work together on creating a global partnership and literary connections between cities and countries. Each of the cities also carries out its local programme.

The first city to become a UNESCO City of Literature was Edinburgh, which received the title in 2004 in recognition of its literary heritage, vibrant present, and ambitious plans for the future. In 2008, UNESCO announced another two Cities of Literature: Melbourne and Iowa City. In 2010, Dublin joined the network, a year later – it was Reykjavik, and in 2012, Norwich was added to the list.

Krakow began its efforts to become a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010. Works on the application integrated the diverse literary circles of the city and led to the creation of a common strategy of development. The application was submitted to UNESCO towards the end of 2011 by Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of the City of Krakow.

In preparation for the title of a UNESCO City of Literature, Krakow remained active in building international cooperation and ties with the wider literary community. An important initiative in this process was the “Creative Cities and Regions. Challenges for Cooperation between the Cities of Literature” Conference organised in Krakow on 26-27 October 2012. Thanks to this event, representatives of the UNESCO Cities of Literature and the cities applying for this title, as well as major Central European literary centres, met for the first time. They included representatives of: Edinburgh, Dublin, Norwich, Iowa City, Melbourne, Reykjavik, Naples, Prague, Lviv, Brussels, Bratislava, Budapest, Vilnius, Tartu, Stavanger, Jaipur, Vancouver, and Madrid. The conference identified the most important challenges faced by the cities and helped plan common development strategies.

Central Library

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Having become a UNESCO City of Literature in 2004, Edinburgh was the very first city to join the programme....

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Melbourne

Melbourne

Melbourne Although it is Australia’s second-largest city after Sydney, Melbourne is arguably the nation’s cultural capital. This rich cultural life,...

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Iowa City Book Festival

Iowa City

In 2008, Iowa City became the third city to join the UNESCO Cities of Literature programme. This university town’s vibrant...

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Author John Boyne (Boy In The Striped Pyjamas), James Joyce impersonator and The Shannon Colleens for Dubliners as part of the Dublin One City, One Book festival

Dublin

Dublin Like Edinburgh, Dublin has a rich tradition as a centre of English-language literature. The city is the cultural centre...

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Reykjavik

Reykjavik

Reykjavik Because Reykjavik is the only city in Iceland and is home to half the country’s residents, it is naturally...

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Norwich

Norwich

Although with slightly more than 200,000 inhabitants it is not an exceptionally large city, Norwich, England, has a rich literary...

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dunedin-writers (pic. Graham Warman)

Dunedin

Dunedin became a UNESCO City of Literature in December 2014, along with Granada, Heidelberg and Prague. Although it is only...

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Heidelberg_pic. Peter Dorn

Heidelberg

Despite its relatively small population of 150,000, Heidelberg is without a doubt one of Germany’s cultural and academic powerhouses. It...

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Prague City of Lit

Prague

Prague is one of the most prestigious cultural hubs in all of Europe, and in 2000 Prague was one of...

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Federico García Lorca

Granada

The Andalusian city of Granada became a UNESCO City of Literature in 2014, along with Dunedin, Heidelberg and Prague. A...

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Bagdad

Baghdad

Baghdad is one of the largest cities in the Middle East with 7 million residents and is the capital of...

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WORLD BOOK DAY BCN

Barcelona

The second largest city in Spain and 6th in the entire EU, Barcelona is a place with centuries-long tradition –...

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Library under Treetops

Ljubljana

As befits a European capital, Ljubljana offers many cultural attractions. Each year, over ten thousand events connected with art take...

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Lviv Project #1 (c) Taras Gakavchyn (2015)

Lviv

For years Lviv has been known as an important cultural centre and a significant place on the European literary, theatrical...

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Livres Montevideo

Montevideo

The capital of Uruguay is also its largest city, as well as the most important port in the region. The...

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Slab Square Readers @ Nottingham City of Literature

Nottingham

Even though Nottingham is a small city with a population of 270 000, it is known around the world, mostly because...

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Biomarket bookshop (c) Edgar Libório

Óbidos

Óbidos is a small town surrounded by medieval walls, located approx. 80 km from Lisbon. Despite a small area (142.17...

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Reader by the river_Photo by Kerly Ilves

Tartu

The second largest city in Estonia is one of the more dynamically growing cultural centres. Tartu has an extensive heritage,...

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Ulyanovsk State Museum of Local Lore (с) Architectural photo contest “Chaudet – Positive”, Ulyanovsk, 2013

Ulyanovsk

Although the number of residents in Ulyanovsk is less than 600 000, the city has a rich cultural offer, which...

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