The Unseen Capital of Culture 2025

By Emelie Teumer


A multitude of countries with different cultures and regional characteristics - and yet one Europe. European values unite us and create a European way of life.

Promoting the European way of life is one of the most important legislative proposals of the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission. This includes upholding the rule of law, combating all forms of discrimination, and Europe's cultural diversity. Stand Up For Europe follows these Key Legislative Proposals in many activities and projects.

Whether it is breathtaking architecture, stirring music or amazing works of art, unique cultural experiences can be found in every country. Promoting and enabling togetherness is supported by a number of European Union initiatives, such as the European Capital of Culture.



The European Capital of Culture


Since 1985, several cities have been selected each year to celebrate European culture, strengthen citizens' sense of belonging and make an important contribution to development.

To apply, a proposal must be submitted to the respective Ministry of Culture six years in advance. A jury deliberates on the basis of a list of criteria and passes on a shortlist. Here, the cities must submit a more detailed application. In a second round, these are evaluated and one city per host country is recommended by the jury. This city is then officially designated as the European Capital of Culture four years before the title year. During this lead-up period, the cities and surrounding regions prepare intensively. Planning, preparation and a long-term cultural strategy must be implemented. A relevant component is the intensive involvement of citizens through regional projects. The key values of the project are openness, voluntariness, tradition and innovation.


In 2023, the following cities are the host cities of the Capital of Culture:


A city in Europe becomes a European city

Being the European Capital of Culture "is not a state, it is a process." In 2025, a small city in Saxony, Germany, will have the privilege to hold this title. Chemnitz, a city in eastern Germany, was known during the GDR era as Karl-Marx-Stadt because of the monument in the centre of the city.

Chemnitz and the surrounding region are usually overshadowed by the neighbouring cities of Dresden and Leipzig. The project allows for greater attention and the possibility of self-determined visibility. By being awarded the title of European Capital of Culture, cities can also put themselves in the public eye and show everyday life, independent of the recommendations of travel guides. Cities and regions that struggle with prejudices, supposed unattractiveness and young people moving away are given more opportunities now. They are invisible, unloved and unseen - yet they are also the places that are home to many people.
"C the unseen" is the motto of Chemnitz as Capital of Culture 2025 - the middle of
Society, the unseen regions, places, biographies, talents or cities are in focus.

With a distance of 3 hours to Berlin and Prague, situated at the gates of the Ore Mountains, a mountainous region that reaches all the way to the Czech Republic, Chemnitz is at a promising starting point for transnational relations. In cross-border cooperation with the neighbouring countries of the Czech Republic and Poland, this idea becomes a reality in the project.

Chemnitz - "The City of Modernity”

Due to the industrial revolution, Chemnitz became known as "Saxon Manchester." In the following century, it grew continuously and many industrial companies settled there. During the Second World War, the city was heavily destroyed and rebuilt in the communist style in the following GDR era - “prefabricated slab buildings, parade streets and the Karl Marx Monument” still characterise the face of the city today.

Incidents in 2018 put the city's democratic cohesion to the test, and since then a variety of events have strengthened the defence and relevance of these values.
Today Chemnitz is a place of living subculture. While art culture is overflowing in the surrounding cities like Dresden, Leipzig or Berlin, artists with plenty of space can bring their ideas to life here. One of these is KOSMOS: a festival for democracy with exhibitions, music and interactive formats for participation. As part of the Capital of Culture, KOSMOS Chemnitz is to become KOSMOS Europe. Many other events will be integrated into the area of the region.

For a few years, Chemnitz was the location of the Kosmonautfestival, as well as the Splash! Festival and attracted many young people.
Today, some successful German musicians that come from Chemnitz use their music to deal critically and ironically with growing up and living in the region:

  • Kummer - 9010
    As frontman of the well-known band Kraftklub, who themselves also deal with their Chemnitz roots in many songs, released a solo album in 2019. The first single, "9010", is about growing up in a city where he was repeatedly confronted with right-wing violence. 9010 is the old postcode of what was then Karl-Marx-Stadt.

  • Trettmann - Grauer Beton
    Published in 2017, it deals with life in the Heckert area (a large prefabricated housing estate in Chemnitz) during the GDR era and at the beginning of the 1990s shortly after reunification. Feelings of hopelessness and disillusionment characterise this time.

The invisible regions are far from the known, the middle of society, the small projects with big themes - that is Europe too- and the chance to become visible through opportunities like the European Capital of Culture. 

I myself grew up in a small town in the Ore Mountains not far from Chemnitz. Characterised by hilly countryside, a wide view and a very special Christmas season with the smell of smoked candles and lights in every window. When I moved away, I realised that the region is perceived differently by the public. The individual experiences of reunification and the GDR past have left their mark - many things have been restored and renewed, but there are also anti-democratic movements and opinions. In the perceived public, it is often only the last that represents the reality of the region for the masses. This annoys me, concerns me and hurts me. I have never felt particularly connected to the mining tradition and always wanted to go to the big city, yet it is my home and I know many people who are not anti-democratic and who do not vote for that one party. That's why I admire all these people who oppose this, who build initiatives and show a different cosmopolitan image.
The fact that Chemnitz is allowed to be the Capital of Culture 2025 is an enormous opportunity, so that the silent majority, which is democratic, cosmopolitan and warm-hearted, finally gets a proper stage. I sincerely hope that this will lead to an upswing, that more young people will move there, that new things will emerge and that the public narrative will open up. Chemnitz and the region can finally be seen in a new light.


Here you can find the website of Chemnitz 2025:


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