City of Literature

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UNESCO's City of Literature programme is part of the wider Creative Cities Network.

The Network was launched in 2004, and now has member cities in seven creative fields. The other creative fields are: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Media Arts, and Music.[1]

Criteria for Cities of Literature[edit]

To be approved as a City of Literature, cities need to meet a number of criteria set by UNESCO.[2]

Designated UNESCO Cities of Literature share similar characteristics:

  • Quality, quantity, and diversity of publishing in the city
  • Quality and quantity of educational programmes focusing on domestic or foreign literature at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels
  • Literature, drama, and/or poetry playing an important role in the city
  • Hosting literary events and festivals, which promote domestic and foreign literature
  • Existence of libraries, bookstores, and public or private cultural centres, which preserve, promote, and disseminate domestic and foreign literature
  • Involvement by the publishing sector in translating literary works from diverse national languages and foreign literature
  • Active involvement of traditional and new media in promoting literature and strengthening the market for literary products

Cities submit bids to UNESCO to be designated a City of Literature. The designations are monitored and reviewed every four years by UNESCO.

About the cities[edit]

In 2004, Edinburgh became the first literary city. It hosts the annual International Book Festival and has its own poet laureate—the Makar.[3][4]

Ljubljana runs their Library Under the Treetops at various locations across the city, including Tivoli City Park and Zvezda Park. These sites offer a selection of book genres and several domestic and foreign newspapers and magazines.[5][6]

Manchester is home to the "world-class" Central Library and the "historic gems" of The Portico, John Rylands, and Chetham's.[7]

Melbourne's "vibrant literary scene" includes over 300 bookshops, Victoria State Library among many other libraries, a base for Penguin Random House and for Lonely Planet, the Wheeler Centre, and the Melbourne Writers' Festival.[8][9][10]

Prague's "great intellectual and creative resources," includes the book design, illustration, typography, and graphic design fields. It also has the National Library of the Czech Republic among over 200 libraries, one of Europe's highest concentrations of bookshops, and the Prague Writers' Festival.[11][12]

Libraries in other literary cities, include: Braidense National Library in Milan, Heidelberg University Library, and the National Library of Ireland in Dublin.[13][14][15]

Dunedin is the "Edinburgh of the South", and home to New Zealand's oldest university. Durban is "fun-loving."[16][17]

Montevideo is a "vibrant, eclectic place" and Québec City is a "gorgeous, seductive place."[18][19]

Cities of Literature[edit]

There are forty two Cities of Literature, spanning twenty-eight countries and six continents.

Twenty-four of the represented cities are European, seven are Asian, and three are North American. Oceania and South America is represented by two cities each, while Africa is to have one designated city.

Aracataca train station, in Colombia, one of the literary settings of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez´s novel.

Eight countries have two designated cities, while the UK has five.

The Cities of Literature are:

City Country Year of inscription
Angoulême  France 2019[20]
Baghdad  Iraq 2015[21]
Barcelona  Spain 2015[22]
Beirut  Lebanon 2019[23]
Bucheon  Korea Republic 2017[24]
Dublin  Ireland 2010[25]
Dunedin  New Zealand 2014[26]
Durban  South Africa 2017[27]
Edinburgh  United Kingdom 2004[28]
Exeter  United Kingdom 2019[29][30]
Gothenburg  Sweden 2021[31]
Granada  Spain 2014[32]
Heidelberg  Germany 2014[33]
Iowa City  United States 2008[34]
Jakarta  Indonesia 2021[35]
Kraków  Poland 2013[36]
Kuhmo  Finland 2019[37]
Lahore  Pakistan 2019[38]
Leeuwarden  Netherlands 2019[39]
Lillehammer  Norway 2017[40]
Ljubljana  Slovenia 2015[41]
Lviv  Ukraine 2015[42]
Manchester  United Kingdom 2017[43]
Melbourne  Australia 2008[44]
Milan  Italy 2017[45]
Montevideo  Uruguay 2015[46]
Nanjing  China 2019[47]
Norwich  United Kingdom 2012[48]
Nottingham  United Kingdom 2015[49]
Óbidos  Portugal 2015[50]
Odesa  Ukraine 2019[51]
Prague  Czech Republic 2014[52]
Québec City  Canada 2017[53]
Reykjavík  Iceland 2011[54]
Seattle  United States 2017[55]
Slemani  Iraq 2019[56]
Tartu  Estonia 2015[57]
Ulyanovsk  Russia 2015[58]
Utrecht  Netherlands 2017[59]
Vilnius  Lithuania 2021[60]
Wonju  South Korea 2019[61]
Wrocław  Poland 2019[62]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "64 Cities Join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network".
  2. ^ Do you have what it takes to be a City of Literature?
  3. ^ "Edinburgh Crowned the Capital of Literature".
  4. ^ "Edinburgh".
  5. ^ "Ljubljana".
  6. ^ "Library Under the Treetops".
  7. ^ "Manchester Named as a UNESCO City of Literature".
  8. ^ "Melbourne".
  9. ^ "Penguin Random House".
  10. ^ "Lonely Planet".
  11. ^ "Prague".
  12. ^ "Prague".
  13. ^ "Ten Stunning Italian Libraries".
  14. ^ "Eight Most Beautiful Libraries in Germany".
  15. ^ "Five Libraries in Dublin Every Bibliophile Should Visit".
  16. ^ "Dunedin".
  17. ^ "Durban".
  18. ^ "Montevideo".
  19. ^ "Québec City".
  20. ^ "Angoulême".
  21. ^ "Baghdad".
  22. ^ "Barcelona".
  23. ^ "Beirut".
  24. ^ "Bucheon".
  25. ^ "Dublin".
  26. ^ "Dunedin".
  27. ^ "Durban".
  28. ^ "Edinburgh".
  29. ^ "Exeter".
  30. ^ "Exeter".
  31. ^ "Gothenburg".
  32. ^ "Granada".
  33. ^ "Heidelberg".
  34. ^ "Iowa City".
  35. ^ "Jakarta".
  36. ^ "Kraków".
  37. ^ "Kuhmo".
  38. ^ "Lahore".
  39. ^ "Leeuwarden".
  40. ^ "Lillehammer".
  41. ^ "Ljubljana".
  42. ^ "Lviv".
  43. ^ "Manchester".
  44. ^ "Melbourne".
  45. ^ "Milan".
  46. ^ "Montevideo".
  47. ^ "Nanjing".
  48. ^ "Norwich".
  49. ^ "Nottingham".
  50. ^ "Óbidos".
  51. ^ "Odessa".
  52. ^ "Prague".
  53. ^ "Québec City".
  54. ^ "Reykjavík".
  55. ^ "Seattle".
  56. ^ "Slemani".
  57. ^ "Tartu".
  58. ^ "Ulyanovsk".
  59. ^ "Utrecht".
  60. ^ "Vilnius".
  61. ^ "Wonju".
  62. ^ "Wrocław".

External links[edit]