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City of Literature

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The Portico Library in Manchester
The State Library Victoria in Melbourne

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]


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]

Heidelberg University Library
Braidense National Library in Milan

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]

Manchester is home to the "world-class" Central Library and the "historic gems" of The Portico, John Rylands, and Chetham's.[6]

Melbourne's is home to Australia's oldest public library State Library of Victoria, the Centre of Books, Writing and Ideas The Wheeler Centre and was home to the world's biggest book shop Cole's Book Arcade, opened at the turn of the twentieth century.

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.[7]

Libraries in other literary cities, include: Braidense National Library in Milan, Heidelberg University Library, and the National Library of Ireland in Dublin.[8][9][10]

Dunedin is the "Edinburgh of the South", and home to New Zealand's oldest university. Durban is "fun-loving."[11][12]

Montevideo is a "vibrant, eclectic place" and Québec City is a "gorgeous, seductive place."[13][14]

Cities of Literature[edit]

The National Library in Prague
The National Library in Dublin
John Rylands Library in Manchester
Aracataca train station, in Colombia, is one of the settings of a Gabriel García Márquez novel.

There are fifty-three Cities of Literature, spanning thirty-nine 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.

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

The Cities of Literature are:

City Country Year of inscription
Angoulême  France 2019[15]
Baghdad  Iraq 2015[16]
Barcelona  Spain 2015[17]
Beirut  Lebanon 2019[15]
Bremen  Germany 2023[18]
Bucheon  Korea Republic 2017[19]
Buffalo City  South Africa 2023[18]
Dublin  Ireland 2010[20]
Dunedin  New Zealand 2014[21]
Durban  South Africa 2017[22]
Edinburgh  United Kingdom 2004[4]
Exeter  United Kingdom 2019[23][24][15]
Gothenburg  Sweden 2021[25]
Granada  Spain 2014[26]
Heidelberg  Germany 2014[27]
Hobart  Australia 2023[18]
Iași  Romania 2023[18]
Iowa City  United States 2008[28]
Jakarta  Indonesia 2021[25]
Kozhikode  India 2023[18]
Kraków  Poland 2013[29]
Kuhmo  Finland 2019[15]
Kutaisi  Georgia 2023[18]
Lahore  Pakistan 2019[15]
Leeuwarden  Netherlands 2019[30]
Lillehammer  Norway 2017[31]
Ljubljana  Slovenia 2015[32]
Lviv  Ukraine 2015[33]
Lyon  France 2023[18]
Manchester  United Kingdom 2017[34]
Melbourne  Australia 2008[35]
Milan  Italy 2017[36]
Montevideo  Uruguay 2015[37]
Nanjing  China 2019[15]
Norwich  United Kingdom 2012[38]
Nottingham  United Kingdom 2015[39]
Óbidos  Portugal 2015[40]
Odesa  Ukraine 2019[41]
Okayama  Japan 2023[18]
Prague  Czech Republic 2014[7]
Québec City  Canada 2017[42]
Reykjavík  Iceland 2011[43]
Rio de Janeiro  Brazil 2023[18]
Seattle  United States 2017[44]
Sulaymaniyah  Iraq 2019[15]
Taif  Saudi Arabia 2023[18]
Tartu  Estonia 2015[45]
Tukums  Latvia 2023[18]
Ulyanovsk  Russia 2015[46]
Utrecht  Netherlands 2017[47]
Vilnius  Lithuania 2021[48]
Wonju  South Korea 2019[15]
Wrocław  Poland 2019[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "UNESCO Creative Cities Network".
  2. ^ Do you have what it takes to be a City of Literature?
  3. ^ "Edinburgh Crowned the Capital of Literature". TheGuardian.com.
  4. ^ a b "Edinburgh".
  5. ^ "Knjižnica pod krošnjami". Knjižnica pod krošnjami.
  6. ^ University, Manchester Metropolitan. "Story, Manchester Metropolitan University". Manchester Metropolitan University.
  7. ^ a b "Prague".
  8. ^ "Ten Stunning Italian Libraries".
  9. ^ "8 Most Beautiful Libraries In Germany". Culture Trip. 27 May 2016.
  10. ^ "5 Libraries In Dublin Every Bibliophile Should Visit". Culture Trip. 20 October 2015.
  11. ^ "Dunedin travel". Lonely Planet.
  12. ^ "Durban travel". Lonely Planet.
  13. ^ "Montevideo travel". Lonely Planet.
  14. ^ "Québec City travel". Lonely Planet.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i "UNESCO designates 66 new Creative Cities".
  16. ^ "Baghdad".
  17. ^ "Barcelona".
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "55 new cities join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network on World Cities Day". Retrieved 31 October 2023.
  19. ^ "Bucheon".
  20. ^ "Dublin".
  21. ^ "Dunedin".
  22. ^ "Durban".
  23. ^ "Exeter - only UK city to be awarded UNESCO City of Literature status". news.exeter.gov.uk.
  24. ^ "Exeter Unesco".
  25. ^ a b "49 new cities join UNESCO's Creative Cities Network". Cities of Design Network. 11 November 2021.
  26. ^ "Granada". unesco.org.
  27. ^ "Heidelberg". unesco.org.
  28. ^ "Iowa City". unesco.org.
  29. ^ "Kraków". unesco.org.
  30. ^ "Leeuwarden". unesco.org.
  31. ^ "Lillehammer". unesco.org.
  32. ^ "Ljubljana". unesco.org.
  33. ^ "Lviv". unesco.org.
  34. ^ "Manchester". unesco.org.
  35. ^ "Melbourne". unesco.org.
  36. ^ "Milan". unesco.org.
  37. ^ "Montevideo". unesco.org.
  38. ^ "Norwich". unesco.org.
  39. ^ "Nottingham". unesco.org.
  40. ^ "Óbidos". unesco.org.
  41. ^ "Odesa". unesco.org.
  42. ^ "Québec City". unesco.org.
  43. ^ "Reykjavík". unesco.org.
  44. ^ "Seattle". unesco.org.
  45. ^ "Tartu". unesco.org.
  46. ^ "Ulyanovsk". unesco.org.
  47. ^ "Utrecht". unesco.org.
  48. ^ "Vilnius". unesco.org.

External links[edit]