The medieval Portuguese city of Guimarães has been celebrating the fact that the European Union declared it a European Capital of Culture for 2012, and has staged numerous events to commemorate the award. The title came at a time when Portugal is still struggling with its debts, and is facing some the toughest times it has faced in recent history.
In spite of this Guimarães has been able to put on a good show, thanks to European subsidies, which is just as well as money for cultural events has been cut by 30% this year, and the Culture Ministry has been downgraded to the rank of secretariat.
The heart shaped logo designed specifically for the award is on display in just about every shop in the city of Guimarães, and momentum has gradually built up over the year as more people began to realise that the project could help rejuvenate the local economy, and was about far more than just entertainment. With the money given from the award the city has been able to revitalise several neighbourhoods and areas of the city that would have otherwise remained derelict.
These projects include a cultural centre in a previously disused textile factory. Guimarães is very much a traditional Portuguese city, and has an interesting historic centre reminding visitors of just why so many people are interested in buying property here. Portugal is a country that has something for everyone, and these types of awards given to cities such as Guimarães are a reminder that there is much more to the country than merely sun, sea and sand, and that history and heritage are priceless.