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    European Capital of Culture 2010

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    In one calender year, a city is chosen to showcase it's cultural life and development. The candidate is selected by the European Union and this gives the city a chance to transform itself into something truly amazing. It was created by Melina Mercouri in 1983 who used to be the Greek Minister of Culture and it finally launched in 1985 giving Athens the first title holder.

    This year there are 3 cities that have been given the title and the chance to show off their culture. This was because the EU grew from 15 to 24 states in 2004, so they have decided that as of 2009, more cities will be chosen, combining the old and new. Lets take a look at the winners of this year and see what they have to offer.

    Essen Coal Mine Essen, Germany

    Located in Germany's Ruhr Region, this town transformed from a mining town to a service industry centre. The city's motto is 'Change through culture -- Culture through change.' Archaeologists have suggested that there are remains from over 2000 years ago within the city, which is very exciting for the historians out there. There are so many beautiful historic attractions in Essen such as The Zeche Zollverein which used to be a coal mine production site, now stands as artists studios, offices and workshop. Today, it is a World Heritage Site.

    If you choose to hire a car in Essen you can also enjoy Essen Cathedral and Treasury which dates back to 845 and 870. The church had actually burnt down in 1275 but some remains were saved. It houses the most precious exhibit, The Golden Madonna of Essen, made around 980 and is the oldest known sculpture of Madonna in the world and the oldest free standing sculpture North of the Alps. Also located here is the Emperor Otto III seven branched Christian candelabrum as well as many other artefacts from Ottonian times.

    These are just some of the great things to see in Essen, during its time as the European Capital of Culture, I am sure it's going to have many festivals and celebrations within the city centre. Why not stay a little outside the city so you can take in some of the more quieter cities around, and hire a car so you have the freedom to do everything you want to.

    Turkish Mosque Istanbul, Turkey

    Being the largest city in Turkey it is the cultural and financial centre of the country. The city's motto is 'Our energy is from Istanbul'. Istanbul has actually been the capital for Roman Empire between 330 - 395, Eastern Roman Empire from 395 - 1204 and 1261 - 1453, The Latin Empire 1204 - 1261 and the Ottoman Empire 1453 - 1922. All the historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1985. With such a rich history, how can it not be the European Capital of Culture?

    There are many attractions to see if you pick up a car hire in Istanbul, you can enjoy so much here such as Maiden's Tower, one of the beautiful symbols of the city that was originally built in 408 BC. Also visit the Column of Constantine which was erected in dedication to the new city of the Roman Empire. There are so many more including Hippodrome of Constantinople, Great Palace of Constantinople, the Column of Marcian and the Hagia Sophia which was the largest ever cathedral in the world for over a thousand years until the cathedral in Seville was completed to name just a few.

    Hungarian Bisilica Pecs, HungaryThis is the fifth largest city in Hungary, the last of our capital's of culture, their motto is 'The Borderless City'. Pecs has been inhabited since the ancient times with findings that date back to over 6000 years ago. When the Roman Empire reigned, they found several wine producing colonies. There are Christian cemeteries dating back to the 4th century which are worth a visit as they are now under the World Heritage List. Hungary conquered Pecs in the late 9th century early 10th century and since then it has been part of this beautiful country.

    There is so much history to be enjoyed here, you just have to get a car rental in Hungary and enjoy sights such as the Baranya Castle which was the capital when Hungary conquered. The cathedral here was built in the 11th century after the previous one burnt down, you can find the first university of Pecs here also, founded in 1367. There are also some great mosques in Hungary, such as the Mosque of Gazi Kaszim Pasa which is in the main square. This mosque is actually a church but the crescent moon remains on top of the cupola. There are also ruins of Turkish Baths and the Mausoleum.There are so many more for you to enjoy as well. Why not think about picking up a car hire so you can enjoy these sights at your leisure.

    The 3 Capital's of Culture are a must see this year. There will be festivals, parties, concerts and all sorts going on, so why not have a think of going somewhere different for your holidays this year!

    Have you been to any of these 3 cities? What did you think of them? Tell us about your experiences!

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