The European Capital of Culture is a city named by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which it can display its culture and cultural development to the world. Being a cultural capital transforms that city and its cultural infrastructure in the good way, becoming an attraction destination for visitors and taking its socio-economic development into an upper level.
The project was started in 1985 with Athens being the first title-holder and since then many European cities have been named with this title. The idea of this program was promoting European cultures within the member states of the European Union. After 1999, the European Capital of Culture project was enlarged as to include non-member countries too. Then, a group of civil society members and NGO's in Turkey have started a long process and lobbying and finally in 2006 Istanbul was found ready for being the European Capital of Culture in 2010. The final decision by the European Union was announced on the 13th of November 2006, making Istanbul the title-holder for 2010, together with Pecs in Hungary and Essen in Germany.
The Istanbul 2010 project was led by the Turkish Foreign Ministry and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Istanbul Governorship, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, and coordinated by the Istanbul 2010 Agency. During 2010, many local and international artists and cultural groups were guests of Istanbul for cultural events, exhibitions, concerts, visual arts, and so on.