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Portugal 2027, A journey among the 12 candidate cities: Leiria

Leiria, Territorial Identity – Visual Imaginary of the Region Leiria, Territorial Identity – Visual Imaginary of the Region

Leiria was, if not the first, one of the first Portuguese cities to state - long ago on 22nd may of 2015 - the intention to present an application to European Capital of Culture 2027. It was also one of the first to, right after the first pandemic wave, reiterate this intention.

Leiria is the 4rd largest city in that same region, with a municipality population of 128,640 (as of 2021) in an area of 565.09 square kilometres. It is the seat of its own district and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leiria-Fátima. The city is part of the historical province of Beira Litoral.

They are a cultural network of 26 very different municipalities, led by Leiria, enlisting almost 10% of the population and territory of Portugal mainland. Long as 180km point to point, Rede Cultura 2027 includes 3 Intermunicipal Consortia, 3 World Heritage Sites, 3 UNESCO Creative Cities and 3 UNESCO Learning Cities, as well as 2 UNESCO Chairs.

Together, and for 3 years now, they have been building a renewed notion of city, based on a network that sews a broad and medium density territory through something they have never thought together: culture both as common ground and shared home, looking at Europe as both origin and destiny.

What is the title of your first bidbook? 

“Curate the Commons” is the title and the soul of our bid book. It translates our work in progress and our ambition in process that believes and proves that the use the tools provided by the ideas and the practices of Culture, Europe and City are the most cohesive, coherent and efficient way to heal, to choose and to care the material and imaterial cement that builds or that can enlarge our common patrimony, our common history, our common ground, each of our commons that shape our communities.

How are you involving citizens in this journey? 

Leiria was the first Portuguese city to declare, in 2015, the intent to assume a candidacy to become ECoC in 2027. From this date on and until now, as well as for the foreseeable future, Leiria develops a cultural work that is, in fact, a culture network. This network enlarges on a very broader scope and scale the cultural network made within the municipality’s limits with its cultural agents, associations, venues and artists, also putting in the same process of dialogue the education and economic institutions of the city. This way of conceiving culture lived by and in Leiria was the best way to foster a culture dynamic build in a bottom-up process is the base of our candidacy to European Capital of Culture 2027.

What objectives do you intend to achieve?

Our candidacy has a nature that shapes its identity: to be (not to become, because we already exist and live as such) a network of 26 municipalities, 2 higher education institutions, one commercial chamber and one diocese that first came together through culture and that empower our territory and our citizens by a common desire, effort and experience to read, write, think, feel, create, perform, watch, participate and engage in European culture as our own nature and identity, therefore embodying a vision that conceives culture as the common home and the idea of Europa as destiny.



Serafino Paternoster

Ecocnews Founder, Journalist, repentant jazz guitarist, music critic and film lover.

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