Already boasting an imperial history, the Austrian town of Bad Ischl has been selected as European Capital of Culture in 2024. The selection was announced on Tuesday, 12th of November. Earlier picks for the Capitals of Culture in 2024 are Tartu in Estonia and Bodø in Norway. In 2024, there will be a total of three European Capitals of Culture.
Bad Ischl is a spa town with a population of approximately 15 000. It campaigned for the ECoC title as the Salzkammergut region. Much like Tampere’s bid for the title, which includes 20 municipalities from Tampere region, the Austrians’ bid included a total of 21 municipalities from the Salzkammergut region.
Salzkammergut is an Austrian resort area stretching from Salzburg to the Dachstein Mountains. Most of the alpine region was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The area mainly lives off tourism, and it is one of the most advanced tourist regions of Austria.
The theme of the region’s bid was “Salt and Water as DNA.” The aim was to rejuvenate the region’s cultural life with the necessary pinch of salt and the power of water. Another goal is to develop the area’s tourism industry towards a more sustainable direction.
Bad Ischl is rife with history, being the site of the Kaiservilla, the summer residence of Emperor Franz Joseph I. Also, the famous Sissi films, romantically depicting Empress Elisabeth in her youth, were shot in the area.
Already during pre-selection, the selecting panel noted Salzkammergut’s regional cultural strategy. Salzkammergut drafted a joint cultural strategy of more than 20 municipalities, including a decentralized network of cultural institutions. The panel suggested that this strategy might serve as a potential model for other rural areas with smaller urban centres.
The budget of Salzkammergut’s European Capital of Culture year is estimated to be up to 30 million euros.
The project web site can be found here.
The Kaiservilla of Bad Ischl.