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Cities of Literature
UNESCO Creative Cities Network



What are UNESCO Cities of Literature?

The UNESCO Cities of Literature are a global network of cities which specialise in literature.

The UNESCO designation ‘City of Literature’ recognises excellence and places an obligation on cities to nurture and support their artform and collaborate internationally by sharing best practice, supporting freedom of speech and through projects which ensure literature reaches as wide and diverse an audience as possible, locally and internationally.


The UNESCO Cities of Literature network of 28 cities represents 6 continents and 23 countries.

The network brings together over 1000 libraries, 70 literary festivals and over 900 bookshops. The world’s oldest book, the world’s tallest monument to a writer, the world’s first Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing programme, the oldest university in central Europe, and the only train station named after a book, can all found in these cities.


Reading for pleasure is the single most important thing that will make a child successful in life.




Click on a city to read more about it


The Cities of Literature are part of a wider UNESCO Creative Cities Network currently made up of 180 UNESCO Creative Cities globally.

Members come from 73 countries across six continents and cover seven creative fields: Crafts & Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts.

The designations are monitored and reviewed every four years by UNESCO. To meet the criteria, each city makes a commitment to developing a shared network strategy, fostering the exchange of information, encouraging global partnerships and promoting creativity and culture.

Edinburgh was designated the first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004.

They pioneered the designation ‘City of Literature’, helped draft the criteria and took on the responsibility for the future development and sharing of literary culture across the globe. They forged links and partnerships with great literature cities of the world and guided them through the bidding process. They now share the accolade with cities from across six continents.