Skip to main content

Synergies and Frictions between Mega-events and Local Urban Heritage


Increasingly, cities have turned to mega-events as part of strategies to secure much desired global recognition and attract future economic investment. These events have a broad range of physical effects on the city and can also introduce new concepts of the city. For historic cities, mega-events can potentially have a profound influence on the city’s urban heritage, both physically and how heritage comes to be understood and defined. Recent changing trends in mega-events could come to see them more closely integrated into the existing city fabric, making the potential impact of mega-events on built heritage more pronounced. One long-standing event embedded within the city fabric that serves as a noteworthy example is the European Capital of Culture (ECoC), operating for 30 years and travelling between more than 50 cities. The paper presents the European Capital of Cultures of Genoa 2004, Liverpool 2008 and Istanbul 2010 as three diverse cases with differing themes and roles for heritage in order to review the potential synergy or friction between events and heritage and calls for heritage actors to become more involved in these processes.


  • Alcozer, Federica. 2005. “Il Processo Di Trasformazione Di Una Città Europea.” Urbanistica 57 (126): 78–80.

    Google Scholar 

  • Graham, Brian, Gregory Ashworth, and John Tunbridge. 2007. Pluralising Pasts: Heritage, Identity and Place in Multicultural Societies. London: Pluto Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Basso, Matteo. 2017. Grandi Eventi E Politiche Urbane: Governare “routine Eccezionali” un Confronto Interna-zionale. Milan: Guerini e Associati.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bayraktar, S. Ulas, and Elise Massicard. 2012. “Decentralisation in Turkey.” Agence Française de Développement, Focales: 112.

  • Belger, Tom. 2016. “Demolition of Historic Futurist Cinema in Liverpool Begins: Hours after Campaigners’ Appeal Dismissed.” Liverpool Echo, August 2.

  • Bodo, Carla, and Simona Bodo. 2016. “Country Profile: Italy.” Compendium: Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe.

  • Bonfantini, G. Bertrando. 2015. “Historic Urbanscapes For Tomorrow, Two Italian Cases: Genoa And Bologna.” European Spatial Research and Policy 22 (2): 57–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bonini Baraldi, Sara, and Daniel David Shoup. 2014. “Heritage Management at the Local Level: Rhetoric and Results in the Case of Gaziantep, Turkey.” International Journal of Cultural Policy 20 (5): 588–612.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bonini Baraldi, Sara, Daniel Shoup, and Luca Zan. 2013. “Understanding Cultural Heritage in Turkey: Institutional Context and Organisational Issues.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 19 (7): 728–748.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carbonara, Giovanni. 2001. “Un Bilancio Positivo.” Arkos, Speciale G8, 2 (1): 6–10.

    Google Scholar 

  • Comune di Genova. 1999. “1 Sessione ‘Genova: Città Della Cultura E Del Turismo.’” In Genova: Le Vie Del Mediterraneo All’europa.

  • Comune di Genova. 2000. “Il Piano Operativo per Il Centro Storico.”

  • Comune di Genova. 2015. “Annuario Statistico, Edizione 2015.” Genova.

  • Çorakbaş, Figen Kıvılcım, Asu Aksoy, and Alessandra Ricci. 2014. “A Report of Concern on the Conservation Issues of the Istanbul Land Walls World Heritage Site: With a Special Focus on the Historic Yedikule Vegetable Gardens (Yedikule Bostanları).”

  • Ernst & Young. 2011. “Istanbul 2010: European Capital of Culture Impact Assessment Report.”

  • Fusero, Paolo. 2005. Genoa the Periphery and Historical Centres: Behind the Scenes of the 2004 European Capital of Culture. Pescara: SALA editori.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gabrielli, Bruno. 2005. “Genova, Un Piano Strategico Di Natura Operativa Ei Suoi Esiti.” Urbanistica 126: 57–63.

    Google Scholar 

  • García, Beatriz. 2005. “Deconstructing the City of Culture: The Long-Term Cultural Legacies of Glasgow 1990.” Urban Studies 42 (5): 841–868.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • García, Beatriz, and Tasmin Cox. 2013. “European Capitals of Culture: Success Strategies and Long-Term Effects.” Luxembourg: European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education.

    Google Scholar 

  • García, Beatriz, Ruth Melville, and Tamsin Cox. 2010. “Creating an Impact: Liverpool’s Experience as European Capital of Culture.” Final report of the Impacts 08 programme.

  • Garden, Mary-Catherine E. 2006. “The Heritagescape: Looking at Landscapes of the Past.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 12 (5): 394–411.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gastaldi, Francesco. 2009. “Genova, Dalle Colombiane a Capitale Europea Della Cultura. Grandi Eventi E Pro-cessi Di Rigenerazione Urbana.” Territorio, 110–114.

  • Gastaldi, Francesco. 2016. “Genoa, a Success Story!” In Waterfronts Revisited: European Ports in a Historic and Global Perspective, edited by Heleni Porfyriou and Marichela Sepe, 123–133. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Göktürk, Deniz, Levent Soysal, and Ipek Tureli, eds. 2010. Orienting Istanbul: Cultural Capital of Europe? London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gold, John R, and Margaret M. Gold. 2016. Olympic Cities: City Agendas, Planning, and the World’s Games, 1896–2020. London: Routledge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Gómez, María V. 1998. “Reflective Images: The Case of Urban Regeneration in Glasgow and Bilbao.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 22 (1): 106–121.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Graham, Brian. 2002. “Heritage as Knowledge: Capital or Culture?” Urban Studies 39 (5–6): 1003–1017.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Griffiths, Ron. 2006. “City/Culture Discourses: Evidence from the Competition to Select the European Capital of Culture 2008.” European Planning Studies 14 (4): 415–430.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gunay, Zeynep. 2010. “Conservation versus Regeneration?: Case of European Capital of Culture 2010 Istanbul.” European Planning Studies 18 (8): 1173–1186.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harrison, Rodney. 2013. Heritage: Critical Approaches. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harvey, David C. 2008. “The History of Heritage.” In The Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage and Identity, edited by Brian Graham and Peter Howard, 19–36. Farnham: Ashgate.

    Google Scholar 

  • Horne, John, and Wolfram Manzenreiter. 2006. “An Introduction to the Sociology of Sports Mega-events.” The Sociological Review 54 (s2): 1–24.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • International Olympic Committee. 2014. Olympic Agenda 2020: 20+ 20 Recommendations.

  • Istanbul Site Management Directorate (ISMD). 2011. “Istanbul Historic Peninsula Site Management Plan.” BİMTAŞ A. Ş.

  • Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency. 2011. “Kentsel Projeler: Restorasyon.” Istanbul.

  • Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency. 2012. “2010 Program: 365 Days 549 Projects.” Istanbul.

  • Karaca, Banu. 2013. “Europeanization from the Margins? Istanbul’s Cultural Capital Initiative and the Formation of European Cultural Policies.” In The Cultural Politics of Europe: European Capitals of Culture and European Union since 1980s, edited by Kiran Klaus Patel, 157–176. London; New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Liverpool City Council. 2009. “Liverpool Buildings at Risk Register - July 2009.”

  • Liverpool City Council. 2010. “Recall the Past to Inform the Future: A Heritage Investment Framework for the City of Liverpool.”

  • Liverpool City Council. 2017. “Conservation Areas.” Accessed February 16 2017.

  • Lowenthal, David. 1985. The Past Is a Foreign Country. Cambridge University Press.

  • Marquart, Vivienne. 2014. “Insurmountable Tension? On the Relation of World Heritage and Rapid Urban Transformation in Istanbul.” European Journal of Turkish Studies. Social Sciences on Contemporary Turkey 2014 (19): 1–25.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mason, Randall, and Erica Avrami. 2002. “Heritage Values and Challenges of Conservation Planning.” In Management Planning for Archaeological Sites, edited by Jeanne Marie Teutonico and Gaetano Palumbo, 13–26. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  • McGillivray, David, and Gayle McPherson. 2012. “Mega Events: Neoliberalized Vehicle or Opportunity for Strategic Global Leadership.” Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics 9 (5): 80–91.

    Google Scholar 

  • Metaphor. 2009. “Sur-I Sultani Strategic Vision.” London. Accessed April 10 2015.

  • Ministry of Culture (MiBACT). 2017. “Ministero.”

  • Mooney, Gerry. 2004. “Cultural Policy as Urban Transformation? Critical Reflections on Glasgow, European City of Culture 1990.” Local Economy 19 (4): 327–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Németh, Ágnes. 2015. “European Capitals of Culture-Digging Deeper into the Governance of the Mega-Event.” Territory, Politics, Governance 4 (1): 52–74.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Northwest Regional Development Agency. 2000. “Regional Economic Strategy.”

  • Öner, Oğuz. 2010. “Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture: Towards a Participatory Culture?” In Orienting Istanbul: Cultural Capital of Europe, edited by Deniz Göktürk, Levent Soysal and Ipek Tureli, 267–278. London: Routeledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Palmer/RAE Associates. 2004. “European Cities and Capitals of Culture. Part I.” Brussels: European Commission.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pittarello, Liliana. 2001. “Molti Lavori per Un Complessivo Intervento Di Restauro Urbano.” Arkos, Speciale G8 2 (1): 11–17.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ponzini, Davide, and Zachary Jones. 2015. “Meanings, Urban Products and Forms of ‘European Cities’ in the European Capital of Culture Program.” Urbanistica 155: 70–78.

    Google Scholar 

  • Republic of Turkey. 2007. “Law 5706: Law on the Istanbul 2010 Capital of Culture.” Accessed May 30 2017.

  • Robertson, Douglas. 1996. “Housing, Planning and the Economy.” Planning Department Spring Seminar Series, Glasgow City Council, March.

  • Roche, Maurice. 1994. “Mega-events and Urban Policy.” Annals of Tourism Research 21 (1): 1–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Roche, Maurice. 2002. Megaevents and Modernity: Olympics and Expos in the Growth of Global Culture. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Short, John R. 2008. “Globalization, Cities and the Summer Olympics.” City 12 (3): 321–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Storti, Maristella. 2005. “Genova Capitale Europea Della Cultura 2004.” Ri-Vista 3 (1): 86–89.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sykes, Olivier, Jonathan Brown, Matthew Cocks, David Shaw, and Chris Couch. 2013. “A City Profile of Liverpool.” Cities 35: 299–318.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sykes, Olivier, and Carol Ludwig. 2015. “Defining and Managing the Historic Urban Landscape: Reflections on the English Experience and Some Stories From Liverpool.” European Spatial Research and Policy 22 (2): 9–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • The Liverpool Culture Company Limited. 2002. “Liverpool 2008: European Capital of Culture Bid.”

  • UNESCO. 2006. “Joint ICOMOS/UNESCO (WHC) Expert Mission Report: Historic Areas of Istanbul (Turkey) (C 356).” Vilnius.

  • UNESCO. 2008. “Mission Report: Historic Areas of Istanbul (Turkey) (356).” Quebec.

  • UNESCO. 2012. “Decisions Adopted By The World Heritage Committee at Its 36th Session.” St. Petersburg.

  • UNESCO. 2017. “Tangible Cultural Heritage.” Accessed May 30 2017.

  • Yetiskul, Emine, Serap Kayasü, and Suna Yaşar Ozdemir. 2016. “Local Responses to Urban Redevelopment Projects: The Case of Beyoğlu, Istanbul.” Habitat International 51: 159–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yildirim, Ayşe Ege. 2015. “The Changing Role of Urban Heritage: Governance and Stakeholders’ Perceptions in Turkey and The United Arab Emirates.” Middle East Technical University Journal of the Faculty of Architecture 1: 121.

    Google Scholar 

  • Young, Kevin, and Kevin Wamsley, eds. 2005. Global Olympics: Historical and Sociological Studies of the Modern Games. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zimbalist, Andrew. 2015. Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup. Washington: Brookings Institution Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zachary Jones.

Rights and permissions

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jones, Z. Synergies and Frictions between Mega-events and Local Urban Heritage. Built Heritage 1, 22–36 (2017).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: