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The European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which it organises a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension. Preparing a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for the city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city's image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale.
Guimarães, along with Maribor, Slovenia, was the European Capital of Culture in 2012.
The inner part depicts a stylised image of Afonso Il, the first King of Portugal, together with his sword and the Castle of Guimarães, which is regarded as the birthplace of Portugal as an independent nation in the 12th century. To the left of the image is the Portuguese shield above the word 'PORTUGAL'. To the lower right is the inscription 'GUIMARÃES 2012' with the logo of Guimarães 2012 European Capital of Culture. Along the lower edge of the inner part are the mintmark INCM and the name of the designer. The outer ring bears the 12 stars of the European flag.
A geographical map of Western Europe spans the outer ring and inner core on the right side of the coin. The inscription 2 EURO is superimposed over the map of Europe, with the numeral “2” located in an open field representing the eastern Atlantic Ocean.
The edge design features the seven castles and five coats of arms also found on the national side, all equally spaced.