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San Sebastián named 2016 European Capital of Culture

News comes in same week in which Mallorca mountain range attains Unesco heritage status

San Sebastián has been chosen as the European Capital of Culture 2016, Manfred Gaulhofer, president of the EU's selection committee for the title, announced at a ceremony at Madrid's Culture Ministry on Tuesday. The honor will be shared with the Polish city of Wroclaw, which was chosen last week.

The Basque city won out over Córdoba, which was considered the favorite among total of six Spanish candidates. Burgos, Segovia, Las Palmas and Zaragoza were the other losers.

The decision comes at an uncertain political moment for San Sebastián following the passing of the local government into the hands of the abertzale left coalition Bildu. Both the old Socialist mayor, Odón Elorza, and new mayor Juan Carlos Izagirre participated in the final presentation ceremony for the project.

"The really important thing is the combined work, the excitement of achieving an aim in a participative way," said Izagirre after hearing of the announcement. "I want to acknowledge the work of everyone in the technical team who spent years on this project."

Speaking at the Madrid ceremony, Culture Minister Ángeles González-Sinde underlined that

"each of the candidate cities has laid out a project and every one of those projects involved a valuable opportunity to redesign its cultural landscape."

Earlier in the week, Unesco announced that the landscape of Mallorca's Serra de Tramuntana mountain range has been added to its list of World Heritage Sites. Former Mallorca councilor María Luisa Dubón confirmed the news and explained that the World Heritage Committee's decision had been "unanimous" and that "there had been no objections on the part of any country."

"Millennia of agriculture in an environment with scarce resources has transformed the terrain and displays an articulated network of devices for the management of water revolving around farming units of feudal origins," Unesco said of the mountains' cultural landscape.

Dubón explained that the news "could serve to improve [the area's] conservation and the local economy of the towns that make up the serra."

The World Heritage Committee opened its annual session in Paris last Monday and has until today to deliver its verdict on 37 candidate sites. Among other places it has already chosen this time round are the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria and the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia.