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The seven euro banknotes: European culture at a glance

Symbols for the cultural commonality of the peoples of Europe

The euro banknotes represent architectural styles from seven epochs of European cultural history: Classical, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo, iron and glass architecture and modern architecture of the 20th century. Three essential architectural elements are particularly emphasized: windows, gates and bridges.

Although these stylistic elements do not correspond to buildings in reality, they are probably the most frequently depicted objects in Europe: fourteen billion bridges, eight billion gates and six billion windows.

The windows and gates on the front of the euro banknotes symbolize the spirit of openness and cooperation in Europe. In addition, the twelve stars of the European Union are shown. The number of stars has nothing to do with the number of EU countries. The symbol of the twelve stars comes from Greek mythology and symbolizes perfection.

On the back of the banknotes, design elements are complemented by the illustration of a bridge typical of the respective epoch of European cultural history - from the early constructions from antiquity to modern suspension bridges of the present. The bridge is supposed to connect people and people, to connect countries, peoples and cultures, to reconcile opposites and to allow them to grow together. The bridge symbol as an enhancement of the symbol of the handshake.

The main characteristics of the banknotes are:

  • The name of the currency - Euro - in Latin (EURO) and Greek (EYPΩ) notation
  • the European Union flag on the face of the banknotes;
  • the abbreviation of the issuing authority (European Central Bank) in the five variants - BCE, ECB, EZB, EKT, EKP - corresponding to the eleven official languages ​​of the European Community;
  • the signature of the President of the European Central Bank below the abbreviations of the European Central Bank.

The money designers did not want to give rise to national jealousy. Therefore, when designing the euro banknotes, prominent figures or famous national buildings and works of art were deliberately avoided. The motifs - windows, gates and bridges - have no relation to very specific monuments, but represent stylistic elements that can be found all over Europe.

  • The five is the smallest bill (12 x 6.2 cm) and at the same time the most inconspicuous: the dominant color is gray. The glow is reminiscent of Greek and Roman antiquity. The portrayed gate is a stylistic element from this time and at the same time a reference to the historical roots of Europe.
  • The new tens (12.7 x 6.7 cm) has a strong red as a distinctive feature. The Romanesque style, the epoch of the early Middle Ages, can be seen on the round archway. The Romanesque is an epoch of Western art that began around 1000. Numerous church buildings date from this time and can be found all over Europe. Well-known Romanesque buildings in Germany are the cathedral buildings in Speyer, Worms and Mainz.
  • On the blue twenties (13.3 x 7.2 cm) a Gothic-style window can be seen on the front, easily recognizable by the pointed arch of the window on the front or the buttress of the bridge piers on the back. The Gothic spans the period from the 12th century to the beginning of the 16th century. Famous Gothic buildings include the interior of Westminster Abbey in London, the facade of Milan Cathedral and the south facade of Cologne Cathedral.
  • The fifties (14 x 7.7 cm), color orange, shows elements from the Renaissance, the time of epochal change from the Middle Ages to the modern age. It was the time of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Albrecht Dürer. The renaissance began in Italy and spread to all European countries after 1500.
  • The one hundred euro note (14.7 x 8.2 cm) is unmistakably green. The gate shown stands for the Baroque style, which has replaced the Renaissance in Europe. Curved basic and elevation forms, broken gables and rich ornaments express the overall design. Famous builders of this time were Balthasar Neumann (Residenz Würzburg), A. Schlueter (Berlin Palace) and G. Bähr (Frauenkirche Dresden).
  • Yellowish-brown tones dominate the two hundred (15.3 x 8.2 cm). It shows elements of iron and glass architecture. The industrial revolution of the 19th century made it possible to build bridges, market halls and exhibition halls out of iron and steel. The most famous building is the Eiffel Tower, erected in Paris for the 1889 World's Fair. On the back of the banknote you can see a railway bridge as it was built in this form all over Europe at the beginning of the 20th century.
  • With a format of 16 x 8.2 centimeters, the five hundred is the largest bill, there won't be a thousand. Its distinguishing feature is the color purple. It shows symbols of modern architecture at the end of the 20th century. It is no longer spent.


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