TRAVEL QUIZ • May 2023
Hot on the heels of the world’s biggest song and dance extravaganza, we’re looking forward to jetting off to next year’s contest. We know you’re an expert in all things European travel, but can you identify these former Eurovision host cities by the person their airports are named after?
Now you’ve had a go, read up on the correct answers below
Spain’s saucy capital hosted in 1969, a year after cutesy crooner Massiel propelled her country to victory with a song called ‘La, la, la’ – that onomatopoeic language of music. Madrid’s airport is named after Adolfo Suárez, Director-General of Spain’s national broadcaster around the time of the 1969 contest. He would go on to safely steward Spain into democracy as its first elected PM.
The capital of romance last hosted Eurovision in 1978, after Marie Myriam’s winning hit, ‘L’oiseau et l’enfant’ (‘The Bird and the Child’). Paris’ airport is the largest in France, named after Charles de Gaulle, who led the Free French forces in resisting German invasion during World War II. Fundamental in restoring democracy, De Gaulle would establish the French Fifth Republic, the current republican system of government, becoming president from 1959 to 1969.
Here’s another airport named after a first democratic leader: this time, it’s Croatia’s post-Soviet president, Franjo Tuđman. The contest landed in the Croatian capital Zagreb in 1990, just a couple of weeks after Tuđman had won a groundbreaking election. Because it was so recent, the host country was still technically Yugoslavia.
Next to the stage was Rome in 1991. Originally intended to be held in San Remo (known for its annual festival of Italian music), the contest was moved to Rome due to ongoing instability in the Balkan region. Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport is Italy’s busiest, based 14 miles from Rome’s city centre. It’s hard to imagine that Renaissance polymath Leonardo wouldn’t be a fan of Eurovision.
Istanbul’s secondary airport is named after Sabiha Gökçen, the first female fighter pilot in the world, and one of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s 13 adopted children. The contest came to Istanbul in 2004, after Constantinopolitan (or is it Istanbul-ian?) singer Sertab Erener serenaded her way to winning with ‘Everyway That I Can’.
The contest hopped across the Aegean to Athens in 2006, after Elena Paparizou fulfilled her promises with ‘My Number One’. Athens’ airport is named after Eleftherios Venizelos, a 20th-century statesman who shaped the borders of modern Greece. When you’re returning from your Greek holiday, stop into the mini-museum inside the airport’s departure hall to learn more.
Estonia’s only international airport is named after Lennart Mari, the potato peeler, linguist, travel writer, historian and, eventually, second democratic PM of Estonia (after the fall of the USSR). He held office until October 2001, the same year Estonia won Eurovision with an Aruban-Estonian party track. Tallinn 2002 was a very fun night.
After half a century of competing, Portugal finally got its Eurovision gong in 2017, bringing the contest to Lisbon in 2018. Its airport is named after Humberto Delgado. The Portuguese general helped found the national airline and supported development of Lisbon’s airport, paving the way for passenger aviation in the Atlantic-facing country.
The next year, Eurovision’s spangled starlets touched down in Ben Gurion. Perhaps the highlight of the contest was the song swap, which saw fan favourites such as Verka Serduchka try their hand at iconic Euro tracks from different countries. Tel Aviv’s airport is named after David Ben Gurion, the man who proclaimed Israel’s independence in 1948.
Serbia’s most famous son, Nikola Tesla, was a brilliant mechanical engineer who contrived imaginative plans for aircraft, so it’s no surprise that Belgrade’s airport was named after him. We’re not sure if he would have been a Eurovision fan, but he would have been proud to see his homeland host in 2008, after winning the previous year with a song about peace.
It was Azerbaijan’s turn to host the contest in 2012, when jazzy stage design and Jedward were the name of the Baku game. Special edition stamps were printed for the contest, and politician Heydar Aliyev was the name you’d see on many of them: as well as the airport, a major concert venue designed by Zaha Hadid is named after him.
Turin is the city we spent the weekend dancing, drinking and doo-wopping in last year, thanks to glam metal-loving Måneskin. The Alpine airport bears the name of Sandro Pertini, an Italian journalist and radical politician who stood up to Mussolini. If that’s not rock ’n’ roll, we don’t know what is.
This year Liverpool hosted the 67th Eurovision contest on behalf of winner Ukraine, due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Selected for being the city of pop, it comes as no surprise that Liverpool’s airport is named after one of the most influential singer-songwriters and peace activists of all time: John Lennon. John, alongside Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, revolutionised popular music in the 1960s with the Beatles.