New five-euro banknotes with image of Greek goddess Europa go into circulation

A new five-euro banknote bearing the image of Greek goddess Europa goes into circulation across the eurozone from Thursday.

The ancient Greek goddess Europa features on the new tender, which was unveiled by the European Central Bank in January.

“Over the years, euro banknotes have become the most visible symbol of European integration,” said ECB president Mario Draghi at the time.

“The single currency, the euro, was conceived as a key step towards that goal. Despite the challenges facing the euro area, progress was made in 2012 and I am confident that 2013 will bring a deepening of Economic and Monetary Union and will strengthen European integration.”

The new notes being introduced are more difficult to copy, the ECB says. The new notes have raised lines on both left and right edges and an emerald-colored number 5, which changes colour to deep blue when the note is tilted. Also, Europa’s face appears as a watermark and hologram on the note.

In Greek mythology, Europa was a noble Phoenician woman whose beauty inspired the god Zeus to seduce her. He appeared to her as a white bull and carried her away to Crete. Later she bore Zeus three sons, one of whom, Minos, became ruler of Crete.

The image used on the five-euro note comes from a vase in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The vase is more than 2,000 years old and was found in southern Italy.

Other notes will also be reissued in what is only the second series of euro banknotes since the single currency’s launch on 1 January 1999. This series will be known as “Europa”.

The new series will be phased in over several years and original five-euro notes will continue to be issued for several months alongside the new ones. The two series will circulate in parallel as legal tender.

A total of 332 million people in 17 countries use euro banknotes. There are 15.7 billion of them in circulation.