Cultural traditions in Romania date back to the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. These were later blended with Roman and Byzantine cultures. The noble families of Romania were great builders and patrons of the arts. There are ornate medieval castles, monasteries and massive fortified churches.

There are four groups of historic churches: the painted monasteries of Bucovina, the wooden churches of Maramures, the Brincoveanuera Monasteries of Olteni and finally the fortified churches of Saxon villages.

Examples of both Romania's traditional village architecture and crafts are the carved doorways of Transylvanian houses, the attractive wooden churches, the variety of regional costumes and beautiful artifacts. Romanian icon paintings, woodcarving, pottery, embroidery, carpet weaving and textile decorations are folk traditions which have remained unchanged through the country's history.

There are first class theatres, opera houses and philharmonic orchestras in all the major cities in Romania. There are over 1500 museums of history, art and culture throughout Romania. Paintings from the first half of the 20th century mark the beginning of international recognition of Romanian art. The famous sculptor Constantin Brancusi's works are well represented and enjoyed in international collections.

Did you know?

With its world-class opera houses, concert halls, art galleries and museums, Bucharest used to be called the "Little Paris of the East".

World literature has been enriched by the presence of the great Romanian poet Mihail Eminescu. From the Romance Era of literature, he captured the spirituality of Romanians in his poems about nature, love, history and politics. Other notable writers of Romanian origin are Mircea Eliade, who has made tremendous contributions to the history of religion, Eugene Ionesco, whose plays are brilliant examples of the absurd, and Emil Cioran, a writer-philosopher, who depicted the essence of the Romanian soul in words.

Classical music is popular and Romanians are proud of the many universities and important centres for classical music. George Enescu, a famous composer has an international musical festival named after him. In the country one hears muzica populara or folk music. For dancing, the same music is played at a faster tempo. In the traditional Romanian dancing style, people link arms and show off fancy footwork.