Explore Romania’s fascinating cultural complexity, arguably the most diverse in Europe. Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania are separated from each other by the beautiful, densely-forested Carpathian Mountains. These regions harbour an extraordinary and largely unchanged medieval, Renaissance and Baroque visual culture. In Romania, the Latin and Germanic West meets the Byzantine, Slav and Gypsy East. Regions feature medieval Saxon villages and fortified churches, Hungarian manors, castles and towns, and German trading cities with grand Gothic cathedrals. In contrast, Moldavia has walled monasteries whose chapel walls are covered, inside and out, with brilliantly coloured Byzantine frescoes.
In Romania, city and country stand in stark contrast. Sophisticated Bucharest and Sibiu have fine museums with rich collections of works by Van Eyck, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Rembrandt, Manet and Monet. These museums also display colourful Eastern icons, tapestries and intricately carved wooden doors. Saxon trading cities like Brașov, meanwhile, preserve arguably the greatest collections of old Turkish carpets outside Istanbul.
In contrast, Romanian peasant culture has survived unchanged in the isolated villages of Maramureș and Bucovina. Their distinctive wooden churches rival those of Russia and Norway. Romanian folk culture has generated what Yehudi Menuhin considered Europe’s richest musical tradition. The folklorist Moses Gaster claimed for Romania the world’s most distinctive corpus of folk tales. Nineteenth-century Romanian nationalists celebrated this living past which in turn provoked a reaction by the country’s world-famous modernist artists and writers. These include Constantin Brancusi, Tristen Tsara, Marcel Iancu, Dada poets and the absurdist playwright, Eugène Ionescu. Today, Romania’s post-Soviet national identity augments the country’s past rich diversity with an energetic, often edgy, modernity.
Explore Romania’s great scenic beauty & diverse culture in rich art collections, walled cities, medieval castles, Saxon fortified churches, frescoed Moldavian monasteries & secluded old villages. Read more